LARAMIE – Davon Wells-Ross thought he was doing everything right.
A redshirt freshman defensive end for the University of Wyoming football team last season, Wells-Ross said he wasn’t late for meetings or practices. Yet, he didn’t play in any games, and his only action was on the scout team during practice.
Early indications are that could change for Wells-Ross as spring drills started at UW this week and the 2019 season is about five months away.
“What clicked for me was being around all the older guys who told me it is time to take things more serious,” Wells-Ross said. “I thought I was doing everything right, but I had to sit down, look at myself in the mirror and realize I wasn’t doing everything right.
“I needed to do more and push myself more in the weight room, in the classroom, off the field, on the field – in every aspect of college football.”
Wells-Ross will have a lot of opportunities to show what he can do this spring.
UW must replace seniors Carl Granderson and Kevin Prosser. Its two most experienced defensive ends, senior Josiah Hall and junior Garrett Crall, are out this spring recovering from knee and foot surgeries, respectively.
Wells-Ross is competing with redshirt freshmen Solomon Byrd, Leevi Lafaele and DeVaughn Brown – among others – to see if they have what it takes to help UW this season.
If winter conditioning was any indication, Wells-Ross is well on his way to seeing playing time in 2019.
“The unanimous feeling in our building from everyone is that he has done a 180-degree turn as far as his mindset, work habits and preparation,” UW defensive ends and running game coordinator AJ Cooper said. “I’m excited to get him on the field to work and develop his skill set.”
Wells-Ross said the biggest changes he made had to do with his diet and weight room habits.
“I started taking meals more serious, and really started to buy into everything going on in terms of nutrition,” he said. “I also come in for extra work in the weight room. Doing what the strength coaches tell us to do is not enough.
“I also am trying to help the younger guys. I may only be one year older than them, but I see myself in so many of them, and I don’t want them to make my same mistakes.”
A safety and outside linebacker in high school in Omaha, Nebraska, UW took a chance on the 6-foot-5 Wells-Ross as a defensive end, thinking he would get bigger. He was listed at 200 pounds prior to the start of last season. Wells-Ross said he is “a solid” 215 as UW held its first practice of spring drills Tuesday. His goal is to be 220 pounds at the end of spring and 230 by the start of the season.
Wells-Ross added he would have been 220 now, but he got the flu during winter conditioning.
“We rolled the dice and thought he would get bigger, but it has taken a little while,” sixth-year UW coach Craig Bohl said. “That extra weight he has put on has given him more confidence.”
One of the things UW liked about Wells-Ross was his ability to run. Although a knee injury and switching high schools curbed his track career, Wells-Ross said he had a handheld time of 10.8 seconds in the 100-meter dash as a freshman.
As spring drills continue, Wells-Ross wants to keep his confidence high, but also maintain another aspect of his new approach.
“The biggest thing for me is to stay consistent,” he said. “People wait for you to mess up, and I don’t want to give them any reason to believe that will happen.
“Every rep I get this spring is a chance for me to make a play. I’m not going into this spring with the mindset that it is just practice. My mindset is to get better, get this whole team better and prove to my teammates and coaches that I can be trusted on the field.”
Cornerback C.J. Coldon started UW’s first three games last season as a true freshman, but was lost for the season after suffering a stinger at Missouri. Since Coldon played in only three games, he redshirted last season and is a redshirt freshman in 2019.
Coldon will be limited in practice early this spring as he continues to regain strength back in his arm from the stinger.
“He is still a hair away from complete strength,” Bohl said. “We’re being cautious. After two weeks, we should have a better idea after a couple of more tests.”
The Cowboys’ second spring practice is this afternoon, and they conclude their first week of spring drills with a Saturday practice.