Wyoming Utah St Football

Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl talks to cornerback Azizi Hearn during the first half of an NCAA football game Saturday in Logan, Utah. Associated Press

LARAMIE – Call it an early Christmas gift, college football fans.

Wednesday was the start of the Early Signing Period for high school football players across the nation. According to 247Sports, 65% of high school football players signed to programs during last year’s Early Signing Period. This year’s period runs through Dec. 20. National Signing Day is Feb. 5.

UW has signed 19 players thus far, and could get more in the coming days. The signees are from eight different states. Head coach Craig Bohl said that while states like Colorado and Nebraska are crucial to the success of the program, keeping homegrown talent in-state is at the top of the priority list.

This season, the team signed one Wyoming native in fullback Caleb Driskill from Thunder Basin High. Bohl has signed a Wyoming native in each of his seven recruiting classes.

“It’s important for us to work to recognize high school football in the state of Wyoming. It’s been a point of emphasis for us,” Bohl said. “And while we are not heavily populated, we think that the coaches and the players in the state actually over- produce.”

The focal points of the class were the offensive and defensive lines, Bohl said. Nine players who signed Wednesday were linemen. The Cowboys also signed a quarterback in California’s Gavin Beerup.

“We needed to fortify our offensive line. You can see the number of injuries we’ve had and the benefit that we’ve had by having those players out there,” Bohl said. “Sometimes, the stars align right, too, some of the guys that fall one way or the other. This is a case where some of the stars fell the right way.”

Bohl went so far as to say that this is the best recruiting class he’s had since becoming UW’s head coach.

“Did we get everybody we wanted? No. I think any coach that says that they did, they’re lying to you or they’re not recruiting the right guys,” Bohl said. “But I do think we got a lion’s share of the guys we wanted … we came out with a plan.”

WyoSports also reached out to Brandon Huffman, the national recruiting editor for 247Sports, who gave his thoughts on some of the newest Cowboys.

“I like what Wyoming has done in Colorado. One of the biggest head scratchers is how Colorado State has done such a poor job in their own state under Mike Bobo, while Craig Bohl has done so well,” Huffman told WyoSports. “And he’s gone back to the state big-time for a number of guys, including Wyett Ekeler, the brother of Austin Ekeler, who was overlooked before flourishing at a D-II school and is now with the Chargers. And then Keshaun Taylor out of Denver is the No. 11 player in the state.

“They’ve done a good job in California, getting Nofoafia Tulafono, a three-star lineman out of Oak Hills (California) who will play in the 2020 Polynesian Bowl, three-star quarterback Gavin Beerup from Ventura (California) St. Bonaventure and three-star offensive lineman Malik Williams from Hayward (California). Williams was a teammate of Nephi Moimoi, the late Wyoming signee in 2019 who tragically lost his life drowning.”

Here is the list of UW’s newest signees. Star rankings are from Rivals and 247Sports, respectively. Each is then followed by a quote from UW Director of Recruiting Ian McGrew.

Gavin Beerup, quarterback, 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, Camarillo, California – 2-star/3-star

Beerup, who looks the part, played at South- ern California’s St. Bonaventure and started one year under center for the Seraphs. Beerup threw for 1,610 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also scored six touchdowns on the ground.

“Gavin is competitive. He’s athletic, smart, tough. He’s got a good arm, accurate. This is the guy we (spotted) early to be our quarterback in this class. … We look forward to getting him in our quarterback room and seeing what he can do for us in the near future.”

Joseph Braasch, running back, 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, Columbus, Nebraska – 3-star/NA

Braasch scored 19 touchdowns in his high school career while averaging 7.2 yards per carry.

“He’s everything you want in a running back. He’s athletic, fast, elusive, tough. We look forward to getting him in here and seeing him in some big plays for us in the future.”

Caleb Driskill, fullback, 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Gillette – 2-star/NA

Driskill was the top-rated recruit in Wyoming. He played both sides of the ball at Thunder Basin, but will play fullback for the Cowboys.

“We knew Caleb was our guy. We feel that Caleb exemplifies what Wyoming football’s all about with his physicality and his toughness.”

Wyett Ekeler, defensive back, 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, Windsor, Colorado – 2-star/NA

Ekeler starred as a running back for Windsor High, rushing for 1,435 yards and 22 touchdowns his senior season. Ekeler averaged nearly 10 yards per carry and finished as Colorado’s 23rd-leading rusher. He is the brother of Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler. He will play defensive back for the Cowboys.

“Very athletic, he’s got good speed. But what we really liked about Wyett is that he was really ultra-competitive. He’s a guy we’ve been recruiting since his junior year of high school. (He) steadily got better and better, came to camp (and) tested very well.”

Kohl Herbolsheimer, offensive lineman, 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, Omaha, Nebraska – 2-star/3-star

Herbolsheimer was the sixth-ranked recruit in Nebraska and its top offensive lineman. He played in the state’s largest classification (Class A).

“This is a guy we knew about pretty early on in life during his junior year. He came to camp and really impressed (offensive line coach Bart) Miller with his explosiveness, strength, physicality. And we decided to offer him that day on the spot. And as you look at his senior year … you can really see some of those traits on tape.”

Gavin Meyer, defensive tackle, 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Franklin, Wisconsin – NR/3-star

Meyer led the entire state with 22 sacks his senior year. He was named first team all-state as a junior and senior.

“Explosive athlete, very physical, gives great effort … We feel he has a bright future for us.”

Nick Miles, tight end, 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Parker, Colorado – 2-star/NA

Miles is a load at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. He caught 17 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown his senior season at Chaparral High.

“He’s going to be a big presence, and he’s a shade over 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. Hopefully he can create some mismatches for us at that spot here in the future.”

Oluwaseyi Omotosho, defensive end, 6-2, 225 pounds, Houston – NA/NA

Omotosho had two sacks his senior season and averaged 5.5 tackles per game. He attended the same high school as Kansas City Chiefs defender Emmanuel Ogbah.

“Very explosive. Explosive get-off, can change direction. He’s physical runs very well. This is a guy who did not have a lot of junior film out there. But we saw him at camp, (and) he did extremely well. He’s very dynamic. And we kind of knew that he was a guy we wanted in our program.”

Emmanuel Pregnon, offensive lineman, 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, Denver — NA/NA

Pregnon, who played on both sides of the ball, had 12 pancake blocks as a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School and was teammates with Keshaun Taylor.

Caleb Robinson, defensive lineman, 6-foot-2, 265 pounds, Omaha, Nebraska – 2-star/NA

Robinson had 34 tackles his senior season and helped lead Omaha Burke High to the state title as a junior.

“He was at camp, where he really left a good impression on our defensive staff. We watched one game his senior year, and after that we knew we really wanted to get on this guy and make him part of our football team.”

Braden Siders, defensive end, 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Thornton, Colorado – 2-star/NA

Siders played for one of the powerhouses in the Denver area (Ralston Valley). He put up eye-popping numbers as a senior, racking up 14 sacks, 24 tackles for loss and 100 total tackles for a team that finished 12-1 and lost in the 5A semifinals.

“Explosive athlete. Very violent, plays the game the way the game’s supposed to played. Extreme passion.”

Cameron Smith, defensive end, 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Parker, Colorado – 2-star/NA

Smith notched 6.5 sacks as a senior. He also had two passes defended and recovered a fumble.

“He came to camp as a junior … that’s where he kind of caught our eye initially. We knew that this is the guy we needed to track. He came back to camps as a senior and really improved his athleticism on top of his physicality, his strength and the effort he played with.”

Cameron Stone, defensive back, 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Rosharon, Texas – NA/3-star

Stone intercepted four passes his junior year and scored three total touchdowns.

“This guy is everything you look for in a corner. He’s got good quickness, he’s explosive, fast, competitive, good ball skills. … We were actually watching another guy when we kept seeing Cameron kind of pop up in the film a little bit. Didn’t take us too long after that to realize this is a guy we want in our secondary.”

Mana Taimani, offensive lineman, 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Antioch, California – 2-star/3-star

Taimani’s offense averaged an astounding 288 yards rushing per game his senior season at Clayton Valley Charter. The team also won state this season.

“He’s everything you want to in an offensive lineman. Violent, explosive, physical, he’s athletic.”

Keshaun Taylor, defensive back, 6-foot, 190 pounds, Denver – 2-star/3-star

Taylor caught 30 passes as a senior for 249 yards. Taylor’s best season came as a junior, when he averaged nearly 20 yards per catch (589 yards) and caught four touchdowns. He also notched 55 tackles his senior season and recovered a pair of fumbles.

“What we initially liked about Keshaun was just his raw athleticism. He’s aggressive, he plays hard, he’s fast. And he’s somebody we’ve been recruiting since his junior year … We look forward to him carrying on the good tradition of safety play here at the University of Wyoming.”

Nofoafia Tulafono, offensive lineman, 6-foot-2, 311 pounds, Victorville, California – 2-star/3-star

Tulafono had offers from Arizona and BYU, among others. Tulafono was invited to play in the 2020 Polynesian Bowl.

“Very impressive, powerful, he was physical, and the athleticism for his size was very good. And you kind of see that translate, as well, into senior film. That’s a big part of our process.”

Brent VanderVeen, athlete, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Sedro-Woolley, Washington – 2-star/3-star

VanderVeen had offers from Navy, Air Force and Eastern Washington, among others. He had 59 total tackles as a senior and intercepted three passes. He also had 534 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

“Athletic, aggressive, great effort on both sides of the ball, and one of the things that attracted us to him, plays on both sides (and) rarely left the field.”

Isaac White, safety, 6-foot-one, 195 pounds, Pottstown, Pennsylvania – 2-star/NA

White played both sides of the ball his junior season at Denver’s Mullen High before playing in Pennsylvania his final high school season. He had 438 receiving yards as a junior.

“Tough, athletic, aggressive good ball skills. But what really attracted us most to Isaac, initially, was his intangibles. As a coach’s kid, he’s got a great work ethic. He’s smart, and we’re really looking for him to grow into a leader for this football program. We’re excited that Isaac has signed with us, and look for him to make a pretty big impact for us here in the future.”

Malik Williams, offensive lineman, 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, Hayward, California – 2-star/3-star

Standing 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, Williams has the frame to grow into a force. As a senior, Williams had five sacks, eight tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hurries. On the offensive line, Williams helped his team average 235 rushing yards per game. Williams also played baseball and basketball at Hayward High earlier in his career.

“Another guy that was on our radar pretty early. We initially really liked his size and athleticism combination. We were recruiting as both the offensive line and defensive line, and just kind of wanted to let the senior film tell us exactly what he was going to do for us in the future. Watching his senior film, we felt that offensive tackle would be his best fit.”

Michael Katz is a writer for WyoSports. He can be reached by email at mkatz@wyosports.net. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelLKatz.

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