March 21, 2012

Newcomers Look To Impact Spring

Three of the Cowboys who signed in December and are listed with the 2012 signing class will have a chance to make an early impact on the program this fall.

Junior offensive linemen Connor Rains, freshmen wide receiver Eric Nzeocha, and freshmen punter Tim Gleeson will participate in spring drills starting on Wednesday and with their early enrollment will be counted on to add competition.

"I'm excited that we were able to get Gleeson and Nzeocha in here early out of high school to go through spring drills with us," said UW head coach Dave Christensen. "That certainly will give them an advantage by getting them 15 extra practices."

Rains, a 6-foot-7 and 305 from American River Community College will be in the hunt for a starting spot at offensive tackle against veterans Josh Leonard and Kyle Magnuson, and sophomore Daniel Fleischman, while Gleeson is expected to be the leading candidate for punting duties.

Nzeocha is the younger brother of Poke linebacker Mark Nzeocha and showed good athleticism in preseason workouts.

"Eric has looked good with his athleticism during the workout sessions," said Christensen. "Now we'll get a chance to see how he performs in the spring with his pads on the field."

Christensen will play freshmen, especially at the skill positions proven as recent as last fall with true-freshmen receivers Josh Doctson, Dominic Rufran, and Trey Norman last season.

Doctson has left the program for TCU, while the Cowboys lost Mazi Ogbonna to graduation and expect a full out competion through the spring and into the fall at wide receiver.

Rains will add good size and athleticism on the offensive line and it benefits new linemen to get early reps with expectations high for the junior college transfer to make a statement this spring.

Gleeson is believed to be a pin point punter with accuracy and the skill to drop balls inside the twenty. His early arrival to Laramie was crucial considering last year's top man Austin McCoy ran out of eligibility.

Christensen's staff will welcome three more JUCO transfers this summer to could also contribute. Defensive linemen Justin Bernthaler, Offensive linemen Walker Madden, and defensive back BJ Hendrix will not participate in spring drills and should be ready to go for the post spring workouts.

"We've added size and experience to our offensive line, with a couple junior college players," said Christensen. "Likewise with adding Justin Bernthaler to the defensive line."

Nzeocha is one of the freshmen with the best shot to hit the field in 2012 since he will have the advantage of 15 extra practices and a few others to watch are wide receiver Trent Sewell and Nico Brown, and running backs Shaun Wick and DJ May.

With the only three scholarship running backs available this spring, Wick and May are prime candidates for early playing time as incoming frosh.

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