February 5, 2013

Q & A on Wyoming Defensive Recruits

The GoWyoGo.com's Tom Lacock and Ian McMackin answer questions on the Wyoming 2013 offensive signees and give their opinion on the expectations of the future Pokes.

Read what they have to say about the incoming Cowboys with signing day Wednesday.

Who is the biggest get in your opinion for the Pokes on defense in the recruiting Class of 2013?

TL: I can tell you the folks I spoke with in Laramie thought Jeff Lark was hugely underrated. I am hearing he is a guy who can blitz, but is also very good in pass defense. Lark is an outside linebacker from Arizona Western Community College who should come in right away and make an impact.

I'll also add another name because I think there are almost two different classes in the Class of 2013 (more on that in question number six).

I also think Grand Junction defensive tackle James Diamanti will have a tremendous impact on this team and it might be sooner than later.

Someone who has seen him play in high school said he may be ready for the college game right away. I think his impact was also felt in the recruiting game as the big man all too happy to recruit fellow Colorado defensive tackle Dalton Fields and other Colorado recruits to Wyoming with him.

IM: I like the addition of defensive tackle Troy Boyland since he brings the Pokes interior much needed size and appears to have the ability to stuff the run that is much needed in the program.

He'll add depth to help bring in young DT's like Uso Olive and compliment returning veteran Patrick Mertens.

What was the biggest need defensively for the team this year and how was it addressed in recruiting?

TL: It is no secret, the Wyoming defense was a little rough last year and really for the last two years.

Last year Wyoming allowed an average of 470 yards per game and 232 of that on the ground. In seven of the Pokes' 12 games they allowed 35 or more points. Simply put this team needs help defensively and they need it in the form of players who could help right away.

Enter the recruiting class of 2013 and five junior college players on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Troy Boyland should help to shore up the defensive line and make moving the ball off the line of scrimmage a little more difficult.

What better way to replace a Muhammad (Ghali) than with another Muhammad (his brother, Malkaam).

Jesse Sampson and Jeff Lark should see time at safety and linebacker right away. Jordan Stanton appears to be a wildcard at 6-foot-2 and 250.

The coaches in Laramie like him and have said he has a great nose for the football. Brad Hoiseth at JC Gridiron.com seems to think he has the tools, but will make a big jump to FBS football from lower level junior college football in California.

IM: I'll take another slant than Tom. I see this program needing to add some size to the defensive line and become more physical on defense.

The additions of Stanton, Boyland, and Lark should add immediate competition and some improved physical play to the defense. Muhammad seems to be a good addition since he came via Ghaali Muhammad.

Who is the guy who might fly a little under the radar but may come out of this class as the one who really turns heads?

TL: Xavier Lewis is a guy that isn't getting a lot of love nationally, but regionally is a known entity and one Wyoming is happy to have gotten.

Lewis is known as a very hard-hitting safety, but also one with a good head on his shoulders. He is ranked fifth academically in his class of 522, won the Denver Post Golden Helmet award as the top senior player, scholar and citizen in the State.

He is a guy Wyoming fans will love to watch and reporters will love to interview. He is going to be a fan favorite for the next four years.

I'll cheat here and say I am also interested in seeing Ryan Anaya of Natrona County suit up for Wyoming. He committed so early in the process that I don't think he had a lot of time to be evaluated or contacted by other schools to the point where he became a three-star guy.

Living in Wyoming, he has something of a reputation for being a man-among-boys and the numbers (6-foot-3 and 248 pounds, but still runs a near 4.6 time in the 40-yard dash). Those are big numbers and I am excited to see if how translate to the college game.

Not many are talking about Timmy Hayes, but keep an eye on him. He isn't big (5-foot-9 and 187 pounds), but he runs a lot 4.5 and is known as a physical corner who can be left out on an island in man-to-man coverage.

IM: I think Colorado product and defensive tackle James Diamanti is going to be a solid player for the Cowboys and likely early in his career. Diamanti looks to have the makeup and attitude many good Coloradoans bring to the program through the years. He already has the size and appears to possess passion needed.

I see this class have a number of players that step to become good products. Natrona's Ryan Anaya, Colorado's Xavier Lewis and offensive linemen Connor Riese could be the next Adam Goldberg with his physical makeup.

Is there a guy in this class who has the most instant impact?

TL: With so many junior college guys and so much of a need on the defensive end of the field, it is tough to imagine Lark, Muhammad and Boyland especially don't see the field right away. You could lump Sampson and maybe even Stanton into that group. Those guys weren't brought in as juniors to sit on the bench this year.

IM: All the Juco players that enrolled early are hopeful to make immediate impacts. The one high school guy is DT James Diamanti and RB Omar Stover since both are already enrolled in school and will participate in spring drills.

It I had to pick one player it would be linebacker Jeff Lark by the word on the street and who recruited him.

Were you surprised by any one aspect of the recruiting class?

TL: I think the pure amount of Junior College players was a bit of a surprise, but it wasn't unwarranted. I know the Cowboys' offense looked good much of the time last season, but the defense didn't hold up its end of the bargain and, as a result, the Pokes were home for Christmas.

IM: Interesting the Cowboys went with as many junior college players and the theme I wouldn't have expected three months ago. Now we know the focus on improving the defensive side the ball with numbers and competition, it could be a move that pays dividends come fall.

How do you characterize this class on defense?

TL: I really saw this as a recruiting class made up of two different classes. The first was the high school class that featured some strength in the defensive line and the defensive secondary.

The other was the junior college harvest of talent and physical maturity that was required by a defense that last year was just plain lousy.

After changing defensive coordinators last year, the Pokes have decided to add some new tools and kudos for their being willing to take a chance on a large junior college class.

When I look at this class it seems to me like the Cowboys really went back to a philosophy of building a team through the offensive and defensive lines.

They also made some progress on improving the athletic ability in the defensive backfield.

Frankly, this isn't a recruiting class many are taking notice of around the conference, but there is some talent in this group and hopefully their impact can be felt sooner rather than later.

IM: The number of players on campus ready to contribute in spring ball is a positive in my mind. When you have six Juco's, two high school players, and a greyshirt, it helps get more players used to the system and more opportunity for this class to make an immediate impact.

It will help the competition and depth in the program, especially on the defensive side the ball. I like the idea the Pokes added some size to the defense and have two of those bigger interior linemen ready to participate right away.

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