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True freshman Tyler Hall enters cornerback rotation for Wyoming

October 8, 2016 GMT

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Tyler Hall knew they were coming for him.

When the true freshman cornerback took the field Oct.1 for the first time as a Wyoming Cowboy, he wasn’t surprised to see the Colorado State offense look in his direction.

Michael Gallup, the Rams’ leading receiver this season, lined up across from Hall, and Hall knew what the next play would be.

“I knew they were going to try me,” he said. “And when they moved Gallup to my side, I was for certain that they were going deep, and that’s what they did.”

The outcome of the play was an incompletion, which impressed Hall’s teammates and coaches.

“It was real close to a pick,” coach Craig Bohl said. “He’s got good body position, went up for the ball well, so it’s encouraging for us to have another defensive back that we feel like we can play.”

Hall was visibly disappointed that he didn’t get the interception.

“Seeing the ball, I just tried to make a play,” he said. “But unfortunately I didn’t capitalize on the opportunity.”

The Cowboys can live with it.

Wyoming didn’t have much depth at cornerback coming into the season, and the number of cornerbacks in the rotation shrank by a third when junior Robert Priester suffered a concussion.

Against Eastern Michigan, the Cowboys stuck with sophomore Antonio Hull and junior Rico Gafford.

In practice, Hall began to make his case.

“It certainly allowed us to take more of a look at Tyler,” Bohl said of Priester’s injury. “And sometimes, during the course of the season, guys will begin to play a little bit faster.”

Hall’s chances to prove himself in fall camp were limited, in part because of the older players ahead of him, but also because of a hamstring injury.

“It almost, to a certain degree, took him out of consideration, because we were so far along (in the season),” Bohl said. “And then when Robert had the concussion, that’s what gave Tyler an opportunity.”

Hall knew before the Colorado State game he was going to burn his redshirt.

“I was on the first-team depth chart for special teams, so I knew I was going to appear in that game,” he said. “But I didn’t know I was going to play that many reps at cornerback.”

His opportunity came when Gafford left the field with a quad contusion. Though Bohl said Priester wasn’t limited in the game, he did not appear on the participation report, and Hall was the next cornerback up.

In he went.

“It was crazy,” Hall said. “Because when I got in, everybody was all pumped up. I had to tell myself to calm down, keep my composure. Sidelines are rowdy. Their fans, they were talking a little bit, so I had to get in.”

After the disappointment of not getting an interception wore off, Hall was able to enjoy the fact that he had recorded a pass breakup in his first game.

“I just told that to myself: ‘I can hang with the best of them,’” he said. “’It’s just a regular game. Treat it like practice, because I know that I can be out there.’ That’s why they put me out there.”

Speaking of practice, going up against experienced senior receivers like Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt doesn’t hurt.

“My ability is there, so I’m able to compete with anybody,” Hall said. “And sticking with TG and Jake at practice, those are some top receivers, too. That always gave me confidence going into any game if I had to get in.”

Hall’s father made it to Wyoming’s game Saturday for the first time this season, just in time to see his son join the secondary.

“He just hugged me, said he loved me,” Hall said. “He always tells me to keep competing no matter what, even if I’m on scout team or whatever, so I just keep competing in whatever I’m doing, and it pays off eventually.”

Plus, Hall’s debut just happened to come in a win against rival Colorado State.

“It was a night to remember,” Hall said.

With him joining the depth chart for the first time this week, it just might be the first of many.