LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Within the context of Wyoming’s passing game, the tight end position was a productive one for the Cowboys a season ago.
Austin Fort and Tyree Mayfield caught just 28 passes between them, but the duo accounted for more than 28 percent of the team’s receiving yards. In fact, Mayfield emerged as one of the Cowboys’ top receiving threats by season’s end, finishing with the second-most yards of all of Wyoming’s pass-catchers and tying for the team lead with two touchdown receptions.
The bad news for Wyoming is it now has to find a way to replace that production with both of them having exhausted their eligibility. The good news? The Cowboys have an experienced option that can help.
Josh Harshman is set to begin the spring atop the depth chart. The Natrona County High School graduate began last season as a backup and caught four passes for 21 yards before being sidelined with a season-ending knee injury.
“He had successful surgery and is working hard,” Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said in December.
Harshman didn’t use his redshirt before last season and will be a fifth-year senior next season, easily making him the veteran of a big-bodied group at the position. Rising sophomore Nate Weinman is the largest of the group at 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds while redshirt freshman Jackson Marcotte checks in at 6-7 and 250 pounds. Mason Keeler, a 6-6, 240-pounder, played in one game last season as a redshirt freshman but isn’t listed on Wyoming’s updated roster.
Their size lends itself to more in-line blocking to complement the 6-3, 230-pound Harshman, whom the Cowboys will try to utilize more in the passing game. Harshman has 26 receptions for 236 yards and a touchdown in his career, which has been spent primarily as a reserve.
Bringing in even more pure pass-catchers at the position was the objective for Bohl and his staff during the most recent recruiting cycle. Incoming freshmen Parker Christensen (6-2, 205 pounds) and Treyton Welch (6-3, 207) are more agile body types the Cowboys eventually want to use to stretch defenses in the passing game, though neither will join the team until the summer.
The group will also have a new instructor in tight ends coach Shannon Miller, one of three new additions to Bohl’s staff this offseason. Miller, who will also coach the Cowboys’ fullbacks, spent the last three seasons as an assistant at East Carolina.
Whether Miller’s two incoming freshmen can crack the rotation in the fall remains to be seen. Harshman will get his chance this spring to solidify himself as the No. 1 option as the Cowboys try to keep the production going at the position.
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com