LARAMIE – The energy University of Wyoming redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Chambers brings to a routine practice or workout is palpable. To a man, the Cowboys notice a different attitude when No. 2 (formerly No. 12) is around.
In last October’s season opener at Nevada, Chambers broke his leg on the third play from scrimmage. It was a devastating moment for UW, one the team never fully recovered from. Redshirt freshman Levi Williams did his best to rally the troops over the course of the season, but due in part to his own injuries, was never able to get the offense on track.
Redshirt senior defensive end Garrett Crall was in Laramie when the fateful injury happened. Crall was recovering from foot surgery and, due to COVID-19, did not travel with the team. Watching the overtime loss at home was brutal. Watching his fellow team captain go down on the first drive was heartbreaking.
“I immediately texted him, just said, ‘I love you, bro, I’m here for you, bro.’ Obviously he didn’t have his phone, but I was down in tears back here,” Crall said.
It’s been about six months since that devastating afternoon in Reno, Nevada, and Chambers is back in pads, practicing with his teammates. The energy he brings every day in practice is already starting to manifest itself and lift teammates higher.
“Sean has a different swagger,” redshirt junior running back Xazavian Valladay said. “I appreciate him having that mindset, because all of us are watching Sean. He knows that. He knows that he has to come out there with an attitude to display to all of us. Sean’s doing a hell of a job with that.”
Chambers is the consummate teammate, always encouraging others and easy to rally around, senior guard Logan Harris said. His win-loss record as UW’s primary quarterback, 8-3, tells part of that story.
The Cowboys were 2-6 when Chambers took over as UW’s starting quarterback as a true freshman in 2018. He replaced Tyler Vander Waal in a loss to Utah State and proceeded to win his first two starts. He then missed most of the final two games of the season after suffering a broken leg against Air Force. But he nonetheless served as a spark plug for a team that rallied to finish 6-6. In 2019, the Cowboys were 6-2 in games the California native started.
Yes, Chambers has only completed 46.3% of his passes in his career. But he is much more than passing stats to UW’s locker room.
“He’s able to pick guys up,” Harris said. “Guys listen to him, guys follow him, because he just has that energy that he puts out.”
Given all of the setbacks Chambers has gone through, seeing his enthusiasm each day, even on days he wasn’t healthy and was merely a spectator on the sideline, was inspiring. To have him back on the field leading the troops? That’s a sight for sore eyes.
“He always has a smile on his face,” graduate transfer running back Trey Smith said. “Every time I see him, I just want to work hard for him.”
Bohl discusses new transfer rule
The NCAA has adopted a somewhat controversial, one-time transfer legislation that will allow college athletes to transfer to another institution once without having to sit out a season.
It’s been a hotly contested issue among college coaches, given players will be free to leave without penalty if a prestigious program comes calling, and UW coach Craig Bohl offered his thoughts on the situation Thursday.
“Very few coaches are (fond of it), but we’ll adjust,” Bohl said. “The NCAA has received a significant amount of criticism with the waiver process. And I think the Presidential Council looked at and said, ‘OK, what’s in the best interest of the student athlete?’ … We had a long staff meeting today to address what our longterm strategy is going to be. The NCAA has made that decision, we’ll roll with it. I don’t think it’s necessarily a great decision. But those are the rules, and we will adapt here at Wyoming.
“Our whole deal is, we’re going to be open and honest and transparent on what kind of guy we want at the University of Wyoming. (We) have a program that can develop them, they can get a meaningful degree and have a chance to really play on some great teams, and then, hopefully, some of them play in the NFL. We’re going to let the chips fall where they may.”
Defense impressed by new offensive looks
Tim Polasek was hired as UW’s offensive coordinator in February following the departure of Brent Vigen, who took the head coaching job at Montana State. The early feedback on the “reengineered” offense has been positive thus far, with players lauding the energy Polasek – most recently the offensive line coach at the University of Iowa and previously the offensive coordinator at North Dakota State – brings to the table.
Redshirt sophomore cornerback C.J. Coldon has noticed a difference in the way the defense has been attacked this spring.
“No disrespect to coach Vigen or anything, but I feel like they’re attacking people a lot more (as of now),” Coldon said. “I feel like they will attack people a lot more and try to go for the deep ball, those shots. You’ll see a lot more of those, a lot more movement with the offense as far as motion. A lot of different things that Vigen didn’t do.”
Personnel-wise, Bohl told reporters redshirt freshman offensive lineman Latrell Bible has moved back inside to guard and center this spring after playing tackle in 2020. At tackle, redshirt junior Rudy Stofer, redshirt sophomore Frank Crum and senior Alonzo Velazquez are all taking reps, Bohl said. Velazquez missed the entire 2020 season with a shoulder injury.
Two players have tested positive for COVID-19 this spring, Bohl said, and he is still encouraging players to receive vaccinations. Players and staff are still being tested twice a week, though Bohl isn’t sure how long that will last.
“I’ve talked to a couple of my colleagues around the country; they’ve been shut down. They haven’t been able to make it through some of their spring practices. So, we’ve got to stay COVID-free,” Bohl said. “We’re encouraging our players to vaccinate. We’re getting a good portion that are able to do that.”