University of Wyoming tight end Treyton Welch is looking to expand his production for the Cowboys this season.

LARAMIE – Crossing items off his list of goals one by one, University of Wyoming true sophomore tight end Treyton Welch is always looking toward something more.

Welch, who hails from Minnesota, has long kept a personal “to do” list for himself. It’s constantly evolved, but over the years has included:

Starting on his high school varsity football team

Playing on the national team

Participating in Nike: The Opening Camp

Playing Division I football

Playing in the NFL

He has been fortunate enough to cross off every goal on his list thus far except the very last one, which remains a work in progress. And while he has a way to go to reach his lofty NFL dreams, having a set list of things to accomplish drives Welch.

His list serves as a constant reminder that talking about reaching for goals isn’t what’s going to make them happen. It’s the work he puts in each and every day that will allow him to cross that final item off.

In some ways, Welch is a philosopher in a football player’s body. He spends much of his free time reading books, including those of the “self help” variety. One book, “The Slight Edge,” has taught him the importance of bettering himself every day and not comparing his progress to other people’s.

As Welch likes to says, it’s always you vs. you.

“I still have the bulletin board with all my goals up there. And I look at it every day. And I remind myself why I’m here,” Welch said. “Everybody has a ‘why.’ And you just have to stick with that ‘why’ and know that ‘why.’”

Welch, who has five receptions in his Cowboys career, came to UW as one of the most prolific pass catchers in the history of Minnesota high school football. According to the Minnesota Football Coaches Association, Welch finished his career at Buffalo High with 2,824 receiving yards, ranking seventh in state history. Among the names he eclipsed in the process is Larry Fitzgerald, the Pro Football Hall of Fame-bound receiver who has more than 17,000 yards in his professional career.

Catching the ball was never going to be a problem for the 6-foot-3 Welch at any level of football. How he would line up on the field in college, though, is another story.

Welch played wide receiver in high school, working exclusively on the outside and occasionally in the backfield. When he showed up at Wyoming, he became a tight end. For someone who had admittedly never been in a three-point stance in his life, it wasn’t the easiest transition.

But Welch has put in time perfecting his craft, so much so that UW coach Craig Bohl said the tight end has looked “dynamic” this spring. Welch has consciously added weight in the offseason. In turn, he is able to fight through contact better than ever and has become a much more efficient blocker.

“He’s got really strong hands. And if he goes up for a contested ball … I mean, nine times out of 10, he’s coming down with the ball,” Bohl said. “He’s a player that finds ways to get open.

“We have not had a really dominant tight end since (Buffalo Bills tight end Jacob) Hollister, and he’s had a good NFL career. I think there’s a lot out there for Treyton. He owns his work.”

In addition to changing up his body this offseason, Welch has put a personal emphasis on catching those 50-50 balls, on winning matchups with tightly draped defenders. Winning contested catches is a mindset, too. You have to work for it.

“There’s always going to be somebody there in college football. And I found that out through the years,” Welch said. “You have to have tight hands with the squeeze and catch the ball.

“There’s some tough dudes out there. You have to be the best in what you do.”

LB battle heating up

Redshirt freshman linebacker Easton Gibbs and redshirt sophomore Chuck Hicks are locked in a battle for the starting weakside linebacker spot, Bohl told reporters Thursday. Hicks finished the 2020 season with 27 total tackles and was named Mountain West defensive player of the week on Nov. 2, 2020, after a dominant showing against Hawaii. Hicks had two sacks, two tackles for loss and an interception in a 31-7 win over the Rainbow Warriors.

Gibbs started in Hicks’ place in the season finale against Boise State after Hicks suffered a knee injury at New Mexico. Gibbs thrived, finishing with 13 tackles, which tied him for the team lead with junior Chad Muma.

“They are battling it out,” Bohl said. “And one of the things that I found through the years is nothing brings out the good in a man faster than competition and inter-squad competition.”

Different draft

For the first time since 2016, UW will not have a player taken in the NFL draft, which started Thursday and runs through the weekend. That’s not a bad thing. All of the Cowboys eligible for the draft opted to return, including seniors who were given the option of an additional season by the NCAA due to the COVID-19-plagued 2020 season.

UW returns all of its starters on offense and defense, an exciting proposition for the 2021 edition of the Cowboys. That does mean, however, that Bohl will simply be a spectator this year, as opposed to someone with a vested interest. Last year, he watched linebackers Logan Wilson and Cassh Maluia get drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots in the third and sixth rounds, respectively.

Bohl still has fond memories of the 2018 draft, where UW quarterback Josh Allen was selected seventh overall by the Buffalo Bills.

“I remember all the teams circling around, everybody’s trying to find the golden goose, the quarterback. And at that time, it was (Oklahoma’s) Baker Mayfield, (USC’s) Sam Darnold, Josh (Allen), I think there was (UCLA’s) Josh Rosen,” Bohl said. “The NFL really does a phenomenal job with the draft. They’ve turned that into a major event.

“We don’t have anybody this year. But I think we will here in the future.”

Michael Katz covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at mkatz@wyosports.net or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @michaellkatz.

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