LARAMIE – First impressions don’t get much better than Isaiah Neyor’s.

Playing in just his second career game, the University of Wyoming redshirt freshman wide receiver lined up with the Cowboys’ offense toward the end of the first quarter of UW’s 2020 season opener at Nevada in October.

The circumstances up to that point in the game were pretty grim – starting quarterback Sean Chambers had broken his left leg just three plays into the Cowboys’ season, and the Wolf Pack offense was proving more dynamic than previously anticipated under the leadership of quarterback Carson Strong.

The UW offense, now led by redshirt freshman quarterback Levi Williams, needed a sign of life. Anything, really.

Neyor’s first career catch provided all that and then some.

On a first-down play, Williams heaved the ball down the middle of the field a good 40 yards or so. The 6-foot-3 Neyor was locked in tight coverage with a Nevada defender, with another Nevada on his way to make a play. Neyor’s only chance of catching the slightly underthrown pass was to be an acrobat.

Neyor high-pointed the ball over the defender by reaching back, catching the pass in his fully outstretched arms. His first career catch was good for 45 yards and provided a glimpse into what was to come.

Though Neyor caught just eight passes in 2020, he averaged a whopping 31 yards per reception. Had he made enough catches to qualify, it’s a number that would have led all of college football.

“I think he’s the best deep-ball receiver in the country,” redshirt senior receiver Ayden Eberhardt said. “The numbers don’t lie.”

Neyor, an All-Mountain West honorable mention honoree, was recently asked himself if he was the best deep ball receiver in college football. After a moment’s hesitation, trying to talk through his thought processes while maintaining his humility, Neyor said yes, he holds that title.

“I want to say yes. Every player should think the best of themselves,” Neyor said.

He then continued, with a bit more confidence.

“I’m going to say yes, because that’s my game right there,” he said.

Neyor is among the best deep receiving threats in college football for a handful of reasons – his combination of size and speed certainly don’t hurt those endeavors – but it’s a quiet belief in self that provides him an edge on each on every single pass that’s thrown his way.

And, with a bit of experience under his belt, Neyor is ready for his encore performance.

“That (first season) definitely built my confidence right there,” Neyor said. “I’m just looking forward to being more productive than I was.”

Neyor admits there were times in 2020 he was frustrated with not getting the ball consistently. There were a number of issues in the passing game for the Cowboys last season, and Chambers getting injured on the season’s first drive didn’t help.

Given how productive he made each of his catches, Neyor wanted more opportunities to make plays. But 2020 was a subtle lesson in patience for him. He learned that, quite frankly, there would be times he wasn’t going to get the looks he wanted.

All that did was make him realize he had to make each grab count even more.

“It was frustrating having games where not targeted as much … you have to make every catch count,” Neyor said. “But I felt like I did what I could.”

The deep ball part of Neyor’s game has always been there – he averaged 22 yards per catch his senior season at Lamar High in Arlington, Texas – and it will always be something he takes a lot of pride in and excels at.

But for Neyor to take the next step as a college football player, he knows he has to start being better at the little things. Excelling in the short passing game and making routine plays consistently are the next step in Neyor’s evolution as a football player.

A lot of that comes with practice time and on-field repetitions, he said. And that’s what he’s been focusing on this off season. Teammates have started to take notice.

“As you watch practice, you can see him progressing every single day, getting better and better,” Eberhardt said. “Even in the film room, when he talks, you can see him progressing and getting into the mindset of a more experienced receiver.”

Those deep receptions, though? The ones that made him a household name in the Mountain West? They will always hold a special place in his heart.

Especially that first one in Reno, Nevada.

“For (the 45-yard grab against Nevada) to be my first catch, it’ll definitely be something I remember for a long time,” Neyor said.

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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