University of Wyoming UW Cowboys football helmet white

LARAMIE – It takes a unique student-athlete to play quarterback at the University of Wyoming, and the Cowboys’ 2022 commitments at the position seem to fit this bill.

Evan Svoboda and Caden Becker are not your typical signal-callers, standing 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-4, respectively, and possessing dual-threat abilities that mesh with UW’s run-first attack. While each has supreme confidence in their arm talent, they’re equally inclined to drive their shoulder into a defender and fight for extra yardage on the ground.

Svoboda and Becker both agree that such a mindset is necessary when lining up behind center for the Pokes.

“You can’t be afraid to put your foot in the ground and run,” Becker said. “I don’t like going out of bounds, personally. I like to get as many yards as I can, and lower my shoulder and run over guys.”

Added Svoboda on his mentality in the open field: “I’m looking to bowl people over.”

Becker – a three-star recruit and the No. 11 high school prospect from Nebraska, according to 247Sports – made his commitment to UW official during the early signing period in December.

Initially committed to Northern Illinois, the Omaha, Nebraska, product flipped to Wyoming last April. He went on to compile 1,782 total yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior, while leading Skutt Catholic to the Class B semifinals.

“I would have to say (offensive coordinator Tim) Polasek for sure,” Becker said on what drew him to UW. “I just really like him, his personality and his coaching style. The system they run fits my skill set a lot better than what they run at NIU.

“It’s balanced with running and throwing. That’s something they sold me, being a dual-threat quarterback. I wouldn’t say I’m better at one more than the other, but it’s a good balance of both of those things.”

Becker’s commitment to growing as a quarterback is something that stood out to UW’s staff during the recruiting process. His mobility – he’s been clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash – is another plus, given the Pokes’ offensive tendencies.

“Even after he had committed, he took the opportunity to come up here and work out with coach Polasek primarily just because he wanted to be coached,” UW director of recruiting Ian McGrew said during a Dec. 15 news conference. “He wanted to get better. That’s something that can’t be underestimated, especially in a quarterback.

“He’s an athletic guy. He can run very well, and he has an accurate, strong arm. He has a lot of upside, and combined with his work ethic, we feel good about the caliber of kid we’re getting.”

While Svoboda did not make his commitment to UW official until last Wednesday, he’s had his eye on the Cowboys for the better part of the past couple years.

The Pokes started recruiting him while he was at Red Mountain High in Mesa, Arizona, but with a handful of players returning with extra eligibility, they did not extend an offer at the time. Like Cowboys great-turned-NFL superstar Josh Allen, Svoboda decided to go the junior college route.

There are striking similarities between the two quarterbacks. Allen was listed at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds in Laramie, while Svoboda arrives from Snow College at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds. Both also have deceptive speed to go along with their arm strength.

“Hearing his story is kind of what got me tied into Cowboy football,” Svoboda said. “Just seeing how he went JUCO and nobody wanted him, then he goes to Wyoming and balls out. That’s what inspired me actually.”

After throwing for 1,286 yards and 13 touchdowns with a 56% completion rate in seven games as a high school senior, Svoboda only attempted 12 passes last season at Snow College. However, he still says his JUCO experience was a valuable one in terms of his development.

“Learning how to signal, and being a signaler and taking them in while you’re on the field, I actually never did that throughout high school,” he said. “It was more of just a wristband and you call the play in the huddle. (At Snow College), I was checking stuff at the line and telling guys what to do.”

With Levi Williams and Sean Chambers – who combined to start all 13 games for the Cowboys in 2021 – both transferring out, UW’s quarterback room has 13 total pass attempts at the college level.

This development has created what appears to be a wide-open battle for the starting quarterback job that will include the newcomers, as well as returners Gavin Beerup, Jayden Clemons and Hank Gibbs.

Svoboda, who will arrive in Laramie this week and take part in spring practice later in the semester, is eager for the chance to compete for a starting spot.

“It’s super exciting,” he said. “Having that opportunity right in front of me and being able to compete against those guys at that high level, I’m so excited for it.”

Becker is also looking forward to the opportunity to see the field early in his career.

UW hasn’t opened the season with a true freshman starting at quarterback since Brett Smith in 2011, but it’s not unprecedented for Pokes to lean on a first-year signal-caller. Chambers went 3-0 in three starts as a true freshman in 2018, and held the starting job until midway through last season.

Regardless of when he gets his first significant playing time, Becker is going to do everything he can to keep improving in the meantime.

“I still have quite a bit to learn,” he said. “I still have to learn the playbook, and all the route concepts and all that type of stuff. But it definitely gets me excited. If I don’t win the job my first year, I’m going to keep my head down and keep working hard until I earn it ... I’ll have all my best years on the back end if I don’t end up getting it.”

Chambers lands at Montana State

Chambers is reuniting with his former offensive coordinator after announcing Sunday night he had committed to Montana State University.

The Bobcats are coached by Brent Vigen, who was UW’s offensive coordinator from 2014-20. Vigen coached Montana State to a 12-3 record and the Football Championship Subdivision championship game. The Bobcats lost to North Dakota State 38-10 on Saturday.

Chambers started the 2021 season as Wyoming’s starter, completing 51% of his passes for 1,125 yards and six touchdowns with seven interceptions. UW started the season 4-0, but went 2-6 during Mountain West play. Chambers was replaced by Levi Williams during the Pokes’ seventh game of the season.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder completed 158 of 324 passes (49%) for 2,312 yards, 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during his UW career. He also rushed for 1,092 yards and 15 touchdowns on 222 carries.

The Kerman, California, product was 13-6 as a starter in Laramie.

Josh Criswell covers the University of Wyoming for WyoSports. He can be reached at jcriswell@wyosports.net or 307-755-3325. Follow him on Twitter at @criswell_sports.

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