Wyoming’s Re-Commitments Could Pay Biggest Dividends
LARAMIE -- Jay Sawvel proudly boasted Wednesday that of the 41 official visits high school prospects made to Laramie this fall, 32 of those guys have now signed on the dotted line.
Impressive? You bet.
It's the three players that re-committed to Wyoming, though, that may end up paying the biggest immediate dividends this fall: wide receiver Alex Brown, defensive tackle Jordan Bertagnole and linebacker Shae Suiaunoa.
"That's probably the best work we could have done in the transfer portal," Wyoming's rookie head coach said.
While we are used to Bertagnole and Suiaunoa racking up big numbers and making an impact, Brown has yet to scratch the surface of his potential. That's not an opinion, either. The 6-foot-4, 201-pound pass catchers agrees wholeheartedly.
So does Sawvel.
"As a head coach, he's a guy I want to put the time into myself," he said. "I want to be a big cheerleader behind him because I think he's a really good kid. He's got a lot of talent, and I want to see him have a really good year and elevate himself."
Brown caught just eight passes for 106 yards last season. In his career, the Spring, Texas native has just 17 total grabs for 208 yards. He has hauled in one touchdown pass. It was a memorable one, too.
With 10:47 remaining in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jayden Clemons heaved a pass down the sideline in the direction of Brown. He leapt, high-pointed the ball and glided into the end zone from 32 yards out to give the Cowboys a 14-13 lead.
That was in the 2022 Border War. It was in Fort Collins. That score would stand up and Wyoming claimed its sixth Bronze Boot victory in seven tries over its bitter rival Colorado State.
Sawvel thinks there can be more moments like that one.
"I think he just feels like he's got unfinished business," he said. "And the fact that he really wants to put together a really good last year. I like Alex a lot."
Sawvel likes Bertagnole and Suiaunoa, too.
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Casper native is will also return for a sixth season after tallying 58 tackles last fall on the Cowboys' interior front. Bertagnole also added a pair of sacks and a forced fumble while helping limit the opposition to just 144.5 yards per game on the ground.
Sawvel said he got to brag a bit to departing head coach Craig Bohl when he heard the news.
"I said, 'Bertagnole told me he's coming back,'" he said with a smile. "'He said, 'that's the best recruiting job that you'll do in this cycle.' So, I was pretty happy with that. As you know, Jordan wants to put together a great last year."
Suiaunoa is coming off his best-statistical season in a Wyoming uniform.
The 6-foot-3, 231-pound Houston product registered 93 tackles, second on the team behind Easton Gibbs, who finished with 109. Suiaunoa also added 2.5 sacks and picked off a pass in last November's win over CSU.
He did all that damage on the weakside.
Sawvel said he will now slide in for Gibbs in the middle.
"I'm really excited for him to come back," he said, adding that Suiaunoa suffered a shoulder injury in 2022 that cost him time away from the field in the offseason. "... He's in a position where we're going to expect a lot out of him and put a lot on his plate. And you just see his growth through all of that."
Wyoming's defense will now return nine starters in 2024, only replacing cornerback Jakorey Hawkins and nose guard Cole Godbout.
The wide receivers corps took the biggest hit. Ayir Asante, Wyatt Wieland, Gunner Gentry and Ryan Marquez are gone. Tight ends Treyton Welch and Colin O'Brien are, too.
These acquisitions can't be understated.
"That's three really good ones that aren't on the (recruiting) list," Sawvel said.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
Gallery Credit: 7220Sports.com
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players