Could Treyton Welch be Wyoming’s missing piece on offense?
LARAMIE -- When Treyton Welch was in middle school he put a list of goals on his bedroom wall.
He looked at them every day. It became a checklist of sorts.
Make varsity: Check
Compete in major national football camp: Check
Play Division-I football: Check.
The sophomore tight end has slashed through all those with a marker, but he still has goals. They are also on his wall. This time in his room in Laramie.
"That list was very special to me," Welch said Thursday night. "So, I was able to -- with the Lord's will -- I have been able to cross off every single one."
Except one: The NFL.
There's still plenty of time for that goal to be reached.
Welch didn't get into what words are currently written on note cards on his corkboard, but you can venture to guess one of them is to start making plays in the Cowboys' passing game. Last fall, his sophomore season at UW, Welch snagged just five balls for 95 yards. For the second straight year, he served primarily as a blocker for the Mountain West's top running back, Xazavian Valladay.
It hasn't always been an easy transition.
"Being in the trenches with the linemen, like I said, before college, I was never in a three-point stance in high school. I was always that receiver, split out," he said.
That's not all.
Check out these numbers Welch put up during his senior season at Buffalo High School in Minnesota: 71 receptions, 1,302 yards, 16 touchdowns. Those are all school records. In fact, Welch is the second leading receiver in Minnesota prep history.
No. 1 is Michael Floyd. He played for Notre Dame before spending eight years in the NFL.
No. 3 is Larry Fitzgerald. Yes, that guy. Only Jerry Rice has more receiving yards in NFL history.
Pretty good company.
"Yeah, that was a really cool moment when I found that out," Welch said with a smile. "I didn't even know until our senior night banquet. Our head coach at the time stood up and kind of went through the stats and it shocked me. I was really grateful to be in that position. So, it was a surreal moment for sure. I looked up to Larry Fitzgerald many times throughout high school and elementary school. I think he's one of the most underrated receivers in the league for sure."
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said he didn't know that tidbit about Welch. Impressed? You bet. His athleticism and pass-catching ability is partly why Wyoming's staff recruited him. Bohl did say there was a moment that he thought Welch could change his mind. A guy name Tim Polasek at the University of Iowa was very interested in the 6-foot-3, 233-pound pass catcher.
"We're really fortunate to have him," Bohl said. "You know, Tim was at Iowa, and I thought they were going to recruit him. I know he pounded the table and they went a different direction. We jumped up and down and he's really embraced Wyoming."
Polasek was hired to become the Cowboys' new offensive coordinator in early February.
"When I found out Polasek was our guy, I was pretty excited," Welch said.
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Bohl has mentioned Welch's name numerous times this spring. He's talked about the way he goes up and high-points balls. He also mentioned the strength of his hands to keep the ball secure in the midst of linebackers and oncoming safeties.
"He's doing some dynamic things," Bohl said. "He's got really excellent ability come up and make catches when they're contested."
Bohl has also been impressed with Welch's physical transformation. In 2019, he played at just over 200 pounds. Now, he's approaching 240.
"He's put on some lean muscle mass and he's running better," Bohl said. "He's becoming much more comfortable with the route tree at the tight end position. He's becoming a very capable blocker, simply because of his strength and his athleticism."
Welch is an articulate young man. He thinks before he speaks. He said one of his favorite past times is reading books. In early April, Welch was named to the Academic All-Mountain West team. He's majoring in business. That means he's carrying at least a 3.0 grade point average.
Yeah, he's smart. But he's tough, too.
Welch manned the left wing for his high school hockey team. As a senior, he scored five goals and dished out four assists. He tried to model his game after NHL star Zach Parise, another Minnesota native, but admittedly wasn't that graceful. Like Parise though, he said, he wanted to possess that same work ethic and drive.
More impressive to some, he racked up 24 penalty minutes in just 23 games. That equals grit on the ice.
"I was not always getting the goals, but just always there for my teammates and always working hard," he said. "You know, I was never the more crafty skilled guy, but I was always the guy that was a bruiser, you know. So that was the penalty minutes."
Welch figured to be a major contributor to Bohl's re-engineered offense this fall. The tight end spot hasn't been a main target over the past four years since a guy named Jacob Hollister lined up at the position five seasons ago. He's now a Buffalo Bill, catching passes from his college teammate, Josh Allen.
Bohl said he wants that type of production from that position this fall. In fact, he said, it's imperative if the Cowboys hope to possess a balanced attack.
"We've not had, I think, a really dominant tight end since probably Hollister, and he's had a good NFL career," Bohl said. "So, I think there's a lot out there for Treyton. He owns his work. He works really hard. He's got a lot of ability and we're going to utilize his skill set. If we can, you know, have an attacking tight end once again, it's going to open up that playbook for coach Polasek."
Welch isn't shying away from those lofty expectations. He's embracing them.
His skillset had Power-5 teams like Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona and Minnesota flirting with him during his recruitment, but the challenge an opportunity of becoming a missing piece for Wyoming's offense was enough for him to call Laramie home.
"I am very grateful for that point of view, for sure," Welch said of the faith his coaches have in him. "I'm excited. I tell the tight end group, when our name is called, we're going to go out and we're going to answer that call. So, if my name is called, if my number is called, I'm going to go make a play -- point blank."