LARAMIE -- More than 2,500 college football players have entered the NCAA transfer portal since this time a year ago.

A one-time transfer ruling only made the tide rise. The lure of immediate playing time at a new institution went into effect last April.

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Levi Williams said that thought never crossed his mind though the quarterback started five of the Cowboys' six games last fall under center only to find himself No. 2 on the depth chart behind Sean Chambers at the conclusion of spring practice.

In the age of instant gratification, the redshirt freshman said his reasoning isn't all that complicated.

"I feel like I owe this team more. I owe the state more. I'm really dedicated to them," Williams said at the team's annual media day last week in Laramie. "I feel like I can do things that not a lot of guys can. I mean, last year, I was hindered a lot of the season ever since (the Hawaii game) with my shoulder. I don't want to go out on a bad note. I don't want to have a bad taste in my mouth."

With 5:52 remaining in the first half and the Cowboys looking to add onto a 10-0 lead deep inside Hawaii territory, Williams took the shotgun snap and immediately looked to his right.

Cortez Davis came from the left -- unblocked.

The 'Bows safety blew past Wyoming tackle Latrell Bible and smoked Williams in the small of the back and drove him into the frozen turf inside War Memorial Stadium. The Cowboys' signal caller lost the ball. Worst of all, the brunt of that hit was reserved for his throwing shoulder.

"That's what triggered it," Williams said of that Week 2 blast from the blindside.

"It" was a right shoulder injury that hampered the Texas native from that point forward.

"He really took a couple hard hits," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "Many times it was probably until Wednesday that he was able to really do much throwing at all. He'd wake up on Monday and couldn't hardly lift his arm above 90 degrees."

Williams, who was sacked 14 times last fall, failed to complete 50% of his passes in 2020. He tossed just one touchdown pass compared to three interceptions. Over his final three games of the season, two of which he left early with injuries, Williams completed just 15 of 39 passes for 217 yards and a pick. In a 17-9 season-ending loss to Boise State in snow-covered Laramie, he hit just three of 13 throws for 45 yards.

It was obvious Williams wasn't right.

"CSU was when it really really got bad," Williams said of his 321-yard passing night in Fort Collins, by far his best statistical outing of the season. "After that game I had a lot of problems. There's was a lot of popping and cracking."

 

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Williams dedicated himself this offseason to finding the perfect weight that would not take away from his bruising running style, but also add mobility inside the pocket. He says playing at 230 is ideal and he feels "better in every way."

A year prior, a video of Williams dragging a car up a driveway with a rope popped up on social media. This summer it was a photo of him standing next to former Super Bowl champion quarterback, Trent Dilfer.

Last May, Dilfer said on the Ryen Russillo podcast that a quarterback in Laramie caught his eye.

"There's a kid at Wyoming -- I don't even know his name -- he split time last year," Dilfer said at the 42:24 mark. "He played in a bowl game after his freshman year. He's -- Josh Allen. He's 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and is a freak athlete. He can throw the ball wherever he wants. He's not super accurate right now, but he's a freak. And he's splitting time at Wyoming."

Williams and Dilfer got together in Nashville in late July and took part in some throwing sessions.

"He's a really good guy, a really good coach, and really understands how to trigger things in your mind and help your body figure it out," Williams said.

It didn't surprise Bohl to see that connection happen.

"I think Levi has got a lot of ability," he said. "We appreciate the fact that he's trying to work and get better."

Bohl said Friday that Chambers is in the lead for the starting quarterback spot though he failed to commit to a starter on opening day when Montana State rolls into town. Tim Polasek, the Cowboys first-year offensive coordinator, said he looks forward to the progression this fall and will ride the "hot hand."

The coaching staff isn't calling it an open competition, but Williams feels like he still has every opportunity to be under center Sept. 4 against the Bobcats.

He has just 25 days to prove he's the right choice.

"I know that we have fall camp and that's just another opportunity to compete," Williams said. "That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to push and push and push. I mean, I'm gunning for that spot. That's the spot that I want. That's just who I am."

Just The Facts: Size Doesn't Matter For Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium

Did you know it would take the populations of Gillette (32,857), Laramie (32,381), Rock Springs (23,319), Sheridan (17,844) and Wright (1,200) to create a sellout inside Michigan's famed 107,601-seat Big House, the largest college football stadium in the nation?

For those of you not familiar with the Cowboy State, those are Wyoming's third through sixth most inhabited cities, along with the small mining town in Campbell County.

- Just The Facts: Size Doesn't Matter For Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium