LARAMIE -- In this series, we'll assign a grade to all of Wyoming's position groups during the 2022 football season.

Craig Bohl's Cowboys exceeded all expectations last fall, finishing second overall in the Mountain Division behind Boise State.

UW (7-6, 5-3) fielded the third-youngest roster in the nation. At times, it showed. But there were plenty of bright spots, too.

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There was the upset over Air Force, a four-game winning streak, including road victories at New Mexico, Hawaii and Colorado State and eventually a berth in the Arizona Bowl, the program's fifth postseason appearance since 2016.

Let's start the breakdown on the defensive side of the ball.

NICKELBACKS: B-

Keonte Glinton held down the nickel spot during the first six weeks of the season. The sophomore from Bakersfield, Calif., tallied 26 tackles, recovered a fumble and broke up four passes. In what would be his final outing of the 2022 campaign -- and ultimately his UW career -- Glinton registered a season-best nine tackles and appeared to force a crucial fumble in a loss to San Jose State. That call was overturned. Glinton was injured and would never wear a Wyoming uniform again. Enter Wrook Brown. Who? The 5-foot-11, 185-pound redshirt freshman was thrown into the fire on the road at New Mexico. He responded with 10 tackles, including 0.5 for loss and broke up a pass in a 27-14 victory in Albuquerque. Brown, who played sparingly throughout the first few weeks of the season, solidified the nickel spot, racking up 36 tackles and knocking down three passes. He also had an interception for a touchdown against Hawaii that was overturned thanks to a roughing-the-passer penalty.

 

Explanation

While the "weak link" of this Cowboys' defense was at the corner spot, the nickel position received a B- because of the way Brown -- a no-named rookie -- stepped in and went to work. When his name appeared on the roster, eyebrows went up. When he spoke to the media in Albuquerque, the Salado, Texas product could've been confused for a trainer. He's not a big guy. He doesn't play that way, though. Brown, surprisingly, is a physical, sure-tackler. He proved that over the final seven games of the season. This grade would've risen, but the Cowboys' pass defense allowed nearly 220 yards through the air per outing. Slot receivers like Tulsa's Keylon Stokes -- 11 catches, 169 yards and a touchdown -- had a field day against the Pokes. Same can be said for BYU's Keanu Hill (5 catches, 160 yards, two touchdowns) and SJSU's Charles Ross (6 catches, 66 yards).

 

UW FOOTBALL REPORT CARDS:

* Linebackers

* Defensive tackles

* Defensive ends

 

Position coach

Benny Boyd - Entering fourth season

 

Returners

Wrook Brown (5-foot-11, 185 pounds, sophomore); Buck Coors (5-foot-11, 187 pounds, sophomore); Malique Singleton (6-foot, 170 pounds, redshirt freshman)

 

Newcomers

N/A

 

Departures

Keonte Glinton (6-foot, 190 pounds, sophomore - NCAA Transfer Portal); Zaire Jackson (5-foot-11, 179 pounds, redshirt freshman - NCAA Transfer portal)

 

2023 Outlook

Wyoming's coaching staff has made no bones about it: they have high hopes for all three of the current nickelbacks. Brown proved himself on the field, Buck Coors has proved himself in practice and the way he battled back from a broken leg suffered on the opening play of a fall scrimmage. "Buck Coors is showing some real promise," Craig Bohl said during a mid-camp press conference last August. "He's a guy who could always run, but he's shown that he's starting to understand football a little bit more. So he's going to get moved up the depth chart some. How far? I don't know." Coors appeared in the final five games of the season, tallying two tackles on special teams. Bohl and Co. also really like Malique Singleton. When Bohl was inevitably asked if any true freshman might see the field in 2022, the Colorado product was included in that very short list of names. He maintained his redshirt status, appearing in just two games last fall. This position could be a real strength in '23. Brown should be the leader of the pack entering the spring, but Coors and Singleton are nipping at his heels. That's a good problem to have. With games against Texas Tech and Texas on the non-conference slate, this group will be tested early and often.

University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

During the summer of 2021, 7220Sports.com counted down the Top 50 football players in University of Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.

The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.

This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining 7220's Cody Tucker are Robert GagliardiJared NewlandRyan Thorburn, and Kevin McKinney.

We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is fairer.

Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter: @7220sports - #Top50UWFB

- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

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