Laramie, Wyo. (Feb. 6, 2013) -- One of the most anticipated days of the year for any college football program is National Signing Day, and on Wednesday the University of Wyoming announced the signing of 23 student-athletes as new members of the Cowboy Football program.
Head coach Dave Christensen announced his fifth recruiting class at Wyoming at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. Of the 23 signees announced, 11 of them, or nearly half, are already on campus. Four freshmen and six junior college transfers enrolled at UW for the 2013 spring semester. The 11th member already on campus is junior wide receiver Justin Berger, who was awarded a scholarship after walking on to the Cowboy Football team last fall.
The other 12 members of the 2013 Wyoming recruiting class were announced for the first time on Wednesday. Those 12 new names included 11 high school seniors and one junior college offensive linemen.
The class was well-balanced, with 11 recruits on offense, 11 on defense and one special-teams recruit.
Four states had multiple players sign with UW. There were seven signees from the state of California, five from Colorado, three from Arizona and two from Illinois. One player each signed from the states of Wyoming, Hawai'i, Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin -- for a total of 10 different states being represented.
"I feel like we met our immediate needs on the defensive side of the ball with guys who can come in and compete and contribute right away," said Christensen. "We've added two quality high school running backs (Omar Stover and Joshua Tapscott) -- one of who joined us at the semester (Stover). Both are outstanding players.
"We signed five offensive linemen, including a junior college center and four really good high school linemen, and we added some good depth on the defensive line.
"We have a quarterback (Tom Thornton), who originally signed with us last year and gray-shirted. He will come into the program with another year of maturity.
"We didn't recruit heavily in the receiving department, mainly because we lost only one player (senior Chris McNeill) at that position. But we signed a very good high school receiver (Tanner Gentry) and rewarded another player (Justin
Berger), who walked on to our team last year, with a scholarship.
"One of the scholarships we may have used on a wide receiver in past years, we utilized to sign 6-6, 255-pound junior college tight end, J.D. Krill.
"Linebacker-wise, we signed three junior college players, who are currently with us, and one high school player from the state of Wyoming (Ryan Anaya). They all bring some great athleticism to our defense. We've also added four players in the secondary, who are really good skill players, to add to a group of returning players in that area.
"We also filled a specific need we had on special teams, bringing in a very good high school All-American deep snapper (Brendan Turelli)."
When asked how he viewed having a large percentage of this year's class join the program in January, Christensen described several areas where he felt it would help the Cowboy program.
"I think it is a great advantage to get several of this year's class in here at the semester," said Christensen. "First of all, a number of our mid-year additions are junior college players, who have already played in 20-plus games beyond the high school level, so they come to us with more experience.
"In addition to that added experience, all of the mid-year guys now have the opportunity to go through our winter-conditioning program and develop physically. They have the chance to go through spring ball and get 15 extra practices, so they will be up to speed on what we want them to do heading into the summer."
This year's class includes 15 high school recruits and seven junior college players.
The recruits in the 2013 Wyoming recruiting class bring with them a number of outstanding credentials. Among the individual honors received by the members of this year's class are as follows.
•Safety Xavier Lewis of Aurora, Colo., was named the winner of this year's Denver Post Gold Helmet Award, which symbolizes the top senior football player, scholar and citizen in the state of Colorado each season.
•Junior college tight end J.D. Krill received a three-star rating from Rivals.com, and is ranked as the No. 12 best JC tight end recruit in the nation by 247Sports.com recruiting website.
•Casper, Wyo., native Ryan Anaya helped lead Natrona County High School to the 2012 4A State Championship and an undefeated season as a senior linebacker.
•Xavier Lewis, along with fellow Colorado recruits James Diamanti of Grand Junction and Tanner Gentry of Aurora, were all named to the Denver Post All-Colorado team for all classifications.
•Offensive lineman Connor Riese of Schofield, Wis., is rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, and is ranked as the No. 14 overall recruit in the state of Wisconsin by Rivals.com.
•Junior college defensive tackle Troy Boyland is ranked No. 16 among JC defensive tackle recruits in the country by 247Sports.com.
•Another mid-year transfer, linebacker Jeff Lark from Arizona Western Community College, is rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 17 best outside linebacker among junior college recruits in the nation this year.
•Two other Colorado high school recruits are also ranked among the best in the state of Colorado this year. Defensive lineman Dalton Fields from Colorado Springs is rated by Rivals.com as the No. 14 overall recruit in Colorado, and offensive lineman Taylor Knestis of Lakewood is ranked as the No. 14 overall recruit in Colorado by 247Sports.com.
•Offensive lineman Charlie Renfree of Scottsdale, Ariz., is ranked by 247Sports.com as the No. 34 overall recruit in the state of Arizona.
•Running backs Omar Stover of Bolingbrook, Ill., and Joshua Tapscott of Nokesville, Va., both earned All-State honors this past year. Stover was named All-State Class 8A by the Illinois Football Coaches Association, and Tapscott was named All-State Class AA by VirginiaPreps.com.
•High school recruit Brendan Turelli of Phoenix, Ariz., was named an All-American as a long snapper, and was invited to and played in the 2013 Under Armour All-America game in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 4.
And if you are looking for young men who come from outstanding football families, there are several new Cowboys who bring that tradition to Wyoming.
•High school recruit Timmy Hayes from Los Angeles, Calif., has two cousins currently playing in the NFL. Those cousins are: Reggie Bush, who played running back at USC and is currently the starting running back for the Miami Dolphins; and D'Aundre Reed, who played defensive end at the University of Arizona and is currently with the Minnesota Vikings.
•Safety Tim Kamana, who transferred to Wyoming in January from West Point Prep, is from a long line of college football players. His father, Carter, played football at Michigan State. His grandfather, John Kamana Jr., and his uncle, John Kamana III, both played football at USC.
The national letter-of-intent signing period for football began on Wednesday, Feb. 6 and will conclude on Monday, April 1.