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By Robert Gagliardi
WyoSports 

True freshman Wingard turning heads with Cowboys

 

Jeremy Martin/WyoSports

Andrew Wingard runs through drills during the Wyoming Cowboys' fall camp. Wingard has turned some heads and could see playing time as a true freshman.

LARAMIE – Fast, crazy and fun.

Those are the words University of Wyoming true freshman free safety Andrew Wingard used to describe his first few days of fall camp.

Wingard's coaches also have liked what they've seen from the 6-foot, 195-pounder from Ralston Valley High in Aurora, Colorado.

"His field presence, No. 1," UW safeties coach and pass game coordinator Curt Mallory said.

"And, he's a football player. He's physically mature. He doesn't look like a freshman coming out there. Mentally, he's grasped things out here and come along throughout the summer.

"We still have a lot to put in, but he's shown some promise."

On the first day of fall camp Monday, Wingard intercepted two passes. That caught the eye of second-year coach Craig Bohl, who has said all summer that Wingard is one of several true freshmen who will get a hard look to see if they can play this season.

Wingard, who played safety throughout high school, has been working with UW's first- and second-team defensive units early in camp.

Wingard was given the nickname "Sunshine," after the character in the football movie "Remember the Titans," due to his long, blonde hair. But Wingard said his nickname has always been "Dewey" and that the only person who calls him by his first name is Mallory.

Wingard said it was the work he put in during the summer that has put him in a position to be seen as a contributor this season.

"I came in and worked my butt off," he said. "That benefitted me in working as hard as I possibly could. I knew (UW strength coach Zach Duval) talked to coach Bohl every day."

Wingard takes a lot of pride in his game, but said his best attribute is his speed. He said his fastest time in the 40-yard dash is 4.48 seconds.

During the summer, all UW players had races up and down the grassy hills next to the Arena-Auditorium, and Wingard said he won a few of them.

"I've known I had (a chance to play right away) when I committed because of my speed, instincts, and there's not much depth at safety right now," Wingard said.

Nor is there much experience.

The two-deep roster heading into fall camp at both safety positions consisted of three redshirt freshmen and a sophomore who have never played a game at UW.

Two of those players are walk-ons.

Redshirt freshman walk-on Adam Pilapil was the starter heading into camp, and Wingard said Pilapil has been his "ultimate mentor."

"It's been awesome. I came in, didn't run my mouth. I brought my lunch pail in and worked as hard as I could. Guys have embraced me well," Wingard said.

There's a lot of practice and preparation time left before UW's first game, and a big test is today, when UW has its first practice in full pads.

Wingard is confident in his abilities, but also humble enough to know there is still a lot of work for him to do.

"The No. 1 thing that will keep a guy off the field in football is not knowing the playbook," Wingard said.

"I need to know my keys and assignments, and show physicality. You have to do that to play college football. "

More safety news

Mallory is in his first season at UW after replacing David Brown, who left after last season.

Mallory enters his 24th year as a college coach and was at Michigan from 2011-14 before coming to Laramie.

While nothing is set in stone in terms of who will play where at the two safety spots, Mallory likes what he sees from his group, going back to the 15 practices during the spring.

"I was encouraged coming out of spring because of the way they came to work every day," he said. "They're hungry to learn and get better. I like their attitude. We still have a ways ago, but the improvement we made from Day 1 to Day 15 in the spring carried over in the summer.

"You can't put a price on experience, and none of them have it right now. There will be some growing pains, but I'm confident they will get better, because that's been their approach so far."

 
 

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