- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 5, 2014

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - New Wyoming coach Craig Bohl started to put his stamp on the Cowboys program, signing his first class of recruits that emphasizes a strong defense and a pro-style offense.

“I think, we by and large, we did better than what we thought we were going to do in the short amount of time,” Bohl said Wednesday. “I think this will bear out to be a very good class.”

Bohl was hired by Wyoming in December to replace Dave Christensen, who was fired after five seasons. He came to Wyoming after 11 seasons with North Dakota State, where he led the Bison to three straight Football Championship Subdivision titles.

The 22 recruits he signed include 20 high school athletes and two community college players, three quarterbacks, four tight ends, five defensive linemen and four defensive backs.

Wyoming is in need of quarterbacks after starter Brett Smith announced he was foregoing his senior season to enter the NFL draft. Smith leaves as UW’s career leader in total offense and touchdown passes.

In addition, backup quarterback Jason Thompson transferred to Utah.

Community college transfer quarterback Aaron Young is among Bohl’s recruits. Young has already enrolled at Wyoming and will have three years of eligibility.

With Wyoming switching from Christensen’s spread offense to a pro-style offense, Bohl needed to find tight ends. Tight ends didn’t play much of a role in the spread offense, and Wyoming had only one on the roster.

Bohl favors an offense that will control the ball more with sustained drives.

“Tight ends are important in that offense,” he said.

On defense, Bohl likes a squad that is strong along the defensive line, starting at defensive tackle.

“We looked to sign some really good players, and I think we hit a home run there,” he said.

Bohl said he had to take recruiting up a level from the type of players he looked for at North Dakota State.

“It is different,” he said. “I think speed, athleticism, size come into play. … We needed to step up.”

But he’s been a coach long enough to know that not a lot is known about the recruits he signed Wednesday.

“The proof’s really going to be in the pudding in probably about three years,” Bohl said. “Some of these guys will have a contribution this fall, but you’re going to find out a lot more about them in about two or three years.”

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