The Wyoming football team got some great news on it's depth next season. Two seniors were granted a sixth year of eligibility due to missing previous seasons due to medical issues. Defensive tackle Patricks Mertens and linebacker Devyn Harris will be able to suit up for the Pokes again in 2014. This is great news for a defensive unit that certainly took it's lumps last season. Senior leadership and depth will be key as they work to turn things around under new head coach Craig Bohl.
Mertens missed the entire 2011 season after dealing with a major illness. The fact that he was even able to come back and play football at all is incredible. Mertens was voted as a defensive captain for the 2013 season, he started all 12 games and record 34 tackles, two sacks, five tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. With the switch to a 4-3, strong play at defensive tackle will be vital for Wyoming's success. Mertens has started 30 of his 36 games as a Cowboy.
Harris played well in the 2012 opener in Texas, unfortunately he was injured in the second half and missed the remainder of the year. In 2011 he recorded 65 tackles. Last year he appeared in nine games and came on strong towards the end of the season. His key stop in overtime helped the Pokes defeat Hawaii. At 6-3 240lbs he provides great size. The Cowboys now return seven of their top eight tackle leaders from 2013.
With classes back in session there was also some news on players not returning. With the head coaching change there was expected to be some high turnover. The damage appears to be fairly minor though. Llinebacker Zack Berg is transferring to an unknown school and center Albert Perez has decided not to return. Berg earned the starting spot heading into the 2012 season but fell down the depth chart and only recorded seven tackles. He failed to record a tackle in 2013. Perez was a junior college transfer from East Los Angeles CC and started several games to begin the year. Injuries hurt his effectiveness and he ended up not playing most of the second half. Football proved to be the ticket for Perez to continue his education out of high school. Certainly hope he is able to finish his degree.
While Wyoming lost their top two quarterbacks this off season, the rest of the losses are not nearly as severe. Getting Mertens and Harris back are fantastic news for the Pokes. J.J. Quinlan had his request for a medical redshirt denied as he continued to practice the year he tore his pectoral muscle.