LARAMIE, Wyo. — Milo Hall last carried the football in a game in 2014, but he still remembers it well.
It was the Colorado 5A state championship his senior year between Hall’s Cherry Creek and five-time defending champion Valor Christian.
Trailing by a touchdown with just over 5 minutes to play, Hall took the ball in from 24 yards out on a sweep. The Bruins then scored on a 2-point conversion to take the lead for good.
“Oh man, that was the sweetest,” Hall said. “It didn’t really hit me until actually somewhere around this year. It takes years. But I feel like that touchdown was the most incredible thing I ever did. It happened so fast.”
Saturday, Hall will end his handoff drought. The Wyoming sophomore is slotted to start in the Cowboys’ season opener at Iowa.
“I’m excited to touch the ball again,” he said. “It’s been a while. I feel like I won’t be nervous. I’ll just be more ready.”
Hall didn’t have any carries as a redshirt freshman in 2016, but he did get a feel for a Big Ten atmosphere, as he played one snap at running back at Nebraska.
“I felt like if anything, if I was going to be nervous, that was the time,” Hall told the Casper Star-Tribune (http://bit.ly/2wmKAx7). “So when I step into Iowa, I’ll be more confident and ready for that one.”
He leads a coalition of running backs expected to share the run-game responsibilities for Wyoming this year, along with junior Nico Evans and sophomore Kellen Overstreet.
“(It’s) much better than the years before, because you know we’re working for something,” said Evans, who had 11 carries for 33 yards as a sophomore. “I don’t mean to say that we weren’t before, but you know you’re going to out there, and the team’s going to depend on you to carry that rock.
“It’s kind of fun knowing that, knowing that you get to go back to being the man, like you were in high school, knowing I get to share it with some of my closest friends like Kellen and Milo. It’s going to be pretty fun.”
Overstreet did not play in 2016 because of a right ACL tear suffered in the 2015 season finale. He was somewhat hampered in fall camp with a hamstring injury, which initially plagued him during the summer and re-emerged at the end of the first week of camp.
“I mean, you’re getting all ready and all hyped up and stuff and ready to go, and just something little kind of pops up,” Overstreet said. “It’s kind of annoying, but I’ve just got to be patient. I’ve been patient. There’s been a lot worse things that have happened, and just being patient through this little thing, I’ll be fine.”
When healthy, though, Overstreet has been performing at a higher level than he did as a true freshman, when he ran for 84 yards and a touchdown.
“We were really pleased with Kellen’s movement (before the injury),” head coach Craig Bohl said. “We track a lot of things with GPS chips. It’s kind of some high-tech information that we have, but his player load and his acceleration were better than they were when he was a freshman. So sometimes as a coach you say, ‘Well, that guy’s moving better,’ and in fact the data showed that.”
Said Overstreet: “I feel strong. I feel fast. When I’m healthy, I feel like I’m just as healthy as I’ve ever been, like they said. So it’s pretty exciting to know that I’m hitting even better than what I was. So that’s really exciting. And then being 20 pounds heavier than when I came in, that’s been something that’s really been positive.
“… I don’t really try and worry about (the data) too much, but if they come up and tell me something like that then, hey, I’m excited about it a little bit.”
Hall, Evans and Overstreet are expected to function as more of a platoon than the Cowboys’ backfield did the previous two seasons, when Brian Hill shouldered the majority of the load. Hill went on to become Wyoming’s leading all-time and single-season rusher and was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the spring. Though he leaves a significant hole in Wyoming’s offense, his presence remains.
“The one thing that Brian’s going to leave, and I really believe that that’s going to have a lasting (effect) as long as we continue to emphasize it — especially from the running back room — is that his love for football and the way that he just attacked the day-to-day football aspect was unbelievable,” running backs coach Mike Bath said. “He loved football, and the way that he prepared, the way that he practiced — I mean, you’ve seen him practice. He practiced so hard. That elevated the height in a sense of this is what the standard is in this room, on this football team. And I think he had a huge positive impact on all those guys.”
Hall and Evans were especially close to Hill. They haven’t forgotten the lessons he taught them.
“Be physical,” Evans said of what he learned from Hill. “Hit dudes. Hit dudes. Hit dudes. And don’t take nothing from nobody. That’s kind of how he was and how we as a running back group strive to be. Now that he’s gone, we hope to continue that physicality and go out there and be some dogs.”
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com