Durr, Jones and LaFramboise come up big in Cowboys' spring game

Apr. 25—LARAMIE — The University of Wyoming's defense was the story of last year's spring game.

That wasn't the case Thursday afternoon at War Memorial Stadium.

While the Cowboys' defense showcased plenty of big-play ability, it was the team's offense flexing its muscles during the team's annual Brown and Gold scrimmage.

The teams combined for 645 yards of total offense, including 513 through the air. True freshman Chris Durr — who won't graduate high school officially until this summer — hauled in 12 catches for 121 yards during his first college spring game.

"He is a player," UW starting quarterback Evan Svoboda said. "He's supposed to be in high school still. For such a young guy to come in and really showcase his abilities, I think it's super impressive.

"You saw it today: His catching ability, the late hands, his versatility, the juke moves, all of that. He's a young kid, but he's going to be something truly special."

Gold team quarterbacks Jayden Clemons and Kaden Anderson combined for 32 completions during the spring game, and Durr accounted for nearly 38% of them.

First year head coach Jay Sawvel has no doubt Durr can make an immediate impact for the Cowboys if he continues making progress during the off-time this summer.

"He's got really, really, really good ball skills. It's natural, and the ball just kind of naturally absorbs into his hands really well," Sawvel said. "I told him he's going to tell me how ready he is to play when he goes home next weekend and comes back three weeks later based on what his weight is at and those types of things.

"... On the field, he's ready to play. We need to get another 8-10 pounds on him in the summer, but he's a really great young man who has a great attitude and is really enjoying Wyoming. He loves being here."

Jones' big day

Durr wasn't the only UW newcomer to flash his skills during his first spring game in Laramie.

North Carolina graduate transfer D.J. Jones led all rushers with 77 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries Thursday. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry with a long of 13.

Jones switched to safety last season with the Tar Heels after spending his first three college seasons at running back. He entered the transfer portal in search of a home at his original position.

He found that home in Laramie.

"It's natural for me," Jones said. "So, it's good to be back in the backfield."

Sawvel didn't hesitate when asked about his impression of Jones following the spring game.

"Everything," Sawvel said about what he liked about Jones' performance. "... We gave him a lot more of a run at running back because we needed to see him — he needed to play live and he needed to hit holes and he needed to make cuts and he needed to do some of those things.

"He did it pretty well, I thought. So, big fan of him."

Jones' big day also caught the attention of Svoboda, who was in the backfield with him on the Brown team.

"D.J. is, by far, the hardest worker I know," Svoboda said. "He's always in here, day in and day out, studying film and is the last one in the weight room and last one on the field.

"He's just a great guy all around and he's super smart, which is something that guys probably don't see in him. He's a great player, a great guy, and he's going to be a heck of a player for us."

Big catch

Thunder Basin graduate Kayden LaFramboise redshirted during his first season with the Cowboys last fall. He heard his name called on the speakers at the War during the spring game after hauling in a 37-yard touchdown pass from Svoboda in the fourth quarter.

The touchdown ended up being the game-winner, as the Brown team held on for a 17-10 win.

"The great thing with that: Two weeks ago when we had that open scrimmage, he didn't play very well," Sawvel said. "I kind of had a higher expectation of some things. I brought him in, and he and I kind of talked about some stuff that we could clean up or that he do better.

"His last couple weeks of practice have been really good, and with his size and everything else, I have an expectation for him. He's a guy that, there's no doubt, I can envision being a guy that can play for us at some point in the future.

"So much of it's attitude, right? When people have a positive image of themselves and a positive image of what they're doing, they improve. That's the biggest piece to it."

Sawvel wasn't just impressed with LaFramboise's catch during the play. LaFramboise ran an out-cut, beating his man just in time to see the ball coming his way on a rope from Svoboda.

"It was a good ball," Sawvel said with a smile. "... That was a ball right there. That's all I can say."

Alex Taylor is the assistant editor for WyoSports and covers University of Wyoming athletics. He can be reached at Follow him on X at @alex_m_taylor22.