WR Justin Stevenson flashing athleticism during UW's spring practices

Apr. 13—LARAMIE — Like the majority of college football players, Justin Stevenson had to wait his turn during his first year on the University of Wyoming's campus.

The 6-foot-1, 191-pound wide receiver out of Katy, Texas, redshirted during his first season with the Cowboys last fall. But the explosive Stevenson wasn't just sitting on the sidelines watching his teammates. He started taking notes from the wide receivers in front of him.

"I felt like last year really prepped me to just be the guy I am right now," Stevenson told WyoSports on Tuesday. "Last year, I saw a lot of older guys come through, talking about things, and now I've seen a lot of things. I feel like it's my moment now.

"... (This year is) very important. All last year, I was watching guys like Ayir (Asante), Devin Boddie Jr., Alex Brown and Gunner Gentry, and all those guys really prepped me for this moment right now. They were talking to me all the time. They knew I had it, I just had to bring it out."

Bringing it out has been exactly what Stevenson has done so far this spring. His name has been brought up constantly by first-year head coach Jay Sawvel, which is never a bad thing for a young receiver fighting for playing time.

"I'm really, really happy with Justin Stevenson right now," Sawvel said earlier this spring. "In the fall, Justin showed promise on the field and a lot of talent on the field, but didn't take care of his academics the way that we would have wanted him to. That was a big emphasis for me right away. I don't mess around with that part, right?

"So, if it ended now, this guy would be over a 3.3 (grade-point average) right now for the semester. I'm so proud of the guy. I'm happy with him."

On top of getting his head right in the classroom, Stevenson has also been building his body to maximize his athleticism this offseason.

"He's worked his butt off in the weight room," Sawvel said. "He kind of tweaked an ankle the other day, so, at times, you can see it bothering him a little bit, but he's still practicing, and he's still doing everything.

"He has a really, really high ceiling because he runs very, very well, he works very hard, and he shows up on no (academic) list for me now. That's why I love the kid to death. I had a good talk with him about a week ago just about, 'Hey, I'm really, really proud of what you're doing right now.' I think he can make an impact for us, so I'm excited for him."

Stevenson was a three-star recruit out of high school, catching 37 passes for 552 yards and five touchdowns during his two years as a varsity starter. He also returned kicks for Paetow High, taking a 71-yard return to the house as a senior.

Stevenson was also recruited by Hawaii, Illinois State and Incarnate Word, but chose the Cowboys shortly after his official recruiting visit.

"When I first came up here on a visit, I saw the facilities, and I was like, 'Sheesh, this is crazy,'" Stevenson said. "I didn't really have a lot of (Football Bowl Subdivision) offers coming out of high school, so this was really the one school I wanted to go to, and I knew that as soon as I saw it."

Stevenson made a handful of big plays during UW's open practice last weekend, and he'll have another opportunity to showcase his talents during the Cowboys' second open practice today. UW's ninth spring practice will start with stretches at 10:15 a.m., followed by a full-on scrimmage at War Memorial Stadium.

Still just a redshirt freshman, Stevenson wants the momentum he's built this spring to carry over into fall camp before eventually helping the Cowboys win games this season.

"I want to just keep my head down and keep grinding," Stevenson said. "I said I was worried about the depth chart, but I'm really not worried about the depth chart. I'm just worried about getting better every day.

"... Every time I go out there, I have to know what I'm doing, know my assignment and, whenever the ball is in the air, just make a play. That's what it comes down to."

UW's annual spring game will be held at 1 p.m. April 27 at Cheyenne East's Okie Blanchard Stadium due to the renovation project at War Memorial Stadium. The spring game is free and open to the public.

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.