Border War

Wyoming running back Xazavian Valladay is hoisted up by his teammates after scoring a touchdown in the Cowboys' Border War win over Colorado State on Nov. 6 at War Memorial Stadium. in Laramie

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Xazavian Valladay is officially looking to move on.

Thanks to the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA during the pandemic, Wyoming’s second all-time leading rusher has the flexibility to enter the NFL draft or see if there is another college opportunity that fits.

Valladay, who graduated from UW earlier this month, became the 10th member of the 2021 Cowboys to enter his name into the NCAA transfer portal.

During his five years with the Pokes, Valladay rushed for 3,274 yards, which only trails Brian Hill (4,287 yards, 2014-16) on UW’s career list.

“I loved coming to Wyoming and had a great career here,” Valladay said before the regular-season finale against Hawaii. “I’m thankful for all the people that paved the way for me. I’m really excited that I got to come across a lot of great people.”

Valladay, the 2019 Arizona Bowl most valuable player, rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown during UW’s 52-38 victory last Tuesday in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. He led the team with 1,070 rushing yards this season.

The Cowboys also lose super senior Trey Smith, who had 73 yards and a touchdown on the blue turf at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho.

UW returns Titus Swen (785 yards, seven touchdowns) and Dawaiian McNeely (113 yards, one touchdown) from this year’s rotation.

Sophomores Jeremy Hollingsworth and Alphonzo Andrews; and freshmen Joseph Braasch, D.Q. James and Jordan Vaughn will also be competing for expanded roles in 2022.

“Nobody has anything to worry about. I truly feel like Wyoming is sort of RBU,” Valladay said. “Those coaches really go out and do a great job of picking up great guys that they believe are not only good guys on the field but off the field. I definitely feel like Wyoming is in good hands.”

UW head coach Craig Bohl and his staff will have to find some more quarterbacks to run the offense.

Both Levi Williams and Sean Chambers are transferring. So is dynamic No. 1 wide receiver Isaiah Neyor, who has a list of offers from Power 5 programs

Cornerbacks Azizi Hearn and C.J. Coldon, strong safety Rome Weber and nickel back Keyon Blankenbaker are the defensive starters in the portal.

Follow UW beat writer Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @By_RyanThorburn

This article originally ran on trib.com.

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