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updated: 3/21/2018 11:41 AM

Smith, Vander Waal vying for starting Wyoming QB job

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LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Nick Smith was part of a quarterback competition in Spring 2016. He and Josh Allen, both of whom had played in a backup role for Wyoming the year before, battled for the starting quarterback spot in spring camp.

Smith lost that battle, something that probably stings a little less in hindsight, considering Allen is now a potential top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

"It's a testament, I think, to the player Josh is," Smith said, "and how hopefully we pushed each other enough to where I hope I made him better. He definitely made me better. It's somebody that I can kind of still look up to to see what it takes. He kind of set the bar high, so it's our job to kind of rise to that level."

Now, Smith is getting another shot. He and Tyler Vander Waal, Wyoming's only other scholarship quarterback currently on campus, will seek to earn the job of replacing Allen. Head coach Craig Bohl said the Cowboys plan to name a starter at the end of spring camp.

Smith has the edge of having seen the field already. The senior has played in 12 collegiate games and started four.

"I think it helps, just me personally, just understanding what to expect and what the game is like going out there and how you have to practice," he said. "So I think knowing that, the game experience, and trying to bring that to practice is something that I've learned over the years. The intensity and the speed of what it takes to be able to make some plays in the game."

But while the experience he got in relief of an injured Allen last season is a positive, it's not as much of one as he might like. The Cowboys lost both of his starts.

"While Nick's played some, it's certainly not a body of work that's warranted saying, 'OK, you're the ordained starter,'" Bohl said after the Cowboys' first spring practice Tuesday.

While Vander Waal, a Ball State decommit, didn't play in 2017, he still felt like he earned valuable experience as Wyoming's scout team quarterback.

"Because our defense last year was top of the Mountain West, most turnovers in the nation, you can go on and on," he told the Casper Star-Tribune. "But just seeing those guys, it really doesn't get better than that. If I can compete out there with those guys, I can compete against anyone in the Mountain West."

Smith said the competition would be an amicable one.

"Me and Tyler are good friends," he said. "We're learning together, and obviously there's a big age difference. So for me, Tyler's got way more years down the road. So if I can help him out and help this team out - because I've only got a year left, so if anything I can help him out for the future - I think that's something that can be beneficial coming out of this spring, too."

Vander Waal echoed that sentiment.

"Worst comes to worst, I'm the backup to Nick, and I still have three years to play after he leaves," he said. "So, I'm in a great situation right now with whatever happens."

So, with Smith entering his final season, does that put more pressure on him to win his second quarterback competition?

"I try not to think about just the pressure and stuff," he said. "For me, it's my senior year. I'm going to do whatever I can and whatever happens, I'm going to try to do my best and compete. And absolutely, I want to win the job with every bit that I have.

"But I'm trying to enjoy the moment, and I don't want to let that pressure ruin the experience and ruin what I have with my teammates. So, I think yeah, there's going to be a little bit of a balance there."

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

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