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Wyoming back uses mentality to fuel success - Gillette News Record: Sports

Wyoming back uses mentality to fuel success

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Posted: Tuesday, August 6, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 11:17 am, Tue Nov 5, 2013.

LARAMIE - You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Of course, that statement is meant for Mountain West defenses, not Wyoming fans. Sophomore running back Shaun Wick isn't the largest or the fastest running back you'll see.

When he's operating at top speed, though, he might be the nastiest.

"I just run angry," Wick said. "I tend to run better when I'm mad. If I run with a cool head, I'm a little soft. But if I make myself angry, I'll be that physical back."

For Wick, it's all about mentality. He's at his best when he's putting his shoulder down, set to deliver a blow. Some backs run around defenders, avoiding contact in favor of the sidelines.

Wick isn't that guy. His game isn't pretty, predicated on jukes and spins.

Rather, he sees a hole and he attacks it - along with anything else in his way.

"It's a confidence booster. Instead of the defense hitting you, you give it back to the defense," Wick said with a sly smile. "You can give them a little treat."

This season, the treats should be bountiful. After gaining 350 yards and scoring a position-high four touchdowns in 2012, Wick says that he is a stronger running back heading into fall camp.

Last spring, he was listed at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds. Now, he claims to be 15 pounds heavier, more equipped to get upfield and plow over would-be tacklers.

In other words: the Cowboys' resident wrecking ball will pack even more of a punch.

Compared to last season, Wick will also have a better idea of what he's facing. Few running backs are afforded the luxury of stepping in as a true freshman and immediately leading the team in carries. With 92 touches last season, Wick claimed that title.

Now, with a year of seasoning added to his game, Wick can run out onto the field in a pressure situation and not feel overwhelmed by the moment.

"It gives me so much confidence in the way I play," Wick said. "I just go in there and I feel comfortable with the calls. I can just walk out there. The game got a little slower. I can read the holes easier."

He smiles and shrugs.

"It just feels better."

That's good news for the Cowboys, who recently lost leading rusher D.J. May for the season with a torn triceps. Wick will be competing alongside four other running backs for carries in the Cowboys' backfield.

Among those four backs, Wick is only a sophomore - but he's also a leader.

"I love having Shaun," senior running back Brandon Miller said. "He's a great teammate. He's a great friend. He's a tough runner, and he's a real strong kid. I think he's just going to get better from here."

Wick looks at the Cowboys' crowded stable of backs and he doesn't simply see competition. He sees advantages.

"No one's going to be tired," Wick said. "If one of us is tired, we've got somebody else to go in. We're going to keep the drives alive."

And when the Wyoming offense nears the goal line, you can bet they'll turn to their sophomore wrecking ball.

As for Wick, he knows what this group of running backs is capable of. He also knows that if he stays angry, he has the drive and physicality to lead the way.

"I want to be one of the best running backs in the Mountain West. That's my goal, not just to be the best running back on the team," Wick said. "You've got to set your goals high."

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