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Monday, August 30, 2010

Juco transfers will have to wait to make impact

By ERIC SCHMOLDT - Star-Tribune staff writer | Posted: Monday, August 30, 2010 12:00 am

Kurt Taufa'asau and B.J. Sumter admit they aren't quite ready for the season opener yet.
The pair of junior college transfers were seemingly recruited to Wyoming to help play an immediate role at defensive tackle in the Cowboys' new 4-3 defensive scheme.
But with just a few weeks of fall camp to acclimated to Division I football, Taufa'asau and Sumter will likely have to wait a little longer.
"We're just trying to get used to the altitude and the speed of the game," Taufa'asau said this past week. "In Division I football, the game tempo is way different from junior college, where we were, so we're still trying to get used to it for our first game.
"We're getting closer."
Taufa'asau, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound junior from American Samoa, is expected to be listed as a second-string tackle when the depth chart is released this afternoon.
Sumter, listed as 6-foot-1 and 310 pounds, likely won't be on it, unless they list the position three deep.
"They've come a long ways," UW defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery said. "They're both working hard and doing the right things. B.J.'s a kid that we want to get his weight down a little bit and when he gets that I think he's going to get better off. Kurt's just still understanding the defense a little bit.
"But they're both good kids and they're going to help us out big-time."
While they might not be completely up to speed yet, the fact that they're in Laramie together has certainly aided their progress.
While still at New Mexico Military Institute, the two took separate visits before deciding they would like to transition to the Division I level together at UW.
"It's been good to have somebody you know who's real close to you," Sumter said. "It makes it a lot easier, the transition."
The fact that they would be competing for playing time right away helped make that decision as well.
The 4-3 scheme meant the Pokes needed more defensive tackles, especially because mainstay Fred Givens was a senior last season.
"On the recruiting trip, they told us we had a good chance to come in and compete for a starting spot," Taufa'asau said.
That opportunity was magnified when UW lost Alex Stover, whose career is over after a recurring groin injury.
"He practiced the first three or four days and had me pretty excited," Montgomery said. "Then it was just like, 'OK, I've gotta get another guy ready."
Sophomore Mike Purcell and redshirt freshman Patrick Mertens have a solid hold on the top spots heading into the season.
Ben Durbin and Taufa'asau will likely be the first two into the rotation behind them.
"Over the summer and during the fall camp, we have been competing our [butts] off," Taufa'asau said. "We're getting there, but we're still not quite there yet.
"But oh yeah [we'll contribute this season]. That's what we're for. They didn't bring us here for nothing."

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