LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — It comes as no surprise that Tyler Hall is filling in for a graduated starter on Wyoming's defense this spring. Last year, Hall was essentially a starter himself, playing in Wyoming's rotation of three cornerbacks, two of which were seniors.

But cornerback is not where Hall is spending his spring. Instead, the Cowboys have shifted him to nickel back, where senior Jalen Ortiz started in 2017.

"I love T.," Wyoming cornerbacks coach John Richardson said. "I didn't want to give him up. No, moving T. — of course for any coach, when you lose a guy that's played a significant amount for you, it's always going to hurt — but it was (for) the betterment of our defense and to be more explosive."

Hall has been in favor of the move.

"It's been fun, most definitely," he said. "It's been very fun, just the fact that I'm more active, more so, around the ball. Right now, I'm just more so wanting to learn running fits, because I kind of did it last year, but I was more in passing situations. But as of right now, it's more so me just dialing in run fits and trying to get that together. Then I should be good."

Head coach Craig Bohl said the position change has been "outstanding."

"I think he's got a bright, bright future there," Bohl said of Hall.

While Hall, who will continue to return kickoffs for Wyoming, played well enough at cornerback last season to make the move somewhat of a surprise, his reputation as a hard hitter makes it less so.

"Tyler could have played corner, nickel, he could play safety," cornerback Antonio Hull told the Casper Star-Tribune. "He's athletic. Whatever they want to do with Tyler, he's going to excel in it.

"... (He's) Physical. Definitely not scared to get his nose in there. Makes great tackles. You saw it last year at corner. Physical guy and not scared to put his nose in there, lever, nothing like that."

Hall added some muscle in the offseason and is now around 193 pounds, but he said he made sure not to lose his speed.

"Of course being physical always plays a big factor in that, because you're closest to the box," Richardson said. "You've got to tackle some running backs. But just his athletic ability and the way he goes about playing out there. He plays extremely hard, and he finishes, and he's able to force fumbles and things like that. So, of course a guy who can force a lot of fumbles, you want him closer to the box so you can make more forced fumbles.

"Athletically, but also mentally, that's what's special about Tyler. He can handle playing multiple positions mentally at one time. But then also, too, he's got a fire about him. I say he's got little man syndrome. That's kind of how he is out there. He has little man syndrome, so he plays bigger than what he actually is."

Hall said he had played a little bit of nickel back in seven-on-seven camps, but he was mainly a cornerback in high school. He spent his last two years there, too, but his new position allows him to do what he enjoys most.

"I'd say I'm a very aggressive guy, so being at that spot, being around the ball more, seeing running backs, doing blitzes, it allows me to do what I like," he said. "It's kind of like a double (blessing). I get to cover and blitz. So, it's love. All love."

However, one side effect is that the Pokes now have no returning starting cornerbacks from 2017. Hull started in 2016 but was a medical redshirt last year.

"Of course, we feel like those guys are going to be able to come along for us and really do some things out there," Richardson said of his cornerback group, "but make no mistake: Tyler is really good. So he's going to be a dynamic guy on our defense. He's going to shore some things up on the inside, but C.J. (Coldon), Keyon (Blankenbaker) and Sidney (Washington Jr.), they're going to have to come along and fill some big shoes.

"Because (Hall) played a ton for us last year and showed up a lot. They've got to keep coming along. They're not there yet, but it's time to bring them along."

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