As new University of Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl — fresh from winning three consecutive Football Championship Subdivision national championships at North Dakota State — conversed on the phone this week, he was on the recruiting trail in Missouri.

But Bohl already had spent time checking in with Colorado high schools and prospects, and expects to make that one of his program's key strategies. It's not a new concept for Wyoming coaches, but a re-emphasis. After the firing of Dave Christensen at the end of his fifth season, and the hiring of Bohl, the Cowboys' offseason roster lists 20 players from Colorado.

"We will double down on Colorado," Bohl said. "I've already made the rounds at many of the high schools last week. But that's going to be the heart and soul of Wyoming recruiting because of the proximity to Laramie, the number of alums we have there and the quality of football players that are in the Denver and Colorado area."

Bohl, 55, was introduced as Christensen's successor Dec. 13 but remained at North Dakota State until the Bison won their third consecutive FCS title with a 35-7 rout of Towson on Jan. 4.

"It was great to close that out on a high note and move on to other opportunities," Bohl said.

The bad news was quarterback Brett Smith's decision not to return for his senior season and instead declare himself eligible for the NFL draft.

"We certainly explained to him where we felt he would benefit from another year of maturity and size and strength," Bohl said. "Brett was very upfront. He felt like if he was going to receive a certain amount of information, that he was going to go ahead and declare. He got his information, and he declared. One thing I learned a long time ago: You really are concerned with the guys you're coaching right now. Once Brett made that decision, we moved forward."

A Lincoln native, Bohl was a reserve defensive back at Nebraska, playing under Tom Osborne. Later, Bohl returned as defensive backs coach under Osborne and was defensive coordinator under Frank Solich. In 2003, he took over the North Dakota State program as it was about to move from Division II to the FCS level, and the Bison became dominant. They were 4-0 playing up another classification against FBS teams the past four seasons, beating Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State and Kansas State.

Despite some similarities in settings and atmosphere between Fargo. N.D., and Laramie, the challenge at Wyoming is that the Cowboys are playing at the 85-scholarship level. The blue-collar emphasis — and it would be a mistake to get carried away there, since the Bison ran the West Coast offense, not the full-house T — remains, but has to be tweaked.

"The vision for success is there at Wyoming and had been there under Paul Roach and Joe Tiller, and it's very similar to the model that we had established at North Dakota State and prior to that was established by Tom Osborne at Nebraska," Bohl said. "We will be a hard-nosed, physical, disciplined football team and we're going to attract guys from our region first. Then we'll look into outlying areas.

"Blue-collar does not mean that you're not going to throw the ball some. But we'll control the line of scrimmage and have a complicated running game, ground attack, mixed in with dropback and play-action pass. The last three years at North Dakota State, we were No. 1 in the country in scoring defense at the FCS level."