In the locker rooms of Nevada Football, the wolf has reigned supreme for years. However, a different breed of animal has begun to emerge from the depths of Mackay. One that identifies with the deep lush jungle instead of the forests of Northern Nevada. The receiving corp at Nevada have given life to this new beast, a collective known as the ‘Jungle Boyz’.
Nevada’s ‘Jungle Boyz’ first arrived on campus in 2017, it originated as a playful nickname between wideouts Kaleb Fossum and Elijah Cooks. Since that time, the brand has expanded to encompass all 13 receivers that occupy space on the Nevada sidelines.
“The Jungle Boyz is our receiving corps,” said Cooks. “Fossum gave us our name when we first got here”.
Fossum, the de facto leader/creator of the group, is heading into his senior season with the Wolf Pack. Last season, he caught 70 passes for just over 730 yards. At the spring game, Fossum racked up 81 yards on six catches, showing that he’s ready to build off his impressive junior campaign.
When Fossum came up with the term ‘Jungle Boyz’, he was trying to think of an all-encompassing nickname that fit the corps. Something that could fit an individual, but made sense in a group setting. He thought that the name was a great representation for them.
“We came up with the Jungle Boyz because we have a lot of different guys who bring a lot of different tools to our offense,” said Fossum. “We have speed demons like cheetahs, like Romeo [Doubs]”.
Doubs is entering his second season with the Wolf Pack. In his freshman campaign, he was the team’s third-leading receiver with just over 560 yards on 43 catches. His speed, as Fossum mentioned, is what makes him a dangerous weapon on offense and special teams. He showcased it last year in the opener against Portland State, returning a punt 80 yards for a touchdown.
The “cheetah” seems to have gotten faster this offseason, showcasing that blazing speed at the spring game. In the scrimmage, near the opening of the third quarter, Doubs zipped past three defenders for the first score of the half.
Doubs isn’t the only player to have an animal persona, Fossum has also assigned a spirit animal to Cooks, as well.
“Then you have bigger tigers in the jungle, like Cookie,” said Fossum. Cookie is Cooks’ nickname, and at 6-foot-4-inches and 215 pounds, he is anything but small.
Cooks excels at using his large frame to create separation downfield. He displayed his physical prowess at the spring game, hauling in two touchdowns after outmaneuvering smaller defensive backs. Following his second touchdown, the big-bodied receiver nearly made the play of the game. Cooks leaped into the air for the go-ahead two-point conversion. He caught the ball but failed to bring his foot down in bounds for the score.
Fossum didn’t reveal any other parallels between players in the corp and their respective animals.
“There’s a lot of different animals in the jungle that do different types of things,” said Fossum.
The group’s nickname started to gain traction from social media. A Twitter account sprang up promoting each member of the squad, showing off highlights from both games and practices. It also helped promote the team’s yearly Spring game.
“We came up with it 2-3 years ago, and we’re just kinda taking off with it,” Fossum said. “We have a Twitter page now, @JungleBoyz_NV. So if you follow that, you’ll see all the new Jungle Boyz.”
For now the “Jungle Boyz” head into the dog days of summer and prep for what will be the final season with the original founders. Cooks hopes to keep the name going and turn it into the next tradition of Nevada football.
“We want it to stick around just like the Union,” said Cooks. The Union is the nickname the offensive linemen have given to themselves as a unit.
The “Jungle Boyz” will live on as long as the young corp of Nevada’s receivers keep the name alive. The responsibility to carry on the tradition falls on six underclassmen that are currently on the roster, including freshmen receivers Red Jones and Melquan Stovall.
Since Stovall and Jones are so new to the program and the corp, the two have yet to be given heir nicknames within the squad. Due to Stovall’s vertically, maybe the young wideout should be the frog of the squad? Prior to committing to Nevada, Stovall recorded a 39.7-inch vertical jump — the average college football player usually has a 29-31 inch vertical.
Throughout spring training, Jones was noted to have taken some moderately big hits but nothing seemed to slow the true freshman down. With his ability to take a licking, and keep on ticking, maybe he should be the wolverine of the group? Wolverines are known for their ability to survive in the cold after all, and that may come in handy with the varied weather that Reno is known to have.
The ‘Jungle Boyz’ will officially return to action on Aug. 30, when Purdue marches into Mackay to kickoff the Wolf Pack Football season.
Ryan Freeberg can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.