The Colorado St. Rams have had an exciting offseason, full of arrests, transfers and stadium debates. Their roster has seen quite a bit of change on both sides of the ball. When Jim McElwain was hired as the coach of the CSU Rams there was great hope and energy around the program.
Then the trio of Nordly Capi, Colton Paulhus and Mike Orakpo were arrested and subsequently dismissed from the team after seriously assaulting other Colorado State students. Before that, quarterback Pete Thomas had asked for, and was granted, his release from the team and transferred to N.C. State. CSU continued to lose players, like Drew Reilly who left to play at BYU, and it looked like the great potential of the Jim McElwain era was beginning to wane.
Since then the Rams have picked up some transfers, like Lawrence Lehauli at defensive tackle and Jasen Oden at Defensive Back, there is some hope that the losses of the Capi, Paulhus and Orakpo will be mitigated. After the departure of Pete Thomas the starting quarterback job has gone to Garrett Grayson.
There is speculation that Grayson's development helped push Thomas out the door, but at 6-foot-2, 215-pounds the second year Ram quarterback is expected to be a presence. The offense is anchored by running back Chris Nwoke, a 6-foot, 213-pound running back out of Highlands Ranch, Colo.
Lee Clubb is a 5-foot-10, 180-pound receiver out of Iowa Park, Texas is looking like a standout receiver for Grayson, but Crocket Gillmore at tight end and Lou Greenwood will also return with senior Dominique Vinson which gives Grayson some options. Not to be overlooked at center is Weston Richburg, a finalist for the Rimington Trophy (top center) and is also on the watch list for the Outland trophy (top linemen).
The problem with the CSU Rams last year was the defense, and with the personnel loses on that side of the ball, one would say it is probably in worse shape than before. However Shaquil Barrett and James Skelton return to solidify the line backing corps, being first and second on the team respectively in total tackles. The transfers of Lehauli and Oden, along with several others will be needed in a defense lacking in some depth.
The Rams have, if nothing else, gained a bit of presence under McElwain's guidance. The first time head coach with two national championship rings on his fingers likes what he sees, but there are still some question marks. Jared Roberts, a walk on kicker, was granted a scholarship and made three field goals at the final scrimmage.
Adding to the pressure of Colorado State's football season, as a shot at redemption, is the discussion about their new on-campus stadium stadium. Many at Colorado State feel that they need a new stadium and a whole new direction in order to remain relevant in Division I football. CSU has faced 3 losing seasons in a row after winning the New Mexico Bowl in 2008.
There are those in the stadium opposition group, who claim that Colorado State needs to build a winning team first and stay at Hughes Stadium. With that said, CSU will need to look a great deal improved over the previous three seasons in order to garner more supporters for the proposed $246 million on campus stadium.
This season will be an exciting time to be a RAM fan as the Rams will be sporting new uniforms in the last year of the Russell contract and bringing a whole new attitude to the field. There is speculation as to the new official outfitter as McElwain is rumored to favor Nike, while new head basketball coach Larry Eustachy is said to be a fan of Addidas. With the addition of a new Under Armor/Gear/Champion store in the Colorado State bookstore last year, its anyone's guess. The Rams have dropped ticket prices by 12 percent for this season and are pushing sales of the season opener, the Rocky Mountain Showdown, in Denver.
There are still some questions with the 2012 Ram football team, which has faced a decent amount of adversity in the off season. However, with a new coach and a new outlook on the game, McElwain has them going in the right direction and Ram fans are excited to see the new look Rams this year.