Welcome week three and part elevent of our twelve-part series to kick off the recruiting season. The aim of these articles are to provide a detailed look at what each team has done thus far on the recruiting trail, what to expect come December 20th, and what work still needs to be put in before NLI day in February.
Colorado State: 2nd in the MWConnection Recruiting Rankings
The Rams came into this season with big expectations. The buzz from many was this was their year to win the mountain division and perhaps the conference. Unfortunately, they ended up not being able to live up to their own hype, although they did turn in a solid season. After a great opening win against Oregon State, they lost to in-state rival Colorado, only able to muster a field goal. A win over Abilene Christian was followed by a trouncing against the Crimson Tide and they entered conference play 2-2. They got hot, pulling off 4 straight wins, although 3 of 4 were in close fashion. Then the wheels came off and they dropped 3 straight; losing to Air Force, a nail-biter to Wyoming and then the OT thriller against Boise State, which killed their final hope of going to the championship game. They ended the regular season by beating up on SJSU, but then lost a close bowl game to Marshall.
The CSU offense is extremely balanced in terms of run and pass focus. While they normally employ a 3 WR, 1 RB set. there are times they throw a fullback in and run more of the I-formation packages. Over the past few years (and especially this one), their offenses have been at their best with above-average QB play, a very good consistent running back threat and a fantastic, well-rounded wide-receiver.
On the defensive side of the ball, it appears to be a somewhat of a hybrid scheme between a 4-3 and 3-4. The main tweak here seems to be the RDE is versatile enough to drop back as a LB in coverage when needed, in addition his pass-rushing and run-contain responsibilities. That position would look for a bit lighter, speedier player as opposed to the other side of the line. The other positions would be assumed to have the same assignments as a traditional 4-3 scheme, which has been covered in previous posts.
The Road So Far:
The Rams have done a great recruiting job at this point for their 2018 class. While some of that can be attributed to their large class size (17 at the time of this article), just as much needs to be credited to the players they brought in. They also put together most of their class early, with 14 commits coming before November.
Offensively, they have two good looking OL commits in 6’7 Spencer Lovell and 6’5 Florian McCann. Building for the future in the trenches is smart, and along with a pair of TEs named Gary Williams and Trey McBride (who should play early), they are doing good work on the inside of the offense. Shifting to the outside is prized commit Jammal Houston. He is one of the top 3 commits in all of the Mountain West and will continue their long line game-changing WRs they seem to have a knack for getting. WR A’jon Vivens will provide a nice compliment on the other side of the line.
The defense is the strength of this class, with 11 of their commits coming on this side of the ball (12 if counting scholarship LS Ross Reiter). It’s pretty balanced as well. They are restocking the DL with 5 verbal pledges, 4 of those coming at either DE position. Troy Golden and Brandon Derrow look like they will fit nicely in the hybrid DE/LB position, while Damion Dickens and Jan Phillip-Bombek will do the same at the traditional DE spot. Damion Dailey will man the interior of the DL, but will benefit from a redshirt year to add weight. The Rams will also bring in a very nice pair of LBs commits: Zach Schlager is smaller and more mobile while Rushton Roberts brings nice size and a bigger frame. The secondary also boosts lots of talent. ATH Teja Young should make a nice athletic corner down the line and on the other side, Nick Martin-Morman will provide a polished presence in coverage. At safety, Quinn Brinnon appears to be a classic hard-hitting in the box safety and Tywan Francis will balance him out as someone who can play in coverage more.
Number Expected to Sign in December: There have been 4 players who have confirmed they will sign next week.
Number Expected to Enroll Early: At this time, none of the recruits who responded stated they will enroll early.
Top Targets Remaining:
OL Jacob South, LB Dequan Jackson, LB Chris Fatilua, RB Rome Weber, QB Riley Smith
The Road Ahead:
The Rams have put together a very good, balanced class here. There is talent in every position and it’s not too far of a reach to see many players contributing within two seasons, with 2-3 having a chance to do so next fall. There aren’t many holes in this class, with the only gaps at this time being at quarterback and running back. Although they could use another linebacker and offensive lineman and based on recent visits, seem to be targeting those spots.
The best case scenario here would obviously be to hit on all four of those spots before February. Oddly, the only QB recruit who is uncommitted and holds a CSU offer is Riley Smith, but it doesn’t seem like they are recruiting him hard. This could mean a few things: 1) They aren’t looking at a QB this class, which wouldn’t make sense or 2) The staff is recruiting Smith or another QB more than is being picked up on by the major recruiting sites. Rome Weber is a new offer and points to the emphasis they are placing on that position. They had South, Fatilua and Jackson for visits recently and both of them would finish those positions off nicely.
Priority should be placed in this order: RB, QB, OL, LB. Although it is probably easier at this point to land the latter two, the former are arguably more important positions and are positions without commits currently. Overall, this class is mostly there in terms of being complete and just a few more players will solidify it as the second best class in the conference.
Up Tomorrow: Boise State