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2022 Recruiting Breakdown: Colorado State

A class led by a star, with many familiar pieces

NCAA Football: Nevada at Colorado State Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the fourth post in our twelve-part recruiting breakdown series. Today will look at the #4 team in our rankings, Colorado State.

The Rams completely overhauled their class in December once Coach Jay Norvell took over. While this is usually a deterrent, Norvell and his staff hit the ground running by bringing over many members of his former class at Nevada. They also were aided by the transfer portal, as the core of his transfers in this class are former Nevada players. They know the system and are expected to play right away. On top of this, the staff was also aggressive on the recruiting trail, flipping a few key prospects who make up the top players in this class. It’s a balance class, with top-end talent and familiar names from those who followed both Nevada’s 2021 roster and their recruiting efforts this past cycle. To learn more about it, read below.

The Skinny:

  • 28 players signed
  • 12 high school players, 1 JUCO player, 15 transfers
  • 19 offensive, 9 defensive
  • 1 four-star, 11 three-stars per 247 Composite rankings.
  • 2 players with a composite rating of 85 or higher
  • 8 players with a composite rating of 82 or higher
  • Breakdown by state: 8 California, 2 Colorado, 1 Georgia, 1 Louisiana, 1 Texas
  • 247 Composite Rankings

- Overall: 81st

- Recruiting: 86th

- Transfer: 48th

The Players:

QB Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi

Brayden comes into this class as one of the quarterbacks. He is an extremely accurate passer, especially on the run when avoiding pressure. Fowler-Nicolosi had a big arm and displays nice touch on the deep balls. He goes through his progressions efficiently and seems to excel in a wide-open style of a passing offense. Brayden should transition well into the air-raid system and has a chance to emerge as the starter when given the opportunity.

QB Jackson Stratton

Jackson is another quarterback in this class for the Rams. He has a prototypical QB frame and a cannon for an arm. Stratton has the ability to sling passes all over the field with nice touch and is able to hit receivers on the run. He evades pressure well and can pick up yards when scrambling. It is easy to see how Jackson fits in to the Norvell offense with his strong passing ability.

Transfer QB Clay Millen

Clay is arguably the best recruit in the Mountain West, easily the best recruit coming to Nevada, and probably the best recruit in the Norvell era. He’s incredibly mobile in the pocket, making him difficult to tackle, and he can extend plays with his legs. Millen has a cannon for an arm, displays great touch on his deep passes, and is extremely accurate. He isn’t afraid to staying in the pocket and taking a hit, he steps into his throws and adjusts his passes based on need. Clay is talented enough to play right away and may see some time next year even though he will be backing up Carson Strong.

Transfer RB Avery Morrow

Avery is a good fit for Nevada in quite a different ways. His film shows that he is used to running without extra blockers, which bodes well in the air-raid system. Morrow also catches well out of the backfield, another crucial element to the system. He has good size but is agile and shifty enough to make players miss. Avery will benefit from a redshirt year but should be able to contribute before too long.

WR Ky Oday

Ky is one of the wide receivers in this class. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands in the open field because of his shifty he can be. Oday possesses great hands and beats defenders with little issue after his initial move. He has good straight-line speed and his route-running gives him an advantage. Ky looks like he will be a great fit as a slot-receiver in the Ram offense.

WR Mekhi Fox

Mekhi is one of the best players in the recruiting cycle for this entire conference. He glides down the field effortlessly with his long strides and is capable of changing direction quickly as well. Fox is a big deep-play threat with his size and speed but is also effective in the short game or passes to the flat, making him an all-around receiver. He has great vision of the field which complements his physical abilities and allows him to turn short passes into big plays. Mekhi will play right away and has the potential to be an impact receiver from day one.

WR Justus Ross-Simmons

Justus is a wide receiver with great size, making him an instant matchup problem on the outside. He is very difficult to bring down with just one player or on the first attempt, which means he piles up the yards after the catch. Ross-Simmons is almost a sure thing to come down with a catch on a 50/50 ball due to his height, but may be at his best getting the ball in space and bouncing off tackles. He is an unselfish player who also made an impact on the defensive side of the ball. Justus has a good chance to play right away but it won’t be long until he makes an impact on the field.

WR Louis Brown

Louis is another wide receiver in this class. He is extremely fast and goes hard as soon as the ball is snapped, not allowing defenders much time to react. Brown is a true deep-threat who is at his best making one move and then running full speed to get behind the secondary. He tracks the ball well in the air and shows the ability to adjust to the placement of the ball and still make the catch. Louis seems to be able to play on the outside or in the slot and his versatility should serve him well in this offense.

Transfer WR Melquan Stovall

Melquan Stovall is a great fit in this offense. His size and speed make him ideal for an inside slot receiver and it’s easy to see how he can put up big numbers in this offense and become a favorite target in years to come. Stovall is a good route-runner and can do damage in both short and longer routes. He is at his best getting the ball in stride where he can rack up yards after the catch running at full speed. Melquan could be a factor in the return game and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he found a role as soon as next season.

Transfer WR Tory Horton

Tory is a long, athletic wide receiver who should fit in well on the outside in the air-raid. He is a home run threat every time he touches the ball in thanks to his big frame, long quick strides and being tough to tackle. Horton has great vision in the open field and is also great on fade routes in the end-zone where he can use his height advantage. Even more so, he can be a factor in the return game. Tory has the ability to develop into an all-conference caliber starter for the Wolf Pack before his career is over.

TE Jordan Williams

Jordan is the high school tight end for Colorado State. He was athletic enough to play all over the field in high school and run routes smoothly, looking just like a receiver. Williams changes directions with relative ease and can find another gear once he gets some open field to run in. He can line up on the inside or outside and is definitely a player the defense have to scheme against. Jordan looks like an ideal fit at tight end in this offense and should put up big numbers over his career.

Transfer TE Peter Montini

Peter was quite a productive running back in high school but also has value as a linebacker. He has good vision, changes directions easily, and has great speed, all of which he can carry over to either side of the ball. Montini plays hard and his versatility is his best assest. He isn’t afraid of contact and could be a big blocker for in the run game once he gets used to the playbook. That transition will be smoother by taking a redshirt year to focus on learning whatever side of the ball he plays on at the college level.

OL Aaron Karas

Aaron will be an offensive lineman in college. He can get off the line in a hurry and sometimes even gets up the field a few yards to block in the second level on run plays. Karas can lay multiple blocks on one play because he plays through the whistle and is actively looking for someone to hit to help his teammates. He moves his feet well and squares up on defenders to ensure he has the advantage. Aaron played tackle in high school and should continue there going forward.

OL Aubrey Scott

Aubrey comes to the Rams to play offensive line after being on both sides of the ball in high school. He is pretty mobile after the snap, which allows him to keep up with the speed of defensive ends and neutralize their speed. Scott is equally skilled in both run blocking and pass protection due to his technique and physical nature when blocking. He has a good understanding of what to do each play and executes well. Aubrey is a tackle but could be effective as a guard as well.

Transfer OL Jacob Gardner

Jacob is another offensive linemen coming to Nevada in this class, a clear point of emphasis for them. He is a physical presence who explodes into blocks after the snap and plays through the whistle. Gardner was athletic enough to play both ways in high school and moves with agility and nice footwork. He can buy time to extend plays thanks to his steady blocking. Jacob plays mostly tackle in his tape but could slide over to a guard spot if he adds weight thanks to his frame.

Transfer OL Trevyn Heil

Trevyn played primarily in high school but he will be on offense for the Wolf Pack. His tape shows a number of traits and skills that can carry over to the other side of the ball. Heil is quick off the snap and relentless in making an impact play. He is athletic and mobile, with good footwork and proper hand placement. Trevyn will need time to learn the ins and outs of a new position at a higher level but figures to make an impact.

Transfer OL Gray Davis

Gray comes in as a transfer to provide experience on the offensive line. He is a menacing blocker, using his lower body to drive defenders backward. Davis doesn’t let defenders get away from him and opens up big holes in the run game. He is at his best pancaking defensive linemen when the team is running the ball. Gray should be able to find a role instantly next year.

Transfer OL Dontae Keys

Dontae is another offensive line transfer. He is great in the run game, finding someone to block instantly and laying a punishing hit to take the defender out of the play. Keys gets off the snap quickly and is able to keep pace with pass rushers to neutralize them. He has good footwork and moves well laterally for someone his size. Dontae will add a veteran presence to the Rams offensive line going into next season.

Transfer OL Dante Bivens

Dante is another player brought in to bolster the offensive line. He is a physical lineman who opens up huge holes in the run game with his size and strength. Bivens is a key blocker on run plays and running backs are able to get behind him to run for huge gains. He is lighter on his feet than expected and mobile in addition to being physical. Dante should be a definite asset to the Rams next season.

DL Nuer Gatkuoth

Nuer is originally from Canada but played football at a prep school in Georgia last year. He has explosive speed and simply runs past offensive linemen who are too slow to block him. Gatkuoth has an exceptional knack for getting to the quarterback and can also drop back in coverage as a linebacker. He is a hard hitter and the type of player who is always around the ball to make plays. Noah is still raw but is high on potential and could turn into quite the college player.

Transfer DL Teivis Tuioti

Teivis is a tenacious defender in the middle of the d-line. He is athletic and nimble in getting past blockers to wreck havoc in the backfield. Tuioti is quite the force of nature when he makes contact for a tackle, using his full strength to deliver the hit. He relies heavily on a swim move to get into the backfield and while effective, he would benefit from the development of other moves. Teivis has experience in the system from his time at Nevada and should bolster the depth at defensive line right away.

Transfer DE CJ Onyechi

CJ came to Colorado State by way of Rutgers. He is an all-around athlete who played multiple positions on both sides of the field in high school. Onyechi is a high energy player who gets after the quarterback and seemingly reaches full speed as soon as the ball is snapped. He also has the strength to push off blocks and run through offensive linemen. CJ is full of talent and will have opportunities to showcase that in college.

LB Marshon Oxley

Marshon is a talented linebacker entering the fold. He is a dynamic pass rusher with a high motor who doesn’t give up on plays. Oxley beats offense tackles easily do to his burst of speed and length, allowing him to get into the backfield consistently. He can also drop back into coverage when needed and hold his own in that regard. Marshon has a ton of potential and it won’t be long before translates that to the field.

DB Corey Lambert

Corey is a defensive back coming to play for the Rams. He tracks plays well and is equally effective in defending the run or the pass. Lambert is a big asset as a tackler in the box and doesn’t let running backs break free. As a deep safety, he doesn't give up on plays and provides help on receivers. Corey is versatile in the backfield which will aid any defense.

JUCO DB Dre Greeley

Dre comes to Colorado State as one of the more talented junior college cornerbacks. He is a dynamic player in the secondary, a natural ballhawk who has a good eye for the ball. Greeley plays tight man coverage and doesn’t allow the receiver to get much separation on their routes. He is also skilled in zone coverage and has impressive closing speed. It’s easy to see Dre playing a big role for the Rams next season.

Transfer DB AJ King

AJ is another defensive back in this class. He shines playing off in coverage and closing in to make a play. King is a ball-hawk in coverage, and shows determination after the interception to make a big play even bigger. His time on offense allows him to track the ball well in the air and he displays great hands. AJ could potentially develop into a real play-maker in the secondary.

Transfer DB Chigozie Anusiem

Chigozie is a highly regarded transfer coming from the PAC-12. He possesses game-changing speed and utilizes it both making plays on the ball and with the ball in his hands. Anusiem has great hands, a smooth backpedal, and impressive vision which all allow him to be a dynamic cornerback. He is physical with receivers and can get them off their routes to disrupt plays. Chigozie should see the field right away and could give them a much-needed playmaker on defense.

Transfer DB Donavann Collins

Not announced as part of the class and not counted in the numbers.

Donavann comes over as a transfer from TCU. He is a rangy player roaming the back of the defense who can cover a lot of ground. Collins is a very physical tackler, putting his entire body into his hits. He diagnoses plays well and reacts with great speed. Donavann should be able to find a role on the field next season immediately.

Transfer P Paddy Turner

Highlights could not be found.

Paddy is another player who followed Norvell over from Nevada. He figures to have a solid chance to win the punting job. Turner did not make an appearance on the field last season, his first in college football. He is an Australian punter and those types of players have found success in college football. Paddy figures to do his job and keep improving and he could be seen on the field next year.

Team Writer Thoughts:

The biggest get of this class in my mind was transfer QB Clay Millen. He lacks in-game experience because he played behind future NFL draft pick Carson Strong, but Millen is an incredibly talented QB who already knows Jay Norvell’s system. This will make the transition from the Addazio era more seamless than people realize. With the new transfer rules, it’s easier than ever to turn around a program right away, and if there was ever a program that needed a quick turnaround, it’s Colorado State. The other big get in this class, which wasn’t a transfer, was obviously Mekhi Fox. The 4-star receiver/return man from Southern California should be able to make some big plays right away for the Rams. Norvell’s recruiting prowess in Southern California will be significant for CSU for years to come.

Quick Hits:

Headliner(s):

Mike: Fox, Stratton, Oxley

Lute: Fox, Stratton, Fowler-Nicolosi, Oxley

Talented enough to play right away:

Mike: Fox, Stratton, Oxley, Williams, Ross-Simmons

Lute: Fox, Stratton, Oxley

Sleeper Recruit:

Mike: Scott, Brown

Lute: Williams, Scott

Best unit:

Mike: Wide Receiver, Quarterback

Lute: Wide Receiver, Quarterback

Summary:

At the end of the day, Colorado State added an influx of talent into their program, which is the goal of any recruiting class. They did this in a variety of ways; transfers, recruits from Norvell’s previous school, and new recruits. They also did it intentionally, identifying players who could run their offensive system and prioritizing a mixture of people who could play right away while also keeping an eye on building for the future. It’s a smart strategy for this transition year, and it will be interesting to see how it works for the Rams in 2022 and beyond.

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