With the spring in the rearview mirror, I did my best to project what the Rams week one lineup will look like. Keep in mind, Jay Norvell hasn’t been shy about continuing to explore the transfer portal, so new players could arrive on campus at any point. Without further ado, here is my best guess of Colorado State’s current depth chart!
KEY: * = locked in starter, **= injured, *** = suspended, (school player transferred from)
Clay Millen seized the starting QB job last season, throwing for 1,900 yards and 10 TDs. No surprise, he will be QB1 for the Rams. If he can take another step in his development, Colorado State will have one of the conferences’ best passing offenses. The battle for the back-up role is currently led by Jackson Stratton, but Brayden Fowler-Nicolisi isn’t far behind. Other names to watch for are former walk-on sophomore Giles Pooler and 3 star true freshman Jackson Brousseau.
- RS/SO Clay Millen*
- RS/FR Jackson Stratton OR RS/FR Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi
- SO Giles Pooler OR 3 star FR Jackson Brousseau
The RB room has more uncertainty than any other position group. Anthony Morrow, who rushed for over 800 yards as the Rams lead back in ‘22, was arrested in January on an assault charge, and won’t be involved in team activities until his case is fully resolved. That leaves a pair of transfers to carry the load, senior Kobe Johnson from North Dakota State and JUCO standout KJ Edwards. Both are expected to contribute right away. True freshmen Justin Marshall and Damian Henderson II are other names to look for this year.
- RS/SR Kobe Johnson (North Dakota St)
- JR Anthony Morrow*** OR JR KJ Edwards (Victor Valley CC)
- 3 star FR Justin Marshall OR 3 star FR Damian Henderson II
The wideouts are led by senior Tory Horton, who is one of the best receivers in the nation. Justus Ross-Simmons was a key piece of the Rams offense last year as a true freshman, and is locked in as the other outside WR. Sophomore Louis Brown spent the spring as the starting slot receiver, but the mystery is where SMU transfer Dylan Goffney fits into the equation. At 6’1”, 213 pounds, he isn’t exactly a slot option, but there’s too much talent to not find him a spot on the field. Most of the WR depth will come from incoming freshmen (six players signed for the fall).
- SR Tory Horton*
- JR Dylan Goffney (SMU)
- SO Justus Ross-Simmons*
- SO Louis Brown
- 2* FR Silas Evans III
The Rams hope to get more use from their tight ends than they did in the year prior (just 185 receiving yards from TEs). Norvell brought in Dallin Holker, who had 521 yards and 3 TDs during his time at BYU, as well as JUCO giant (6’7”) Vince Brown. Sophomore Jordan Williams should also factor into the rotation.
- RS/JR Dallin Holker* (BYU)
- JR Vince Brown (C of DuPage) OR SO Jordan Williams
Both tackle spots are up for grabs. Currently, D2 transfer Saveyon Henderson is the favorite to start on the left side, parlaying 20 straight starts at Lane College into a spot on the Rams roster. The other option is Missouri grad transfer Bobby Lawrence. The 6’9” rotation lineman could theoretically start anywhere on the line (36 starts in career across multiple positions), but I’ll pencil him in as the back-up left and right tackle. Don’t be surprised if he is a week one starter, though.
- JR Saveyon Henderson (Lane College)
- GR Bobby Lawrence (Mizzou)
Oliver Jervis should begin the year as the starting left guard. The Pennsylvania native has started 24 games during his time at Monmouth, the last 10 of which were at LG. Another factor will be junior Brian Crespo-Jaquez, who started his first career game in the ‘22 season opener @ Michigan, but got injured and wouldn’t see the field again after that. Though still not fully healthy, Crespo-Jaquez will push Jervis for his starting role or be a valuable rotation piece.
- RS/SR Oliver Jervis (Monmouth)
- RS/JR Brian Crespo-Jaquez**
The only guaranteed starter in the offensive line is Senior Jacob Garner. He’s racked up 3 All-MW honorable mentions during his career, and will be back to his natural position in the middle (moved to LT for final 10 games of ‘22). Gardner will be one of the leaders in the locker room this season.
- RS/SR Jacob Gardner*
Teivis Tuioti made the switch from the defensive line to the offensive line this off-season, and was in at right guard for the spring game. The 6’3”, 275 pound Hawaii native will fill a huge hole in the line if he can rise to the occasion as the starter. Brian Crespo-Jaquez could also see time at this position, once he’s healthy.
- RS/JR Teivis Tuioti
- RS/JR Brian Crespo-Jaquez**
Drew Moss was another transfer pick-up for the offensive line. He started all 22 games while at Lamar, and now makes the jump to the FBS. Bobby Lawrence could see time here as well, either as a starter if Moss struggles or as a back-up.
- JR Drew Moss (Lamar)
- GR Bobby Lawrence (Mizzou)
The Rams have one of the deepest DLine units in the Mountain West, and it all starts with Mo Kamara. After leading the team in sacks and TFLs, he decided to use his last year of eligibility for one more ride in Fort Collins. Other players who could rotate in at left end are sophomore Mukendi Wa-Kalonji, who had a pivotal scoop n’ score in last years’ win @ Nevada, and redshirt freshman Marshon Oxley.
- GR Mohamed Kamara*
- RS/SO Mukendi Wa-Kalonji
- RS/FR Marshon Oxley
Grady Kelly headlines the interior DLineman, after a phenomenal freshman campaign where he recorded 43 tackles. The other starting tackle spot will either be junior Cam Bariteau or Matt Thomas, a solid transfer pick-up from Rhode Island. James Mitchell and Tyler Quinn will also see the field at times.
- RS/SO Grady Kelly*
- RS/JR Cam Bariteau
- RS/SR Matt Thomas (Rhode Island)
- RS/JR James Mitchell
- RS/SO Tyler Quinn
Troy Golden also used his final year of eligibility, and will possibly start at right end. If it isn’t him, North Dakota State transfer Tony Pierce will be a solid starting option. He played in 52 games over his five year career with the Bison, and brings experience out the wazoo to a group that already had plenty of it. Redshirt freshman Nuer Gatkuoth and 3 star recruit Kennedy McDowell will rotate in.
- GR Troy Golden
- RS/SR Tony Pierce (North Dakota St)
- RS/FR Nuer Gatkuoth
- 3* FR Kennedy McDowell
Sophomore Drew Kulick is poised for a breakout season after racking up 43 tackles this past season, but an injury near the end of spring practice could keep him out past the beginning of the year. Junior Chase Wilson was the other starting linebacker this spring, so he will likely occupy one of those roles in Week 1, but the mystery lies with Cal transfer Trey Paster. He had a solid ‘21 campaign, but only recorded one tackle this past season. He’ll likely start until Kulick is healthy. Once that happens, the LB core will have three definite contributors.
- RS/JR Chase Wilson*
- RS/JR Trey Paster (Cal)
- RS/SO Drew Kulick**
CB1 is obvious, as Chigozie Anusiem is back for one more year after leading the team with 9 pass breakups. The other boundary will be manned by one of two transfers, Ron Hardge III from Oregon State or Dominic Morris from Furman. Hardge is at the third school of his career, and hopes to get starting reps after being a rotational piece at his last two stops. Morris, who had three picks during his time as a Paladin, slotted in as the third corner in the spring, but could earn even more time before the season starts. Junior Brandon Guzman, who had 30 tackles and 6 pass deflections last year, will get on the field as well.
- GR Chigozie Anusiem*
- RS/SR Ron Hardge III (Oregon St)
- JR Dominic Morris (Furman)
- RS/JR Brandon Guzman
Ayden Hector seized his opportunity last year, finishing with 3 interceptions and 7 deflections. No doubt he’ll be starting at nickel for the Rams once again. Sophomore Langston Williams will back him up.
- RS/JR Ayden Hector*
- RS/SO Langston Williams
Jack Howell may be the best safety in the conference. One of just three sophomores on last years’ All-MW 1st team, Howell racked up 108 tackles and 3 INTs. He’ll be the leader of the secondary, and may be knocking on the door of the All-American team if he can improve even more. Senior Henry Blackburn will be the other starter up top. He finished second on the team in deflections and forced two fumbles. The two of them create a scary tandem for QBs to deal with. If that wasn’t enough talent, Norvell hit the portal for another versatile defender, securing Dom Jones from North Dakota State. With 41 games under his belt, the 6’3” Georgia native will certainly be a factor in the secondary.
- JR Jack Howell*
- SR Henry Blackburn
- SR Dom Jones (North Dakota St)
Paddy Turner is locked in as the Rams punter. After following Norvell from Nevada to Colorado State, the Australian was immediately the full-time starter. He needs to improve his distance, as his 39 yards per punt average is 82nd out of 86 eligible punters from last year, but his job is in no jeopardy.
- RS/SO Paddy Turner*
Henry Katleman and Bryan Hansen split the kicking duties during the spring, but both struggled. Norvell brought in 31 year old Jordan Noyes as a reinforcement. The England native went 8-12 on field goals in his three years with Utah, with a long of 43 yards. It’s not a done deal that Noyes will be the starter. Katleman will still have a chance, but he’ll need to be more consistent to beat out the new arrival.
- JR Jordan Noyes (Utah)
- GR Henry Katleman
- RS/FR Bryan Hansen
After taking over as long snapper for the final four games of the ‘22 season, former walk-on and Fort Collins native Cody Pettitt will get a full season as the starter. Redshirt freshman Brady Radz will back him up.
- RS/SO Cody Pettitt*
- RS/FR Brady Radz
Kick Return / Punt Return:
Justus Ross-Simmons is the favorite to be the Rams kick returner, but several others could end up in that spot. Tory Horton received the majority of punt returns last season, and he could certainly stay in that role or switch to kick returns as well. However, with how integral Horton is to the Rams offense, I also wouldn’t be surprised if he is completely off the return team, to keep his legs fresh.
- SO Justus Ross-Simmons
- SR Tory Horton