Spring Wrap: Colorado State Rams
By Ken Pomponio
Spring drills are winding down in the Mountain West Conference with nine of the 12 squads having put the wraps on their allotted 15 practices.
Here’s a glance at how the spring went for Colorado State, which is entering its second season under coach Jim McElwain:
- As anticipated, the Rams’ linebacking corps stood out this spring, led by senior Shaquil Barrett, an All-MWC honorable mention selection a year ago. Cory James and Aaron Davis also return, and the coaching staff likes what it has in 2012 key reserve Nu’uvali Fa’apito, who notched a team-high eight tackles in the spring game.
- CSU only finished 95th in FBS rushing a year ago, but all the key ingredients are back – including the team’s top two rushers in senior Chris Nwoke and sophomore Donnell Alexander, and five offensive linemen who made at least seven starts in 2012 – for what should be a much-improved ground attack.
- Junior quarterback Garrett Grayson, who was limited to five starts a year ago before fracturing his collarbone, seemingly emerged from the spring as the front-runner, but McElwain insists that sophomore Conner Smith remains in the mix, and so the debate and uncertainty will linger into the summer and fall.
- With 16 returning starters overall, there aren’t too many more pressing question marks, but a key one looms at punter, where the Rams are replacing three-time all-conference selection Pete Koutodiakos, the team’s only first-team honoree last season. Redshirt freshman Hayden Hunt is getting the first crack at the job, but he had an uneven spring and is a work in progress.
- Grayson was 16-of-28 for 153 yards and pair of TD tosses against the first-team defense as the Green got the best of the Gold, 14-6.
- Nwoke carried nine times for 41 yards and added 20 yards and a TD on two catches out of the backfield.
- Redshirt freshman receiver Jordon Vaden overcame two glaring drops to lead all pass catchers with six grabs for 55 yards and a score.
- The Gold may have come up short, but don’t blame Barrett, who recorded six total tackles, including five solo stops, and three sacks.
Fall camp, of course, and then CSU will be the last of the 12 MWC teams to kick off the 2013 season, opening against the Pac-12’s Colorado in Denver on Sunday, Sept. 1.