Even as its bowl game dreams hang in the balance, the CSU football team refuses to miss a beat. The Rams will not know their fate until the Mountain West bowl participants are announced on Sunday, but they are using this week to prepare as though they are certain.
Ten coaches, including Jim McElwain, are currently jetting around the country on a recruiting mission, leaving senior leaders and a few assistants in charge of keeping the team focused.
After Saturday’s game, McElwain expressed the importance of recruiting. Even a bowl game could not deter him from going.
“Ten of us are hitting the road to get some new guys in here, replenish what the great senior class has done,” he said. “You need to establish relentless competitive spirit and go get explosive play-makers; that’s what recruiting is. This next class we recruit has a lot to live up to.”
Be what it may, the senior class is not ready to relinquish its veteran spot on the football field. Seniors Weston Richburg and Crockett Gillmore remain confident they have not played their last game suited up in green and gold.
“We are expecting to be in a bowl game. We are preparing that way,” Richburg said. “We put in the work this year, we produced this year. You’ve got Kapri [Bibbs] who ran for 1,500 yards, you’ve got Garrett [Grayson] who threw for 3,000 yards — we are the only team in the country with that kind of combination.”
Richburg and Gillmore joined their teammates in the weight room Monday morning, the first of a series throughout this week. Without their regular coaches or practice schedules, this week resembles spring football.
McElwain said the team will reconvene over the weekend, and will get ready during dead week, while still placing ample focus on recruitment. Assuming the Rams receive a bowl bid, they will resume a regular game-planning schedule the week of finals.
Gillmore and Richburg each admitted to frequently checking the bowl predictions on who is going where. Their confidence has not wavered and it helps that they are never the ones left out of the picture.
“We got ourselves to this point, the entire team has done a great job of coming together,” Gillmore said. “We are just going to go prepare to win a bowl game. We’re excited, whatever happens, happens.”
The Rams will likely either play in Boise’s Potato Bowl or the New Mexico Bowl, but other outcomes are still a possibility, including not going to any.
“After three years of not going, I don’t think we even have a right to be picky,” Richburg says. “We are just excited about going.”Football Beat Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @c_rasta5.