Back in 2009, “The Climb,” by Miley Cyrus blasted from the room of preteens across the nation. Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain is bringing back “The Climb” as the theme for this season – minus the pop song.
Friday morning, midway through fall camp, the Rams are training hard for the climb ahead. At the top of the peak? Mountain West Champions and a big-time bowl bid.
“Our new slogan is the climb – we climbed one peak, and we are looking to the next,” senior linebacker Aaron Davis said. “We want to do better than last year, and we had a good offseason. You can see the maturation of this team.”
At this point last year, the Rams were still growing accustomed to the regime McElwain was implementing and they didn’t have a starting quarterback.This year, each individual player knows what is expected of him and they have a Manning Academy attendee as their returning starter under center. The ceiling for success is high, but so is the work level required.
“It’s that time of camp where everybody is kind of getting tired and beat up, and coach Mac said that’s how it should be. If you’re not, you’re not pushing hard enough,” senior quarterback Garrett Grayson said. “But you can just tell, there’s confidence floating around, you just have to mentally push through it.”
Despite the obvious increase in experience and therefore confidence, McElwain is quick to point out any flaws he finds. Both the quarterbacks and the running backs had to repeat their drill sequence from the beginning, not meeting Mac’s standards the first time around.
“The thing about confidence is – you know you put in the work, that’s how you gain confidence,” McElwain said. “You hear this guys chirping and talking – that’s just false. Someone that has true confidence knows they put in the work. I’m seeing guys do that.”
Update on the secondary:
The unit that garnered the most criticism last season is prepared to change their reputation. CSU’s secondary has been revamped over the offseason, adding seven freshman to drive competition.
Junior cornerback Trent Matthews has enjoyed being pushed by the up-and-comers, despite losing his job security.
“This camp is a lot different than the last one because of the depth, and I think it’s better. It’s pushing me, it’s pushing guys who haven’t been pushed this hard,” Matthews says. “It’s really showcasing their abilities.”
In addition to the freshman, the Rams other young talents continue to impress.
“Tyree has been going hard everyday, he’s getting the coverage down better, as far as the deep ball goes, he has better eyes. He has been a team player and I can’t ask anything more of him,” Matthews said.
The work horses:
With the addition of Alabama-transfer Dee Hart, the Rams have serious depth at the running back position. Jasen Oden, Treyous Jarrells and Deron Thompson are three others on McElwain’s radar. He has nCCamed Oden as the starter, but says the team will rely heavily upon the depth.
“We’ve got options, and at the position, you don’t want to overload, so we will spread the wealth like we believe we should,” McElwain said.
Hart and Oden have continued to impress coaches with their skills not only as ball-carriers but as pass protectors.
“That’s the way you find the field, being able to do everything, and Jasen and Dee understand that,” McElwain said.Collegian Football Beat Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @c_rasta5.