SAN JOSE, Calif. – Dee Hart doesn’t back away from any challenge. The junior transfer from Alabama plays with a passion that has spread through the Colorado State football team like wildfire, and it was never more apparent than during Saturday night’s game against San Jose State.
On a run over the right tackle early in the first quarter, Hart broke into the open field and could have easily avoided contact with a San Jose State defender by stepping out of bounds. Instead, with his off hand, Hart pointed at the oncoming defender as if to say, “Right here, right now.” As they approached the sideline, Hart lowered his shoulder and the two collided before falling to the turf.
As both players got up, he and Hart exchanged a few words that will likely stay between the two of them.
He wasn’t going to back down; not then, not ever.
And while CSU head coach Jim McElwain constantly decries any sort of trash talk, Hart’s brash confidence and swagger have made an obvious positive effect on the 8-1 Rams.
“I love that,” Hart said of the contact. “You’ve got to come get some. (In the) first quarter, a lot of guys are real chippy and you’ve got to go out and establish what you’re going for, and I’m a running back that won’t go for those cheap shots, so you’re going to have come hit me in my face.”
It’s an attitude like Hart’s that has been contagious, with different Colorado State players seemingly gaining more and more confidence each week.
And his teammates have continued to notice.
“I think those last two touchdowns said it all,” senior quarterback Garrett Grayson said of Hart. “On one he just completely ran over the kid, and the one before that he left the guy standing in his tracks. I think he knew with the kind of rush defense that (San Jose State) has that we should be able to rush all over them and he took full advantage of it. He’s a hell of a player and we expect that.”
Hart’s passion for the game, something he brought to and from the University of Alabama, has separated him as Colorado State’s best running back, something Jim McElwain has expected from him since he joined the team late this summer.
“Dee came up to me and grabbed me with a big grin and said, ‘Coach, I just love these games,’” McElwain said. “I just kind of knew, we feel good that he can salt it away. He did a good job with some cuts, he made some one-cut runs and didn’t dance. Treyous (Jarrells) was a little off today and Dee just went in and did his job.”
While Hart’s yardage numbers weren’t particularly eye-popping, his career-four touchdowns were, seemingly all coming at the exact moment CSU needed a big play. As Colorado State heads into the homestretch of the regular season against Hawaii, Air Force and New Mexico over the next three weeks, expect defenses to continue to see a heavy dose of number 10.
Dee Hart isn’t afraid of anybody, and he also isn’t afraid to let you know it.
Collegian Sports Editor Keegan Pope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.