If it wasn’t official before, it is now. Mike Bobo’s first season as head coach at Colorado State began Friday as the Rams kicked off preseason camp in a two-hour session that saw a little bit of rust and inconsistency, but overall left Bobo in high spirits.
“We’re light years ahead of where we were in the spring, because there’s a level of comfortability in the system, in the coaches, and they know how we expect each drill to be run,” Bobo said. “The tempo was a lot better, but we’ve got to keep improving that and I told them this morning in the walk-through that in the spring we were at level one and now we’re at about level four today.”
The first of 19 sessions before classes begin on Aug. 24 was highlighted by a few outstanding catches in individual drills by receivers Joe Hansley and Xavier Williams, as well as the return of injured senior tight end Kivon Cartwright. Rashard Higgins, CSU’s consensus All-American receiver, was a full participant in drills after sitting out the spring with a hamstring injury. Cornerback Deandre Elliott was also back from injury along with his secondary mate Jake Schlager.
However, Bobo did announce that projected starting center Jake Bennett had a setback in his recovery from injury and will be limited in the early stages of fall camp. Offensive lineman Jordan Finley and defensive back Davon Riddick have also received medical hardship waivers and will no longer participate on the field. Both will stay involved with the program, as Finley will help offensive line coach Will Friend and Riddick will assist director of football operations Tom Ehlers.
In terms of the on-field activities during what proved to be a brutal 120-minute session with temperatures rising into the low 90’s, players were satisfied with the intensity they brought, though they know Bobo and the rest of the staff expect even more.
“I don’t think we’re at where Coach (Bobo) expects us to be at by the time we open the season in terms of intensity, but we came out and got after it today,” sophomore wideout Elroy Masters Jr. said. “I think the spring was our big adjustment period, it was a big transition from the last staff but we’ve adopted the faster tempo and there’s a lot of guys coming into fall camp who understand what’s expected of us now.”
But despite their satisfaction with where their energy level was at, players know it will jump to a completely different level once they don the pads and start full-contact practices next Tuesday.
“It always does,” senior safety Kevin Pierre-Louis said of the intensity level rising once the pads go on. “This is fall camp and I expect it to get even more cranked up every day. Today, we had a lot of energy but it’s going to get cranked up even higher as it starts to get a little hotter and guys start hitting each other. That’s what the grind of fall camp is all about, and we’re definitely looking forward to that.”
Collegian Senior Sports Reporter Keegan Pope can reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @bykeeganpope.