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Competition gets stiffer for Rams as camp continues

IMG_3866There are reasons shows like Survivor, American Idol and Dancing with the Stars are on the double-digit seasons. They breed rivalries, force people to pick favorites and push the contestants to get better.

Coach Jim McElwain understands this; making a competition out of almost anything is a surefire way to pick up the performance.

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“The key to this deal is competition at every position,” McElwain said after Tuesday’s scrimmage.

The Rams certainly have a lot of competition to go around. They currently have two (maybe three) worthy quarterbacks, vying to take the opening snap, three experienced running backs trying to get the edge on the powerhouse freshman, and a healthy crop of wide receivers.

The quarterback saga between junior Garrett Grayson and sophomore Conner Smith may have gotten a little more complicated; an unnamed freshman has been doing his best to impress Coach Mac.

“We’ve developed a third one as well, that I think we need to start getting in the mix a little bit,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see the film moving from there.”

When asked for a definite name, McElwain slyly evaded the question, via one his  famed wry smiles.

There are three possible fits to Mac’s mysterious up-and-comer. Both Gasper Dominici, out of Mullen High School and Nick Stevens out of California are true freshman, while Craig Leonard, a local Fort-dweller is a red-shirt freshman.

CSU has received a lot of hype over their running game, where Donnell Alexander and Chris Nwoke have been making waves. They rushed a combined 13 times in Tuesday’s scrimmage, but each have a somewhat permanent role in the rotation. As permanent as McElwain’s stressed competition may allow.

Freshman Bryce Peters, out of Houston Texas opened eyes during the scrimmage, rushing for 43 yards over nine carries.

“We’ve got some guys that stepped up in this environment, and that’s great,” McElwain said. “Pushing each other to get better, and we did that.”

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The young Rams continued to impress in the air. Freshman wide receiver, Rashard Higgins, from Mesquite Texas hauled in three receptions for 65 yards a touchdown.

The team has a lot of depth at this position, with 13 listed on the roster, and none of them seniors. With five true freshman, and four redshirt freshman at the position, there is a lot of learning alongside the competing for this position.

I was excited to see how far they have come,” McElwain says. “ Their heads are spinning but that’s part of it . They are earning their stripes, and there are some receivers that are going to play some valuable, valuable minutes.”

As far as the rest of preseason camp goes, McElwain isn’t looking to far into the future.

“The next step for us to be a really good football team is how you learn from tonight, then come out tomorrow morning and put it into practice. That’s what really good football teams do.”

 

Football Beat Reporter, Cali Rastrelli can be reached at sports@collegian.com
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