CSU football’s 2018 recruiting class sits at 23 after National Signing Day

Colin Barnard

It’s becoming a familiar statement in Fort Collins on National Signing Day: Colorado State football secured one of its best recruiting classes in recent memory.

The 2018 class is no different as the Rams signed 17 3-star recruits, according to player ratings from 247Sports. At the time of its last signing, CSU’s class ranked No. 77 in the nation, second in the Mountain West behind Boise State (No. 56).

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Having lost many contributors on a unit that ranked eighth in total defense in the Mountain West in 2017, the Rams’ emphasis of the 2018 class came on the defensive side. 15 of the current 23-man recruiting class are on defense as the unit looks to catch up to the torrid pace the offense has produced at it recent seasons.

“We needed to address some needs defensively as far as sheer numbers,” coach Mike Bobo said. “We’ve got some talent coming in on (the defensive) side of the ball…I feel good about the defense after this signing class.”

The 2018 class introduced 17 athletes during the early signing period on Dec. 20, highlighted by a pair of defensive standouts from SEC country.

6-foot-2, 305-pound defensive lineman Devin Phillips, younger brother of CSU offensive lineman Joctavis Phillips, picked CSU over Power 5 schools Miami, TCU and Texas Tech. He earned a 4-star rating from ESPN and was ranked No. 245 on the ESPN 300.

Dequan Jackson, a consensus 3-star linebacker from Jacksonville, Fla., also turned down Power 5 schools in Maryland and Purdue to come to Fort Collins.

Having already secured a promising start to the recruiting class during the early period, National Signing Day brought a bevy of players with Power 5 offers to CSU.

One standout of the group is Nikko Hall, a 3-star athlete from Calabasas, Calif. who possessed an offer list similar to that of a five-star player. Hall turned away offers from a plethora of SEC, Big 10 and Pac 12 schools including USC, Oregon, Florida, Wisconsin and others.

The 6-foot-1, 171-pound commit played safety and wide receiver at Calabasas High School. In his final two seasons, Hall combined for 1,483 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. On the defensive side, he recorded 79 total tackles and six interceptions. Hall will play wide receiver for CSU.

An additional point of emphasis following the early signing period was on the offensive line. The Rams lost starters Jake Bennett, Zack Golditch and Trae Moxley on the line and had yet to make a splash at the position before Wednesday.

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The Colorado State football team runs out of the tunnel at the beginning of the Rams' Homecoming win over Nevada. (Javon Harris | Collegian)
The Colorado State football team runs out of the tunnel at the beginning of the Rams’ Homecoming win over Nevada. (Javon Harris | Collegian)

Before the day concluded, though, CSU brought in three offensive linemen. Keith Williams, a 6-foot-7, 280-pound transfer from Independence Community College was the first to sign with the Rams. Williams has three years of eligibility remaining.

6-foot-4, 310-pound Kavesz Sherard also made his commit official. Rated as a three-star recruit by ESPN and 247Sports, Sherard picked CSU over the likes of Clemson, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The Rams inked their third offensive lineman of the day in Ches Jackson, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound lineman from Tifton, Ga. The trio joined Florian McCann who committed in the early period.

Brought in as the offensive line coach, Dave Johnson was also named offensive coordinator during Wednesday’s signing period. For Johnson, addressing the offensive line was a focal point heading into the day. Johnson’s search for help on the offensive line started immediately after his bowl game at Ohio when he began watching video on potential recruits.

“To find three quality offensive linemen in a three- to four-week period is tough,” Johnson said. “It was really a group effort, but the last month-and-a-half has been a whirlwind for sure.”

6-foot, 180-pound cornerback Malcolm Magee Jr. and 6-foot-1, 200-pound linebacker Cam’Ron Carter round out the commits from National Signing Day.

Entering his first season as CSU’s defensive coordinator, John Jancek is excited about the defensive talent evident in the 2018 class.

“I think there’s a lot of guys that can come in and provide some really quality depth,” Jancek said. “Playing time for them will be decided once they get on campus and we get a chance to work with them. But I thought our recruiting class was outstanding and I’m very excited about the guys we were able to sign.”

The signing class also features three younger brothers of 2017 Rams. Zach Schlager, Devin Phillips and Trey McBride will carry on their family name in Fort Collins.

In total, the 23-man signing class features members from 12 different states, including 12 players from the southeast and one, Jan-Phillip Bombek, from Germany. The Rams added six defensive linemen in the class, the most of any positional group.

“Signing day is always a special day for the university as well as these young men and their families who are choosing a school,” Bobo said. “We are definitely excited about these young men who have chosen Colorado State to get an education and to play football.”

Collegian sports director Colin Barnard can be reached by email at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @ColinBarnard_.