Five CSU football players recognized nationally in the preseason

Mack Beaulieu

The Colorado State Rams have placed five players on preseason award watch lists during the past week, as well as having punter Ryan Stonehouse named as a preseason All-Mountain West selection July 24. 

The team will look to establish itself this season, while being one of the most inexperienced teams in the nation, but running back Izzy Matthews, tight end Cameron Butler, fullback Adam Prentice, placekicker Wyatt Bryan and Stonehouse have already established themselves as players who could achieve big things this season.

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Stonehouse and fellow special teamer Bryan were named to watch lists for their respective positions with Stonehouse being named for the Ray Guy Award watch list and Bryan making an appearance on the Lou Groza Award watch list, an award he was a semifinalist for last season. 

Matthews was the first to be selected July 18 for the Doak Walker Award watch list. Given to the best collegiate running back in the nation every year, Matthews looks to finally have a chance to be the Rams leading running back after Dalyn Dawkins departed for the NFL.

Matthews will have his work cut out for him this year because the Rams’ offensive line lost three starters from last season, with further questions about the quarterback position. Additionally, new offensive line coach and run game coordinator Dave Johnson comes from run-heavy Ohio State and Georgia. The Rams will be putting out an inexperienced line in the middle of learning their new coach’s preferences, a rocky path to the top.

“The offensive scheme is the same,” lineman Barry Wesley said to the Reporter Herald.  “But just the way coach Johnson wants us to do it is completely different.”

The Rams’ next preseason nominees’ success may also hinge on how well the offensive line and quarterback situations work out. Butler had one of the best freshman seasons ever for a Rams’ tight end last year, with 12 catches and 171 yards. Butler is poised to be a sure-handed outlet if the Rams’ lineman and new starting quarterback struggle.

Butler was highly touted as a senior coming out of South Carolina after playing wide receiver in high school. The big-bodied Butler made the switch to being a dynamic tight end with the highlight of his freshman season coming on a 50-yard TD reception.

“That’s what’s so scary, if he had played a full season, he’s definitely an SEC-caliber kid,” Butler’s former high school coach Perry Parks told the Coloradoan. “He went to Georgia’s camp and shredded it. Coach Bobo and coach Cox, they did their homework and got a great kid.”

Butler should have more of a chance to live up to that billing as a sophomore, with the Rams losing wide receiver Michael Gallup. They will need somebody to step up alongside last year’s second-leading receiver, Olabisi Johnson.

Of the Rams to be recognized this preseason, Stonehouse is perhaps the most likely to end up with hardware as he finished fifth in the BCS last year with an average of 45.9 yards per punt. If he keeps that up, he should be a lock to make the All-Mountain West team at the end of the season.

For his off-the-field endeavors, fullback Adam Prentice has been nominated for the 2018 Allstate American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. As one of the nation’s most prestigious off-the-field awards, the title recognizes athletes who enrich the lives of people around them, while overcoming struggles in their own lives.

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During the past year or so, Prentice has enriched the lives of others in spades after earning a scholarship as a walk-on for the Rams. While maintaining a strong GPA, Prentice has worked with respite care and a program called Night to Shine to help kids with developmental disabilities experience some of the everyday experiences that many people take for granted. He also recently attended CSU’s Green and Global program in Jamaica where athletes spoke to the local youth, had a glimpse into life in another country and helped build a playground.

“My drive to serve others was instilled in me by my dad,” Prentice said. “His life was centered around serving others, and naturally became a part of mine. He stressed the importance of giving back to the community and to those who are less fortunate, especially through service. I believe it is important to give back because I think a little good can go a long way.”

While Prentice works on improving the world, all of the nominated Rams will have the common cause of exceeding expectations this season. The team has been picked to finish middle of the pack or lower in most Mountain West predictions.

Collegian sports reporter Mack Beaulieu can be reached at sports@collegian.com or @Macknz_James.