CSU football media day: Rams look toward season with renewed hope

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Collegian | Garrett Mogel

A Colorado State University football helmet sits on a table inside Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins Aug. 18.

Kaden Porter, Staff Reporter

Colorado State University Linebacker Dequan Jackson (5) poses for a photo at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins Colorado Aug. 18
Colorado State University linebacker Dequan Jackson (5) poses for a photo at Canvas Stadium Aug. 18. (Collegian | Garrett Mogel)

With less than two weeks remaining before Colorado State University football kicks off the season on the road against the University of Michigan, the team is focused on improving not only their play on the field but also their relationships with one another.

“I think the team dynamic has changed,” fifth-year linebacker and defensive leader Dequan Jackson said. “I think we’re playing together more, and I think guys are even cooperating more off the field and leaning on each other. The coaches have done a great job of coming in and bringing energy.”

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In order to unify as a team, relationship building goes beyond the field, and multiple players emphasized how important the surrounding community is to the football team.

“I just want to thank everybody behind the scenes,” tight end Tanner Arkin said. “Those people — the support staff — they do a lot for us.” 

Jackson also acknowledged the importance of the team’s support staff and added how important the whole CSU community is to the team.

“Hopefully we can do this together this year; I don’t want it to be a football team and a fan base,” he said. “I want it to be all one Ram country.”

Colorado State University Tight End Tanner Arkin (89) poses for a photo inside Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins Colorado Aug. 18
Colorado State University tight end Tanner Arkin (89) poses for a photo inside Canvas Stadium Aug. 18. (Collegian | Garrett Mogel)

Arkin and Jackson were both named to the Mountain West Conference preseason top five lists at their respective positions — Arkin was named the top tight end in the conference while Jackson came in fourth on the linebackers list. Despite this, neither athlete is focused on their current ranking.

“There’s no point in me worrying about what I’m ranked at right now when I expect to have a great season and come out on top,” Jackson said.

As the offseason and fall camp progressed, members of head coach Jay Norvell’s inaugural recruiting class also showed they’re confident and ready to contribute.

“When someone lines up against me, I’m always going to think that I’m better than them, even if it might not be the case,” freshman wide receiver Justus Ross-Simmons said. “I’m always going to give 110% and give it my all out there.”

Fellow freshman wide receiver Mekhi Fox echoed Ross-Simmons’ sentiment.

“As a freshman, I just want to get in where I fit in — get the ball here and there and make plays, win games,” Fox said. “They just have to give me the opportunity for me to show my ability.”

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Wide receivers coach Chad Savage said freshmen may indeed get that opportunity this season despite being part of a roster full of wide receivers packed with talent.

“Now that they’ve had some success in practice and in scrimmage situations, their mindsets are shifting in the right direction,” Savage said. “They know we’re going to rely on them this year to play.”

Colorado State University Wide Receiver Justus-Simmons (85) sits inside Canvas Stadium during an interview Aug. 18
Colorado State University wide receiver Justus Ross-Simmons (85) sits inside Canvas Stadium during an interview Aug. 18. (Collegian | Garrett Mogel)

Looking toward the Sept. 3 Michigan matchup against The Associated Press’ eighth-ranked team, CSU’s players aren’t letting their upcoming opponent intimidate them.

“It’s always an opportunity to play a big team like that to get the exposure, but I’m not too worried about the name,” Jackson said. “I just know that I don’t think there’s any fear in our guys, and we’ll go out there and give it our all.”

“It’s our first game all together, so there’s going to be a lot of things that go right, and there’s going to be some things that we have to work on, but I think we all realize that,” associate head coach and quarterbacks coach Matt Mumme said. “If we feed off each other — offense feeds off defense and special teams and vice versa — and we limit mistakes, we’ve got a chance to go in there and do some things.”

Beyond Michigan, the team is excited for the matchups they’ll see this season, especially hosting the annual Border War rivalry game against the University of Wyoming.

“I’m from Fort Collins, so I’ve understood the rivalry for a long time,” Arkin said. “It’s just a new level of pride when you’re playing for CSU, and you come to learn that rivalry and the dislike for them.”

Despite the excitement for the season, the team is taking it one game at a time.

“I think all of us would love to look forward and say that we’d like to be in a bowl game, but really our focus right now is just to get through Michigan,” Mumme said.

Reach Kaden Porter at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @kqporter5.