Ram athletes stay busy, pro Denver sports win over summer

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Collegian | Lucy Morantz

Junior Isaiah Stevens (4) makes a free throw in the second half of a game Nov. 12, 2021.

Braidon Nourse, Sports Editor

What a special summer it has been for Colorado State University athletics and professional sports in Colorado.

Two elite athletes from different CSU sports were drafted over the summer onto professional teams, while other elite athletes who still attend CSU struck deals in the name, image and likeness space. In professional sports in the Denver area, a major championship was won for the first time since the 2015-16 Denver Broncos.

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Next-level Rams

Two Ram legends ended their CSU careers over the summer and accomplished their wildest dreams. Trey McBride — winner of the 2021 John Mackey Award, given to the most outstanding tight end in college football — was taken in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft by the Arizona Cardinals on April 28 with the 55th pick. 

It was a surprise to many that McBride fell to the second round, given that he was arguably the most well-rounded tight end in the draft. Despite falling so far in the draft, he was the first tight end selected on draft weekend.

Star basketball forward David Roddy entered the 2022 NBA draft with more questions than answers. Many of the question marks surrounding the unique prospect centered around when he would be selected. 

Right before the 23rd pick was announced, Roddy was not listed as one of the 10 best remaining players up to that point. Then, with the 23rd pick, Roddy became the first CSU basketball player to be drafted to the NBA since 2013. He was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, who traded the rights to Roddy to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Roddy played in a Grizzlies jersey for the first time during the NBA Summer League, when he averaged 13.6 points and 4.9 rebounds over seven games.

Colorado sports

For the first time since the 2015-16 Broncos, Denver sports fans got to witness a home team championship in major professional sports. The Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in a finals matchup against the two-time defending Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The series went to six games, and the Avalanche won 2-1 at Tampa’s home stadium, securing the rights to lift Lord Stanley.

On the quest to win the Cup for the first time since the 2000-01 season, the Avalanche were the No. 1 seed entering the postseason. In the playoffs, they only lost a total of four games — two against the St. Louis Blues and two against the Lightning. They swept both of their first-round series and the conference finals against the Nashville Predators and the Edmonton Oilers, respectively.

Broncos fans got a first glimpse of their new superstar quarterback in action. Russell Wilson, whom the Broncos acquired back in March, threw the ball in a blue and orange uniform for the first time on July 27, when official team training camp began. Camps have always been open for the public to watch in person, but this season’s camp garnered one of the largest crowds in recent history.

The Denver Nuggets made a roster move of their own over the summer. One of the last remaining pieces the Nuggets need for a championship run (once Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray are healthy, of course) is a wing player who is capable on defense. They went out and got what they needed in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The trade sent former Nuggets guards Will Barton and Monte Morris packing for the Washington Wizards.

Name, image and likeness

July 1 marked one year since NIL rules began to allow college athletes to make money in exchange for their name, image and likeness. Since then, NIL deals involving CSU athletes have been few and far between. However, they’ve been busy over the summer.

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Rams basketball star point guard Isaiah Stevens started the summer off inking a partnership with DeVore Sports Group, according to his Instagram announcement May 2. Just 11 days later, on May 13, Stevens announced his first NIL deal with FanBasis, allowing fans to connect with Stevens through live experiences such as video games and FaceTime.

Soon-to-be star quarterback Clay Millen also inked a partnership with Hal Mumme & Associates, an NIL marketing agency. In addition to this signing, Millen entered a partnership with Krazy Karl’s Pizza and the 1310 KFKA radio station, where he will make appearances on the appropriately named Clay Millen show starting in August.

Reach Braidon Nourse at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @BraidonNourse.