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Spring camp: Continuity, depth have Rams in unfamiliar position

Sophomore+Caleb+Goodie+%2886%29+reaches+to+catch+the+ball+before+being+tackled+at+a+spring+football+practice.
Collegian | Cait Mckinzie
Sophomore Caleb Goodie (86) reaches to catch the ball before being tackled at a Colorado State University spring football practice April 6.

With so many familiar faces attending spring ball, Colorado State football is in a position different from years past.

A year ago, spring camp was a way to familiarize a lot of the new faces with one another. Clay Millen took the starter reps, most of the offensive line hadn’t taken a snap in a Rams uniform and the lengthy list of transfers was starting to arrive at Canvas Stadium.

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This year’s spring camp is quite the opposite. The Rams are returning most of their offensive line, Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi and Tory Horton get a chance to build on the chemistry they’ve already developed and now the Rams get to focus on some of the more technical things.

“In this day of transfers and all this talk about (name, image and likeness) and all this, football is still a game of continuity and experience,” coach Jay Norvell said. “We got eight starters back on offense, we got seven on defense, all our kickers and returners are back and we just believe that continuity is going to start building on itself, and we’re going to continue to build our program that way.”

Not every team gets the luxury of having so many returning players, but thanks to that, the Rams get to look at some of their depth that they might not otherwise have gotten the chance to see.

One of the players who has been impressive over camp is sophomore wide receiver Caleb Goodie. He looks like he belongs taking reps with the ones and was even the recipient of several big-play balls from Fowler-Nicolosi.

“I hope every single one of our receivers has the goal of being the guy,” Fowler-Nicolosi said. “I could see Caleb playing a huge part if he continues to grow and get better, just like all of our other receivers (who) make plays when you need them to.”

The Rams’ receiving room is stacked. Horton is obviously the No. 1 option, but behind him, Justus Ross-Simmons, Dylan Goffney, Donovan Ollie and two of the Ram’s highest-rated recruits ever — Landon Bell and Jordan Ross — will all battle alongside Goodie for playing time.

Having that depth and uniqueness among personnel not only allows Norvell to open up his playbook more, but it also gives the Rams insurance if anyone were to go down with injuries.

“I’m a believer in continuity, and I’m a believer in bringing in kids and working with them for several years,” Norvell said. “And obviously, the transfer is part of football now, and everybody’s dealing with it, but it’s a much better situation when you have kids for multiple years and you can continue to work with them.”

That depth will be crucial, especially as the Rams look to establish a better running game this season.

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The backfield was where the Rams got hit with the injuries the most. Avery Morrow sat for some time, Kobe Johnson was out most of the year and the Rams leaned on guys like walk-on Vann Schield and first-year Justin Marshall.

While Marshall certainly impressed, his breakout now clogs the Rams’ backfield with talent.

“They have a lot of good backs back there, and their offensive line has done a really good job blocking (and) scheming up some of their runs,” CSU linebacker Buom Jock said. “For someone like me that’s in the box, you see a lot of different things.”

Jock is one of the exceptions to the returning starters.

Even though he wasn’t a starter last season, Jock was still able to find ways onto the field. His breakout game came against Boise State, when he totaled nine tackles and recovered a fumble.

“For me, it’s really knowing the defense (and) getting comfortable in what I’m doing,” Jock said. “I’m really stepping into a bigger role this year. … Getting reps last year really helped me.”

Saturday’s scrimmage was the first of three scrimmages, with the finale being the Green vs. Gold Spring Game. And by far, one of the biggest things to watch will be the development of Fowler-Nicolosi.

So far, things have shaped up nicely.

“I was talking to coach (Matt) Mumme before practice he gave me a word: It was dominate,” Fowler-Nicolosi said. “Leave no question, and I think the … offense made that very clear today. I don’t think there was even a question.”

Reach Damon Cook at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @dwcook2001.

Interested in more sports content? Sign up for Ram Report here for weekly CSU sports updates!

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About the Contributor
Damon Cook
Damon Cook, Sports Editor
Damon Cook is the 2023-24 sports editor for the The Collegian and has been at the paper since August 2022. He started doing coverage on volleyball and club sports before moving onto the women's basketball beat. He is in his third year and is completing his degree with a major in journalism and media communication and a minor in sports management. As The Collegian's sports editor, Cook reports on CSU sports and helps manage the sports desk and content throughout the week. After having a year to learn and improve, Cook will now get to be part of a new age under the sports desk. The desk moved on from all but one other person and will now enter into a new era. Damon started school as a construction management major looking to go in a completely different direction than journalism. After taking the year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, he quickly realized that construction wasn't for him. With sports and writing as passions, he finally decided to chase his dreams, with The Collegian helping him achieve that. He is most excited to bring the best and most in-depth sports coverage that The Collegian can provide.

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