National Signing Day 2010: Colorado State Inks Offensive Weapons
The Pro Bowl. The Super Bowl. The Olympic Games. These are the major sporting events occupying most of the sports headlines across the country, but next to National Signing Day, they all pale in comparison.
What is National Signing Day, you naively ask? It’s the first day high school seniors across the United States who hold scholarship offers to play football at NCAA schools have an opportunity to sign their Letters of Intent.
I see it as Christmas, my birthday along with the temporarily donated seven days of Hanukkah from my Jewish friends, all wrapped up into what is, by far, the best day of the year.
As a recruiting analyst for a Rivals.com partner site, I have the great opportunity to scout, evaluate and get to know a lot of football recruits across the country year after year, which is part of the reason why I love National Signing Day so deeply. But this year is special because of what we’re seeing in our own backyard here in Fort Collins –– it’s a recruiting revolution.
For a moment, disregard the 3-9 record the Colorado State football team had in 2009. Somehow, Steve Fairchild and company have been able to gather what is, on paper, the best recruiting class in CSU Rams history. For you fans out there, this just goes to show how much believe these players have in the direction Fairchild will take CSU in the next two to three years.
Without further adieu, I’d like to start looking at some of the top offensive prospects the Rams have signed and take a further look at how they could benefit the program.
I have to start with the obvious one here, Pete Thomas. The 6-foot-5, 220 pound gunslinger is the first four-star recruiting CSU has landed out of high school since fullback Tristan Walker in 2002. As a senior in 2009, he passed for nearly 2,400 yards and 26 touchdowns.
A big complaint some folks have of Thomas is that he doesn’t move a lot and just looks like stone sitting in the pocket. I don’t see it. If you look closely, while he doesn’t do a lot of “bobbing” with his body like most QB’s do to stay in rhythm, he very quickly shuffles his feet, allowing him to take off if needed at a moment’s notice –– it’s just his personal style.
Thomas is already on campus at CSU and will be participating in spring practice, trying to compete for a starting job as a true freshman in 2010. We’ll see how long it takes him to learn the system, but he has an excellent chance to be under center when the Rams kickoff at INVESCO Field in September.
CSU also landed Top 25 quarterback Garrett Grayson from the Portland, Ore., area. Grayson, a dual-threat QB, could grayshirt to save eligibility depending on how Thomas performs this spring.
Assuming Tony Drake qualifies for Colorado State, the Rams will have two Top 10 running backs from their respective classes eligible to play next season. Drake is ranked as the No. 8 all-purpose running back in the country and decided at the last minute to drop his commitment to Michigan, which he held for almost a year, and come to Fort Collins. He's an explosive runner, much like current Ram Lou Greenwood, with good speed at 4.4, even if he's not the biggest guy on the field (5-foot-9, 172 pounds). It will be interesting to see if he redshirts due to the log jam the Rams have at the top of their depth chart at running back.
The main two guys to watch out for are James Boone and Josh “Jay” James.
As for Boone, he’s a player who really liked the Rams ever since watching them defeat Colorado in the Rocky Mountain Showdown and stuck with CSU despite receiving a late push from Mississippi State. He’s definitely a kid Ram fans want to see in Green and Gold as he has 4.45 speed and had over 1,000 receiving the past two seasons. Plus, I personally like his story as he lived in a not-so-great New York neighborhood before moving to Florida in eighth grade on his way to become a football star.
James is more of a prototypical wide receiver and better size if he were to play in the slot at 6-foot-3, 221 pounds with 4.46 speed. He’s the younger brother of current CSU defensive end C.J. James. He could be moved to linebacker or safety by the time his college career is over.
Maybe it’s just because I love the tight end position almost as much as running back (us Oklahomans love the hardnosed guys), but Crockett Gillmore and Kivon Cartwright are two of my favorite recruits in this class.
Cartwright is going to be that guy everyone hopes is the next Kory Sperry. Why? Because he’s from Pueblo! He missed most of his senior year with an injury to his patella, but told me he’s back at 100 percent. He’s a receiver-style tight end and has been called by some high school coaches across the state as Colorado’s best-kept secret.
Gillmore is the more physical of the two tight ends in the class. A three-star prospect, he’s 6-foot-6, 226 pounds and played wide receiver for his Bushland, Texas high school’s spread offense last year where he had 1,142 yards and 22 touchdowns on only 43 receptions. He does like to block, however, and the last time I talked to him two weeks ago he said he was 18-0 as a wrestler this season in Texas’s 215 weight class.
Stay tuned, as I'll look at the stars of the defensive signings soon.
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