April 5, 2011

On the Matt: Don't touch this

Like all college football teams, the Colorado State Rams have had their bouts with injuries over the years, sometimes having key players go down, other times lucking out by staying healthy.

This week On the Matt, I take a look at the players CSU cannot afford to get injured in the upcoming 2012 season.

Pete Thomas, quarterback (sophomore)

I think it's safe to say that CSU got lucky in 2010 by keeping its freshman starting quarterback healthy all season. However, had Thomas gotten injured, the Rams had a backup in redshirt freshman Nico Ranieri who already had a year in the program learning the system.

CSU won't be as fortunate in 2012.

The Rams' current second string signal caller is walk-on M.J. McPeek, who started his career at Kansas State - also as a walk-on. Dual-threat quarterback Garrett Grayson is now working out with the team as a grayshirt freshman, but still has a long way to go.

Should Thomas, who finished the 2010 season with the highest completion percentage of any starting freshman quarterback in NCAA history, get hurt next year, it could be another rough go under center for the Rams.

Mychal Sisson, outside linebacker (senior)

Gone are the days of Ricky Brewer, the CSU defense now belongs to its worthy captain, Sisson.

A former freshman all-American, the 5-foot-11, 207-pound Texas native has taken the leadership role in-stride so far this spring, appearing as the most talented and dedicated member of the defense.

Constantly staying on top of his teammates to make sure they stick to their assignments, Sisson has told me that he thinks this team will perform even better than it did when he was a freshman and the Rams won the New Mexico Bowl.

A former high school safety, Sisson led the nation in forced fumbles in 2010 and was second on the team in tackles with 93. His speed is a crucial part of the Rams' linebacker unit.

Jake Gdowski, guard (senior)

I know Weston Richburg received a lot of the praise last year as being the best offensive lineman the Rams had, earning freshman All-American status at center, but I still feel like Gdowski made the biggest impact.

Dominating the weakside guard position, Gdowski started all 12 games in 2010 and brought forth a veteran attitude to a young offensive line.

Though he's currently battling injuries during spring ball, I really feel like Gdowski is the key to the CSU front five in 2011, that should be miles ahead of where it was a year ago. Also, expect him to be elected a captain by his teammates once again.

Chris Nwoke, running back (sophomore)

Say what you will about Raymond Carter, but after watching the progression of Nwoke over two years at the college level, I feel it's the lesser recruiting Centennial State native, not the former four-star UCLA transfer, who's poised to have a breakout year for CSU in 2011.

Nwoke's game just keeps getting better and better, whether that means finding holes, breaking tackles or running routes out of the backfield; although, he could work on making his hands a little softer for receptions.

He showed last year that he had what it takes to be a starting running back for the Rams, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

It has been a while since I've seen a running back adapt so quickly to the college game. If Nwoke can just hold on to the football, he could become a star.

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