At 7 a.m. Friday, the new-look Colorado State football team will take the field for its first practice of the summer under first-year head coach Jay Norvell.
It will be the first of 20 preseason practices that run until Aug. 27, with the team’s season opener set for Sept. 4 at Michigan.
Mixed into those 20 practices will be scrimmages on Aug. 10 and 17. The team will close its summer camp with a mock game Aug. 27.
Here are a few players to watch as the team prepares for the upcoming season.
There are almost 60 new faces on this years’ squad. Many are freshmen, but a good number are transfers.
Not surprisingly, several came through the transfer portal from Nevada, Norvell’s previous home.
Here are four who could make an impact this season.
Clay Millen, QB: Millen only appeared in two games as a true freshman for the Wolf Pack last season, but was a four-star recruit out of high school. His junior year, he passed for over 3,000 yards and 34 touchdowns with just one interception. He also rushed for 273 yards and five touchdowns. His senior season was limited to only two games due to the pandemic, but he passed for 435 yards and six touchdowns. Of the four quarterbacks on the Rams’ roster going into camp, he is the only one with any college experience, despite it being in only two games.
Melquan Stovall, WR: Stovall finished last season at Nevada with 56 catches for 643 yards and one touchdown. He had a long reception of 65 yards and averaged 11.48 yards per catch. In three years with the Wolf Pack, he had 108 catches for 1,064 yards and one score.
Tory Horton, WR: Horton played in 21 games in two seasons at Nevada, where he had 72 receptions for 995 yards and 10 touchdowns. He had four receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns the final week of the regular season at Colorado State.
CJ Onyechi, DL: Another fifth-year senior, Onyechi comes to CSU from Rutgers, where he had 87 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in five seasons. He played in 43 games, including 15 starts.
The Rams do have some returning players, with many of the big names on the defensive side of the ball.
Here are just a few, all seniors, who hope to have big seasons under new defensive coordinator Freddie Banks and Norvell.
Cam’Ron Carter, LB: A fifth-year senior, Carter played in all 12 games for the Rams last season, totaling 101 tackles and six sacks. He also had an interception, a fumble recovery and 7.5 tackles for loss.
Tywan Francis, DB: Another fifth-year senior, Francis played in 11 games last year and ended the season with 89 tackles and one sack. He also forced a fumble and had 2.5 tackles for loss.
Mohamed Kamara, DL: Kamara played in all 12 games for the Rams last season. The senior had 37 tackles and 7.5 sacks. He also had 9.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble.
David Bailey, RB: A fifth-year senior, Bailey returns to the Rams after rushing 197 times for 753 yards last season. He played in 11 of CSU’s 12 games, averaging 3.8 yards per carry and scoring nine touchdowns. He had a career best 30 carries for 132 carries against Toledo.
Players to “Watch”
A few Rams have been named to preseason watch lists entering summer workouts.
Lou Groza Award: Senior placekicker Cayden Camper has been named to the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award watch list.
The Groza Award is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate placekicker, named after the NFL Hall of Fame kicker, who played 21 seasons with the Cleveland Browns.
Camper was a 2021 Groza Award semifinalist after he set the CSU record with 25 field goals made on the season. Included in the total was a school- and Mountain West-record 6-for-6 game in a win over San Jose State, which included his season-best from 53 yards. He had one game where he made four field goals and two others where he made five.
Overall, Camper finished 25-of-32 on his attempts and connected on all 27 of his extra-point tries.
Chuck Bednarik Award: Senior linebacker Dequan Jackson has been named to the preseason watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award.
The Bednarik Award, named after the former All-American at the University of Pennsylvania who later became an NFL All-Pro linebacker for Philadelphia, is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate defender.
Jackson has been a second-team All-Mountain West selection during his career. He enters the 2022 season with 219 tackles, including 21 tackles for loss and four and a half sacks. He has also recovered four fumbles in his career. Slowed by an ankle injury late last season, he still finished the season with 81 tackles and a personal best 8.5 tackles for loss.
Wuerffel Trophy: Senior running back A’Jon Vivens has landed on the Wuerffel Trophy Watch List.
Named after 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel from Florida, the award is presented annually to a player who serves others, celebrating their positive impact on society and inspiring greater service in the world.
Vivens has worked with Homeless Emergency Services, food banks (by donating time and goods), has taken part in the Colon Cancer Awareness Walk, started a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and helping with social justice, organized a safe voting registration event in Denver, hosted food drives for rescue missions, organized a Juneteenth celebration in Denver, worked with numerous Christmas toy drives and volunteered at the Denver Rescue Mission.
Vivens started his CSU career as a wide receiver, but moved to running back. He has 534 rushing yards in his career on 139 carries and a touchdown. He also has 11 receptions for 74 yards. He made his first career start in 2021 against San Jose State, rushing a career-best 31 times for 114 yards.
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