One thing Colorado sports fans absolutely love is seeing Colorado kids, even if that just means attending college in Colorado for a couple of years, going pro, especially in orange in blue. Ty Sambrailo going to the Broncos out of CSU was a big deal in this year’s draft. What is an even bigger deal, is that he will be seeing actual playing time with the team in the upcoming season.

Sambrailo’s spot on the 53-man roster appears more or less written in stone after Ryan Clady tore his ACL, but do other Colorado State (and Colorado State-Pueblo) alums, Shaquil Barrett, Kapri Bibbs, Shelley Smith and Chase Vaughn, have a chance at making the 53-man roster?

Barrett played three seasons for CSU as a linebacker and during his senior year made some noise. He started all 14 games, earning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Mountain West honors. He was ranked No.5 in FBS in tackles for loss with a Mountain West-record 20.5 and was No. 5 FBS in sacks with 12. During his time at CSU, he totaled 246 tackles (116 solo), including 18.0 sacks (-119 yards) and 32.5 tackles for loss (-149). He had three interceptions, seven forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and six pass breakups. Barrett signed with the Broncos as a rookie free agent in May 2014. Barrett currently sits third on the depth chart behind Von Miller and Lerentee McCray, so he’ll need to be explosive in camp and the preseason to find a spot on the final roster.

Bibbs only had one season with the Rams, but it was a very impressive one. He didn’t start until the seventh game of the 2013 season but he made his mark on the school. He was just the third player in CSU football history to be named Walter Camp All-America. Bibbs also received honorable mention All-America from Sports Illustrated and was chosen by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame as the 2013 Male College Athlete of the Year. Bibbs tied for No. 1 in the nation in rushing and total touchdowns (31) and ranked No. 6 in rushing yards (1,741). He signed the same year as Barrett, as a rookie free agent with the Broncos. The logjam at running back came into greater focus during OTAs, where C.J. Anderson emerged as the clear starter; however, Montee Ball wants the job and Ronnie Hillman may still have a spark in him somewhere. Can Bibbs surprise everyone like Anderson has done in the past and make the roster?

Offensive lineman Shelley Smith spent five years at CSU, his senior year he played in only nine games but never missed a conference game. He entered 2009 on the Rotary Lombardi Award watch list, the first CSU player since Erik Pears in 2004 to land on the list. Smith was an honorable-mention all-conference selection, he only allowed two QB hurries on the season, and finished with nearly 50 knockdown blocks in conference play alone. He was drafted in 2010 by the Houston Texans in the sixth round. Smith has the benefit of both having played for Kubiak and playing a major position of need for the Broncos.

From the Colorado State down south, CSU-P, last but not least, there is Vaughn. When he was there, he was the school’s all-time sack leader (15.5). Vaughn has had some extensive history with football. He has played Indoor Football League with the Colorado Ice in 2011, the United Football League for the Las Vegas Locomotives 2010-12, the Canadian Football League for the Calgary Stampeders in 2012 and Arena Football League for the Spokane Shock in 2013. Vaughn walked away from a non-football job to give it one last try with the Broncos.

Last year while working a day job at National Jewish Health, he got a call from the Broncos for an invitation at training camp. Things started to look up from there however, before Denver’s first exhibition game, Vaughn noticed some swelling in his right knee on the bus ride back from a practice at the team’s stadium. He ended up having a torn PCL and stopped his NFL career right in his tracks. However, he was lucky enough to get cleared by the end of December and sign a future contract with Denver. Now his stance with the Broncos is uncertain with the movement of coaches, but he has proved himself before and he may have to do it again.

Now out of those four, will any of them join Sambrailo on the sacred 53-man roster? Even if any of these players don’t end up as one of the 53, the practice squad is where many good football players have found their way into the league. Who knows if this will be the dominate year of the Rams on the first team, but they are waiting in the wings with great skills and determination.

So, which of these Colorado State alums has the best chance of making the 53-man roster?


Sabrina Naccarato, a Mile High Sports intern and MSU-Denver student, contributed to this report