Monday marked the first day of spring. Tuesday marked the beginning of spring football for the Colorado State Rams.

The Rams had their first practice of the spring on Tuesday afternoon, and two of the three running backs that made up the monster that was Colorado State’s backfield in 2016 hit the ground running.

Redshirt senior Dalyn Dawkins and junior Izzy Matthews were on the field on Tuesday while sophomore Marvin Kinsey Jr. continues to rehab from the torn ACL he suffered during a practice prior to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl back in December.

Colorado State’s trio of backs had quite the 2016 campaign. Dawkins, Matthews and Kinsey Jr. combined to rush for 2,199 yards. All three rushed for over 500 yards and scored at least three touchdowns; making Colorado State the only team in the nation with three running backs to do so.

With three running backs on the roster worthy of the starting spot, Dawkins admitted that there was a competition in the running back room. Instead of looking at it as competing for the starting spot, though, the backs look at the competition in a different light.

“It’s really competing to get better,” Dawkins said following Colorado State’s first spring practice. “Competing to get better so we can get better as a team.”

According to Matthews, a crowded running back room isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“We’ve got five running backs in the room right now that really know what they’re doing,” Matthews said. “So everyone is out there going full-tilt, and when everyone is going full-tilt and they know what they’re doing, it just pushes everyone out there to be better.”

Matthews ran for 734 yards and scored a team-high 13 rushing touchdowns in 2016. While Matthews led the team in rushing touchdowns, Dawkins lead the team in yards with 919 while adding four touchdowns of his own. Kinsey ran for 546 yards, the seventh-most by a true freshman at Colorado State, and scored seven touchdowns before sustaining the knee injury that would end his season one game early.

Colorado State’s three-headed monster put up those numbers behind an offensive line that saw four of its five starters receive All-Mountain West honors. The Rams are returning second team All-Mountain West center in redshirt senior Jake Bennett and redshirt junior tackle Zack Golditch. Despite returning only two starters on the offensive line, neither Matthews or Dawkins believe that the running back’s will experience a drop-off in their production in 2017.

“We lost some great guys from last year but we’ve got great guys coming in,” Matthews said of the offensive line. “I think it’s going to be honestly a step up from last year with how much better we’re knowing the offense.”

Dawkins and Matthews don’t just believe the running backs are going to have an even better year than they did in 2016, they believe that something special is in the air.

“It’s going to be a special year from that room,” Matthews said. “The last two years were pretty good, but this one’s going to be special. I just have a feeling.”

“It definitely will be,” Dawkins said. “This is my senior year, my last go around. I’m going to make sure of it.”