In Fort Collins “RB” stands for “real battle.”
Competition is a buzz word around football teams. Most coaches simply say they have competition at every position, even if they know some spots are already won.
Mike Bobo, though, preaches competition and lets it all play out for the better of his team.
In FoCo, we’re one day away from fall camp commencing, and while the quarterback battle is one everyone is excited about – pitting newcomer Faton Bauta versus incumbent Nick Stevens – running back is set to be the fiercest competition for Colorado State.
That’s because there will be a great number of brilliant backs behind Bauta/Stevens.
Rams fans remember Dalyn Dawkins, the former Purdue transfer who’s getting ready to lace ’em up for his senior season at CSU. Dawkins shiftiness allows him to find yards in open space, especailly outside the tackles, and he finishes runs off with ferocity. What some remember most, though, are his untimely fumbles last season. Still, he’ll be a factor.
But Rams Nation is most excited to see Izzy Matthews, the sophomore who ran wild as a freshman last year. Nicknamed “The Closer” for his timely insertion late into games, Matthews utilized fresh legs while running through opponents for 590 yards and five touchdowns.
Matthews appears to have slimmed down slightly in search of extra speed, which was a little lacking last season. Although, when I talked to him and Coach Bobo during spring ball, the head coach said Matthews must block with more consistency to become a three-down back. The sophomore agreed, which is why he’s been working hard in the offseason to be a more astute blocker in the pass game.
Izzy is the odds-on favorite to win the starting job, but, there are four more young men just stepping onto campus with eyes on earning carries for the Rams this season.
Those four are Darius May, Rashaad Boddie, Marvin Kinsey Jr. and Detrich Clark, with the latter of the them being classified as an “athlete” who will likely see action in all kinds of aspects of the game (See: Running, receiving and returning).
A New Orleans native, May, who’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, hits the hole with excellent explosion and then finishes off runs with top-notch speed. His lack of hesitation as he hits the line of scrimmage means few defenders have a chance at even making a play on him. Then, he utilizes strong body control to run around opponents with relative ease.
Boddie is more of a beastly back, tipping the scales at 220 pounds, though his versatility can’t be denied. His north-sound running style allows him to break away from defenders and he looks to have soft hands in the receiving game, too.
Everyone knows speed kills. The Rams landed a player with deadly jets in Kinsey, especially when you give him the ball on a toss outside and allow him to get up to full speed. His toughness and desire to run through tackles is there, too (seen in his senior year highlight tape). Last season alone, he rushed for 1,468 yards and 14 touchdowns at Riverwood High School in Sandy Springs, Ga.
Finally, there’s the JUCO transfer, Clark. He’s listed as a receiver on his Hudl page, but Clark can seemingly do it all thanks to larger-than-life speed for the smallish (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) young man. He ran a ton of read-option as the quarterback and then kept the ball for giant gains and touchdowns. In fact, he ran for 1,019 yards and 10 TDs in 2015 alone. Don’t be surprised if Colorado State puts him in the backfield to carry the ball from time to time. Besides that, he can act as a receiver or be utilized in the kick return game. When I asked Bobo at the end of spring ball who would be his return man with Deionte Gaines departed, the coach said he expects it to be one of the guys who arrives in the fall. My money’s on Clark.
So, there you have it. Dawkins, Matthews, May, Boddie, Kinsey, Clark and there are others – like Bryce Peters – on the roster as well who also have a shot.
How will one of them earn the starting job and how will the rest of them fall in line? By performing consistently starting early Thursday morning and throughout camp. CSU fall camp kicks off at 7 a.m.