For a decade, Colorado State has been known as “WRU” and Tory Horton is continuing that legacy.

Look back in the record books to 2013, when Jim McElwain was the head coach in Fort Collins, and Rashard Higgins started to delight Ram Nation. The next year, Higgins came up second in the Biletnikoff Award for top receiver in the nation, with Amari Cooper winning it all. His 1,750 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns both led the nation that year as Higgins was named a consensus All-American.

Then it was Michael Gallup in 2016-17 who easily surpassed 1,000 receiving yards each year, including 14 TDs in 2016. And Preston Williams followed in 2018 (1,385 yards, 14 TDs).

Fast forward to today and Horton has already left an indelible mark on the Colorado State football history books.

After spending his first two years with head coach Jay Norvell in Nevada, Horton followed Norvell to Fort Collins last year. And in 2022, the junior wideout went off.

Horton caught 71 passes for 1,131 yards and 8 touchdowns last season, easily leading CSU and being the clear-cut MVP on the third-worst offensive team in the nation. For all of his tremendous efforts, Horton earned First-Team All-Mountain West Conference in 2022.

And considering the long list of former Rams in the NFL — or Next Level Rams — Horton certainly could have tested the NFL Draft waters this year. Instead, he decided to come back to Colorado State for his senior season, a decision he discussed with Brian Roth recently.

“It was always the plan to come back,” Horton explained to Roth. “My mom always preached about going and getting my degree. So it’s always been first. I love this team, I love this group of guys and the coaching staff. So, I didn’t want to go out on a bad note.”

While Horton earned personal accolades, the Rams were 129th (of 131 teams) in scoring, at a mere 13.2 points per game. Wildly, the receiver scored 8-of-12 offensive touchdowns for the Rams last year, which is two-thirds of their total.

Ultimately, though, the team went a sad 3-9 overall in a transitional year. Norvell came over to Colorado State in December of 2021 and brought with him a bunch of former Nevada players. Adding those guys to the holdovers from Steve Addazio’s last year made it difficult to truly compete right away.

But with spring football, hope springs eternal in Fort Collins.

Horton was a one-man show offensively last year, however, there’s hope the many young guys surrounding him will step up and the entire offense will take off. It is the Air Raid Offense, after all, so big-time passing numbers are to be expected.

Justus Ross-Simmons was second to Horton in receptions (26), yards (424) and touchdowns (3) last season, and he should be able to take a step forward. And while there are many other young receivers from last year, the Rams also added 11 new wideouts as part of their 2023 class. So, it was clear Norvell targeted that spot, looking for athletic young men to compliment Horton, as well as the offensive line and running back positions.

“I want to leave a standard for the guys coming up,” Horton told Roth. “We’re on track to getting to that standard.”

Norvell and Co. didn’t come to Fort Collins to flounder. The Rams, with the second-best recruiting class in the Mountain West, are looking to compete at a much higher and more consistent level than they have in years.

Spring football was supposed to kick off last Saturday, but a surprise snow storm pushed it back to Monday. Then, another snow day closed Colorado State University campus, with the team finally getting onto the practice field on Tuesday this week.

“It’s great,” he told Roth about getting on the field. “Of course we had our snow days and stuff, so we’ve been anxious to get back out there. And to get running around with the helmets.”

The first week of spring practices wraps up this Saturday with the annual Green and Gold Spring Game set for Saturday, April 22 with a 1 p.m. MDT kickoff. All practices are free and open to the public, with the schedule below.

2023 Colorado State Football spring practice schedule.