A lot has happened with the Colorado State athletic department the last few weeks. A new Athletic Director and new head football coach have given fans much to discuss and look forward to in the coming years. The swirl has slowed, and the nitty gritty grind of day-to-day work of recruiting athletes to fill the roster is back to task.
While watching numerous holiday movies on TV, and looking at a number of prospects on radar made me think of something out of the holiday movie classic, A Christmas Story. When Ralphie’s father, played by Darren McGavin is reading the sports page he reacts to a trade the Chicago White Sox made.
"The Sox traded Bullfrog, their best player, for Shottenhoffen. 4-eyes Shottenhoffen, a utility infielder. They’ve got a whole team of utility infielders.”
I wonder if the Rams desire to fit certain athletes into positions might leave us with a whole team of Shottenhoffens. It’s no secret that CSU, even during the season, scouting and offering several junior college receivers. Getting an impact receiver is something that Steve Fairchild certainly recognized as a need. In trying to fill a need, however, it maybe easy to take a shotgun approach. Filling a need, however, may leave other positions short of adequate depth.
Coach McElwain will basically have three weeks to fill his recruiting class. With four known commitments, and three known greyshirts, CSU will still have 8 to 10 scholarships left to offer. The new staff may play a big role in filling those scholarships based on their existing recruiting and prospect ties. A number of coaching changes across the country has left a lot of prospects wondering how things will shake out.
One of the most interesting things for CSU is what will happen on the defensive side of the ball. I think Ram fans have basic understanding that McElwain will still run some variant of a pro-style offense, but on defense this question will be to stay in a 4-3 front, or shift to a 3-4 base. The two biggest keys for establishing a base 3-4 defense is having pass rushers who can also play in space (see Joey Porter), and big defensive linemen to eat blocks freeing linebackers to make plays. With Nordly Capi, Broderick Sargent, Brent Williams, Davis Burl, in addition to a good blitzing Mike Orakpo, the linebacker situation would seem to be obtainable to play in a 3-4 set. CJ James did play some linebacker in high school, but really fits a 4-3 defensive end position.
The line, however, is a bit more of a puzzle. Only freshman Justin Hansen is listed above 275lb on the current roster for defensive lineman. Perhaps Colton Paulhus, Zach Tiedgen, Curtis Wilson, Te’Jay Brown, Charles Green, John Froland, and in time Joe Kawulok, can man defensive end spots in a 3-4, but at present none really look like a 3-4 nose tackle. A big nose tackle is key to keep the middle backers free to make plays. The logical conclusion is that if a 3-4 defense is in the plans for 2012 a nose tackle will need to be added.
There may be a few possibilities at the high school level that CSU has been recruiting such as Ashton Henderson of Jenks, OK, or Max Tejada of Jacksonville, FL. However, both would need a year or two to truly be ready to play. The next logical step it to look at the juco ranks for help. Since the early signing period for fall graduates is passed, the picking will be a bit slimmer, but there may still be a few candidates left.
Zian Jones, West Los Angeles CC. Has Syracuse offer, at 325lb fits the bill for a nose tackle.
Kevin Laudermill , West Los Angeles CC. Visits set to EMU, Howard, and NMST.
Chris Brown, Scottsdale CC. Was on Alabama’s radar, but maybe on Mike Leach’s now.
Mike Pennel, Scottsdale CC. Grandview HS graduate was committed to Arkansas, but recently had a change of heart. WSU is becoming a possibility.
Fred Lavulo, Cerritos CC. Solid season netted all-conference honors, and D1 interest.
Roland Johnson Butler CC. Played at national high school power Byrnes in South Carolina, visit to MTSU, and interest from Minnesota.
Chaquil Reed, Butler CC. Had an offer from Turner Gill’s staff at Kansas, now possibly in limbo.
Xavier Melton, Butler CC, Other third of the Butler trio, signed with Purdue out of high school and fits the size requirements.
This may not be a complete list as there are always a number junior college players that fall through the cracks each year. For now though, McElwain and the rest of the Rams will have to wait until signing day before opening all the presents under the recruiting tree.