As the Colorado State football team heads into its Week 3 matchup against Northern Colorado Saturday at Hughes Stadium, CSU coaches are still hot on the recruiting trail with the early signing period coming in November.
CSU’s offer list consists of a good balance of prep standouts and junior college players, some of whom could be here as early as January if they opt for early graduation. One of the biggest areas head coach Mike Bobo targeted in the Class of 2016 was the defensive secondary, a place CSU will again look to add talent to after signees Devron Davis, Chris Gaston and Dom Williams never made it to campus. While Davis signed with UTSA, both Williams and Gaston could possibly be re-recruited by CSU if their academic requirements are completed.
As football season finally gets into full swing, here’s a look at 12 of Colorado State’s most important targets and what they’ve done on the field this year.
Tancey Richardson — South Aiken (SC) HS — 3*
A one-time South Carolina commit, Richardson has been high on the Rams for quite some time now, listing them as one of his top schools. Tancey confirmed to InsideTheRams.com that he will take an official visit to CSU this season, but has not decided on a date yet.
The 3-star athlete has starred all over the field for South Aiken, recording 21 tackles, one interception and a forced fumble on defense while adding eight catches for 141 yards and three touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball. CSU coaches have talked to him about the possibility of playing both ways and also on special teams as a kick and punt returner.
Along with CSU, Richardson has offers from Mississippi State, Kent State, Coastal Carolina and Southern Miss, but told InsideTheRams.com that CSU stands out as the favorite right now. Both USC and Ole Miss have shown interest in Richardson, but are yet to offer.
Benjamin Knox — Independence CC — 2*
The former 4-star offensive lineman and South Florida transfer could be a steal for CSU if the Rams are able to get him to Fort Collins. Now at Independence (KS) CC, Knox is all of 6-foot-6 and close to 290 pounds, giving him ideal size to play tackle at the Division I level.
Knox initially committed to Florida during high school, but opted to flip his commitment to South Florida not long after. After an off-field incident at USF, Knox opted to transfer to the junior college level, where he’ll play one season this fall before signing.
He visited Colorado State this summer and has received offers from the Rams, San Diego State and Arkansas State.
Tyrell Thompson — DT — Trinity Valley CC — 3*
Thompson is a beast on interior, standing 6-foot-4 and weighing in close to 300 pounds. CSU has struggled mightily to recruit defensive tackles with Thompson’s combination of size and speed, but the Rams are in contention for his signature.
A native of Copperas Cove, Texas, Thompson holds offers from CSU, Colorado, Houston and Oklahoma State, among others. Originally slated to attend Houston after high school, Thompson failed to qualify academically and went the junior college route, but has since added more offers.
“I have quick feet, I’m really fast that’s my strongest point,” Thompson told BuffStampede.com. “My feet are good and my hands are strong, powerful hands. My retrace is what helps me out a lot. If someone runs a screen I can go run it down. Doesn’t matter if it’s 20 yards down the field, I’ll still be in the line of pitch to run it down. That’s what I like doing.”
With CSU’s lack of depth at defensive tackle this year, inking a signature from Thompson could be a huge step forward for CSU defensively.
Sam Crawford — WR — Rockwall (TX) HS — 4*
Despite being ranked as the 12th-best wideout in the state of Texas, Crawford has yet to garner any Power Five offers, listing CSU, Navy, Nevada, Texas State, South Florida and Tulane as his top six schools back in late June.
As a junior last season, Crawford totaled 1,816 all-purpose yards and 17 touchdowns while playing wide receiver, running back and kick returner. Crawford projects as a wideout at the next level, and could see immediate playing time next season with CSU’s need for playmakers on the perimeter.
Jean Eason — OL — City College of San Francisco — 2*
Though he has had an unconventional path to college football, Eason would be a solid addition to the Rams’ offensive line as someone who can come in next season and compete for the open guard positions.
A 6-foot-3, 290-pound offensive lineman, Eason actually spent the last five years as a soldier in the United States Army before returning to school and football this past year. Despite Eason’s time away from football, Mike Bobo and his staff have been impressed by what they’ve seen from Eason, choosing to offer him this summer.
He also holds offers from Old Dominion, Cincinnati, Georgia State and Idaho. Eason was extremely impressed with CSU’s new on-campus stadium project on his visit and will look to make his commitment later this season.
Ramon Patton — S — Jones County (MS) JC — 2*
Though not yet rated, Patton has seen his recruitment heat up recently, including an offer from Pac-12 contender Utah this past week. In all, Patton holds 12 offers, with CSU, Utah State, Western Kentucky and Tulane showing the most interest right now.
At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Patton is an ideal-sized safety that can come up and play in the box as an extra linebacker or drop in coverage. The Rams are relatively young at the safety position with no seniors in either spot, but they’d love to add a ready-to-play junior college stud like Patton.
Malik Horton — OLB — Langston Hughes (GA) HS — 3*
Linebacker is one of Colorado State’s deepest and most talented positions this season, but the addition of Horton, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound tackling machine would be one of CSU’s biggest coups in the 2017 class.
Horton, who transferred to Langston Hughes from Fayetteville, North Carolina, holds offers from Vanderbilt, Maryland, Louisville, Toledo and in-state rival Colorado. Horton visited Boulder during the program’s recruiting barbecue in July and will visit the Terps this fall.
He has not set an official visit with CSU.
Kelton Dawson — DE — Stockbridge (GA) HS — 3*
One of the biggest things Colorado State has lacked in the past half-dozen years is a dominant pass rusher from the defensive end spot. Linebacker Cory James had a lot of success in Marty English’s 3-4 scheme as a pass rusher, but the Rams have struggled mightily to put pressure on the quarterback in non-blitz situations for a while now.
Dawson, already 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, could be a terrific pass rusher at the Division I level if he can translate his success in high school to the college game. He holds 18 offers, including Colorado State, Kentucky, Purdue, Appalachian State and Central Florida.
Keisean Nixon — CB — Western Arizona JC — 3*
Originally slated to announce his commitment Aug. 1 after his visit to Fort Collins, Nixon has indefinitely delayed his decision after receiving offers from Kentucky and Missouri. He has not yet set visits to the two SEC schools, but will visit Iowa State Sept. 24.
With CSU’s inexperience in the secondary, along with the departures of both Jordon Vaden and Tyree Simmons after this season, Nixon would have a chance to step in and compete for the starting cornerback spot immediately should he sign with the Rams in December.
Nixon has also been told by CSU coaches that he could see action on the offensive side of the ball and in the return game.
Jalen Jackson — OG — Grayson (GA) HS — 3*
The 6-foot-2, 280-pound Jackson attends the same high school as current CSU starting guard Fred Zerblis, and the Rams are hopeful they can get the same production out of another Grayson High standout.
Jackson has seen his recruitment heat up recently, and he holds a total of 18 offers, with West Virginia, Wake Forest and Colorado State headlining the group. Offensive coordinator Will Friend and head coach Mike Bobo have done a good job of creating depth up front, but will lose both Zerblis and Paul Thurston to graduation after this season.
Braylon Sanders — WR — Callaway (GA) HS — 4*
Sanders could truly be the gem of CSU’s 2017 recruiting class if Bobo and Co. can get him to Fort Collins, but they’ll have to fight off Georgia, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, all of whom made Sanders’ top four schools along with CSU this summer.
Rated as the No. 45 wideout nationally by Scout, Sanders would be the biggest recruit the Rams have landed out of high school in quite a while if they are able to secure his services.
According to Scout’s evaluation of him, “Sanders is a natural athlete with speed and fluidity. He is a star on the basketball court, and he actually may be better there than he is in football in high school, but his ceiling is highest on the gridiron. As a wide receiver, he is made to play slot. He is right at 6-feet with good length and very good quickness in short space. He is quick off the line and quick out of his cuts.”
He has yet to visit Colorado State, but the Rams remain in contention for his signature come Signing Day.
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InsideTheRams.com Digital Editor Keegan Pope can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.