Colorado State is in the market for several offensive tackles this cycle and they finally a got a big one Sunday. Literally.
Ben Knox, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound USF bounce back, picked the Rams over offers from Arkansas State, FIU, Iowa State, New Mexico State, North Texas, San Diego State, and Southern Miss. His pledge gives CSU their first true tackle for the 2017 recruiting class.
Knox had taken an official visit to Colorado State in July and came away impressed. He told InsideTheRams.com last month that CSU led for his signature. However, he intended to take all five official visits before signing his letter of intent in December.
CSU, though, made it clear they wanted him and had a big need at tackle with the graduations of Nick Callender and Christian Montes. CSU head coach Mike Bobo and offensive coordinator and line coach Will Friend continued to up their communication with Knox, which ultimately persuaded Knox to end his recruitment before taking any more visits.
"Coach Bobo, just the attention he shows and their need for tackles. I know I can come in there and play as a junior college guy," Knox said of his commitment. "Also, the way we're getting players to commit and come through, I feel like we'll be a force to be reckoned with next year. Them being bowl eligible again this year and the new stadium (next year), I know should bring in more recruits. He's (Bobo) going to change the program around and he's going to win, and win big."
With this being his second go-around in the recruiting process, Knox wanted to take his time in making a decision. He favored CSU since the summer and the Rams remained in constant contact with Knox.
Seeing CSU put up 412 rushing yards against the nation's top rushing team last night pushed him over the top in realizing CSU was where he wanted to be.
"I watched some of the New Mexico game and their running game. They were fighting for that Bowl. They had to beat some good teams that were close to winning that conference. They beat them and got bowl eligible," Knox said.
He was clear that the future of CSU's program was a big reason for his commitment. The foundation of his decision, though, came down to his relationship with Bobo and Friend.
"The relationship I had with Coach Friend and Coach Bobo, I had a relationship with the head coach, and the offensive coordinator is my position coach, and I had a relationship with him, too. Ultimately, I've known these guys and all these other schools, I'm talking to their recruiting coach over everything. Like, it was the running backs coach, safeties coach, or someone like that. I know these guys (Friend and Bobo) personally and met with these guys. It's the head coach and my position coach and I know them personally and I like the way they are. I like how they've given me attention and how they show that they need me. Once I get there, I know I can play. So that being said, I might as well go to Colorado State," Knox explained.
Knox certainly has the size and college experience to come in right away and make an impact at tackle. It remains unclear whether he will play right or left tackle. CSU likes his athleticism and aggressiveness, which are big attributes Friend likes in his linemen.
His length is also a big asset, as he can lock up defenders and bully them downfield. His combination of skills and measurables made him a top target from the get go this cycle.
"He (Bobo) saw I was a big tackle. He said they don't get them like that, especially in that conference. I'm 6-6, 310. He said I'm a big tackle that can move, so he liked that. I was their guy. Some people have that guy that they want and I was that guy."
Nagging ankle injuries and a shoulder issue forced Knox to play right tackle this fall for Independence. However, most of his experience has been at left tackle. At CSU, he could play either.
Knox had scheduled official visits to Southern Miss on December 2 and San Diego State on December 9. With a busy personal schedule next month, however, Knox may not take those visits after all. He will sign his letter of intent with CSU in December and enroll early for classes in January.
In the mean time, Knox will do his part in aiding CSU's recruiting efforts. He has been in talks with fellow CSU JUCO pledge Reggie Howard and he is trying to get teammate Christian Howard to commit.
"I'm trying to get Christian Howard to come. I've been talking to him, but he graduates in May."
In Knox, the Rams may have found themselves a pillar at right tackle to open the new stadium. He knows nothing will be guaranteed in regards to a starting position, but he understands there is a golden opportunity to return to the FBS ranks and further his dream of playing college football.
"I'm pretty hyped. I can't wait to get in the Green and Gold and play in the new stadium and open up some holes for the running backs and quarterback, and get bowl rings. That's everything we need."