Keegan Pope/InsideTheRams.com

Colorado State expects many of its 2017 newcomers to make an immediate impact on offense

Inside The Rams profiles each offensive signee under Mike Bobo in 2017.

Colorado State added 14 offensive players as part of their 2017 signing class - four of which signed during the early signing period in December. With a former Scout 5-star on board, seven offensive linemen and a trio of talented wideouts, the Rams are hoping to get even more explosive under Mike Bobo's direction.

Inside The Rams is profiling every member of CSU's 2017 class. After profiling the defense, we continue on with the offense.

http://www.scout.com/player/211289-tyler-bjorklund?s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Terry Fair)

Bjorklund signed his letter of intent with CSU in December at the start of the early JUCO signing period. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound tackle prospect picked CSU over 20 other offers including Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon State. CSU offered him during the fall and were able to get him to visit for the December 2 recruiting weekend. Bjorklund was one of six recruits that weekend who committed to the Rams, jump-starting a huge month of December for the Rams. He signed two weeks later and is not on campus taking part in offseason workouts. Terry Fair was his lead recruiter.

Skill Set

Bjorklund could be the most college-ready of all the CSU signees. At 6-foot-5, 300-pounds, he is a polished blocker. He gets a nice push on run plays, consistently chopping his feet while maintaining leverage, and he has an athletic and balanced kick-step in pass-pro. Bkorklund should come in immediately and compete at Nick Callender's vacated tackle spot. Zack Golditch may stay at right tackle, but depending on who Will Friend wants in his starting five, Golditch may slide over to allow both Bjorklund and Ben Knox to be bookend tackles. Bjorklund is the most polished of CSU's seven OL signees, both in technique, strength, balance and college experience. Bjorklund should step in and be an immediate contributor at tackle for the Rams.

Video

Bjorklund COC Highlights

Bjorklund Highlights 2

http://www.scout.com/player/208758-john-blasco?s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Will Friend)

Blasco, Jr. was targeted a bit later on compared to other signees in this class. He earned a CSU offer in September, as special teams quality control assistant Heath Pulver and offensive line coach Will Friend worked to get Blasco Jr.'s interest up on the Rams. He earned offers from Hawaii and Montana, but CSU quickly rose to the top and the Rams earned his commitment while he was on his official visit in Fort Collins December 2. Workout buddy Rashaad Boddie played a role in him committing, as did his relationships with the Rams' staff. San Diego State offered in the weeks leading up to signing day, but Blasco, Jr. never wavered in his commitment.

Skill Set

The first thing you'll notice with Blasco, Jr. is his sheer size. He measured in at 6-foot-7, 305-pounds on his CSU visit in December. The first team all-league selection is a massive road grader, using pure strength and mass to move defenders. He is relatively raw still, especially in pass-pro, and he'll need to improve his knee-bending and leverage. But most college freshmen linemen have a great deal of rawness to their games. So all things considered, Blasco, Jr. is awfully athletic and agile at his size. Bobo made it clear this class that he wanted to get bigger in the trenches. Signing 7 offensive linemen who average over 300 pounds, I'd say he reached that goal. Blasco, Jr. will probably redshirt to refine his body, but if there is one thing we've learned from Bobo, he isn't afraid to play his first-year players if they outplay the returning upperclassmen.

Video

Blasco, Jr. Highlights 1

Blasco, Jr. Highlights 2

Previous ITR articles

Big Washington OT talks CSU pledge

http://www.scout.com/player/206405-scott-brooks?s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Terry Fair)

The Rams targeted Brooks early on, handing him his first offer in the spring. CSU stuck out to him from there on out, as Air Force, Columbia, Hawaii and New Mexico eventually extended offers. Brooks took an unofficial visit with his family to CSU in May and came away impressed. He committed to the Rams a week later, becoming CSU's first verbal pledge. Terry Fair led his recruitment and Will Friend further developed his relationship with Brooks both times he visited. Brooks took a second unofficial visit for CSU's win over Utah State, then took his official visit January 13. No other schools really came calling, since Brooks was committed so early on and never wavered in his pledge. 

Skill Set

Brooks scored his first career touchdown on a reverse throwback screen in a big playoff game against Calabasas, providing arguably the best single highlight of any signee in this class. However, Brooks knows his future is at guard and not receiver. The 6-foot-4, 283-pounder is a mauler in the run game. The only question is whether he bulks up to the point where he plays strongside guard to become CSU's power blocker, or if he plays the weakside so he can pull more often. Brooks is a smart player who was well-coached, so he could transition to the college level quicker than one may think. Brooks may be best suited for left guard with his skill set. With the departure of Paul Thurston, that spot is currently vacated. Fred Zerblis' strongside spot is also up for grabs. The well-rounded Brooks could use a year or two to put on good weight and get stronger, but it's simpy a matter of development and how quick that happens.

Video

Scott Brooks Highlights 1

Scott Brooks Highlights 2

Previous ITR articles

CSU commit takes in win

http://www.scout.com/player/211109-cameron-butler/news?year=2016&s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Joe Cox)

Butler took an unofficial visit over the summer during CSU's skills camp in July with teammate Latheron Rogers-Anderson and Ridge View head coach Perry Parks. Butler was so impressed, he committed to the Rams upon returning home and discussing things over with his family. He is a 'tweener tight end that coaches feel is in a similar mold to Isiah Pannunzio. Butler received heavy interest from Joe Cox throughout the entirety of his recruitment, which keyed heavily into his decision. He received offers from around ten other schools including Appalachian State, Army, Georgia State, and Old Dominion. Once he chose CSU over Army and App State, his recruitment remained quiet until two weeks before signing day. Upon taking a visit to Georgia State, Butler considered a flip, but didn't. 

Skill Set

Butler is a hybrid type flex tight end. He played receiver for Ridge View and was very productive. He is a potential mismatch issue for defensive backs in the passing game, as he is the athletic type of tight end CSU has been missing in Bobo's offense. That said, like Dalton Fackrell last year and Griffin Hammer this year, Butler will need to learn to block. There is a chance he plays immediately because of his size and athleticism, but it'll have to be in flex sets or shotgun formations. Otherwise, a year to develop and become a two-dimensional player will serve him well. However, coaches really like his potential. He could be a major red zone weapon for Bobo.

Video

Cam Butler Highlights 1

Cam Butler Highlights 2

http://www.scout.com/player/210947-kieran-firment?s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Jamie Bryant)

CSU reached into unchartered territory this cycle thanks to connections from Jamie Bryant. The well-traveled safeties coach has been all over the Midwest and East and networked his way to come across Firment. Syracuse, Pitt and several other showed interest, but CSU was the first to offer and secured a commitment from him on an unofficial visit in August. Firment watched CSU practice in fall camp and liked the tenacity he saw from CSU's linemen. He also built trust with CSU's coaches and staff, which led to a "second home feeling" and commitment. His recruitment never really took off, but that ended up to CSU's advantage.

Skill Set

Firment may be the least heralded of all offensive line signees this class, but he checks the boxes as a high potential guard. He's already got a nice, well-proportioned frame at 6-foot-4, 298 pounds. Firment comes out of the Pittsburgh area and he's played against some quality talent. It remains to be seen if he can come in, quickly learn the schemes and be ready to fit into Will Friend's line rotation. He's got a nice blend of strength, technique and knee bend to compete for playing time. 

Video

Firment Highlights 1

Firment Highlights 2

http://www.scout.com/player/203130-griffin-hammer?s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Jamie Bryant)

Bryant secured a commitment from the jumbo receiver just after his first visit to Fort Collins, an unofficial visit back in early June. Hammer was amazed by the investment CSU is making into its football program, which includes the new stadium, weight room, facilities on campus, and overall initiative from the administration. The Illinois native picked CSU over offers from Illinois, Miami (OH), Western Michigan, Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Ball State, and Buffalo. Hammer was never really pursued strongly from other programs after his commitment because he was solidly committed to the Rams from the summer until he signed with CSU in December. He is already on campus and is training with the team in order to be ready for spring ball.

Skill Set

Like Butler, Hammer was a receiver as a prep, and a dominant one at that. He is a Crockett Gillmore type athlete, excelling as a big, athletic mismatch for smaller defenders. Hammer is spending this winter bulking up and learning how to block. He could see immediate playing time because of his giant frame and ability to get up and snatch the ball away from defenders. Being in the Gillmore and Kory Sperry mold is a very good thing, but like the aforementioned stars, he'll need time to learn the tight end position. Gillmore was a high school receiver and Sperry a quarterback, so it is more than possible. Hammer is an intriguing prospect who probably should have received more looks during his recruitment from bigger schools, having scored 10 touchdowns in nine games.

Video

Hammer Highlights 1

Hammer Highlights 2

Previous ITR articles

Hammer ready to get on campus

http://www.scout.com/player/198685-warren-jackson?s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Terry Fair)

Jackson was a late steal for the Rams. Really, he is a perfect example of the work, tenacity and precision the CSU staff worked with all cycle. The Rams were the first college to offer Jackson last spring. Four other Pac-12 schools were among the many colleges who followed suit - Arizona, Colorado, Oregon State and Washington State. Jackson was a coveted receiver over the past year out of Bishop Alemany, having secured 7 touchdowns as a senior. Jackson committed to Arizona in June, never wavering in his pledge. CSU, though, continued to communicate with the 6-foot-6, 208-pound giant receiver. Jackson took a visit to Arizona and seemed totally set on heading to Tucson. However, in the weeks leading up to signing day, Jackson felt the need to take another college visit to compare his U of A trip to. With CSU's loyalty and persistence, Jackson visited CSU the weekend of January 21. He fell in love with the school, community and strong ties he had with the coaches and team. Within days of returning back to California, Jackson informed Terry Fair and Mike Bobo of his desire to sign with CSU. He flipped to the Rams and signed a week later. 

Skill Set

Without question, the primary asset differentiating Jackson from other receivers is his enormous frame. He stands at 6-foot-5.5 and weighed in at 208 pounds on his CSU visit. Jackson also has long arms for his height, and with soft hands, he is simply a mismatch. He's not the fastest receiver (think Plaxico Burress-type receiver), but he's extremely intriguing because he is more than simply a giant possession receiver. CSU can send him on flies or deep posts and let him out-jump smaller DBs for the ball. They could also use him in the midrange game on quick slants (an easy 7 yards) or out routes. However they decide to use him, he is sure to see the field this fall if he can pick up schemes and become a precise route runner.

Video

Jackson Highlights 1

Jackson JR Highlights

Previous ITR articles

3-star WR back from CSU visit

Jackson details CSU pledge

http://www.scout.com/player/176211-ben-knox?s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Will Friend)

One of CSU's biggest lands this cycle - literally - is Independence C.C. tackle Ben Knox. The 6-foot-6, 328-pounder was originally a USF signee out of high school. Upon leaving South Florida, he joined Indy, where he played the past two seasons. CSU targeted him early this cycle, offering him and tabbing him as their top OT target. Knox took his time with his recruitment, slowly picking up offers from the likes of FIU, San Diego State, Southern Miss and Iowa State. He took an official visit to CSU in July and was blown away with what CSU had to offer. Knox planned to take all five official visits before announcing a commitment, but decided to pull the trigger on November 20 and pledge to the Rams. Will Friend was his lead recruiter, but Bobo played a significant role, as Knox was his crowned jewel of the class. Knox signed his LOI in December and has been working out with the team for the past month.

Skill Set

Knox is a giant right tackle with prototypical size and ability for the position. Once he locks onto defenders, it's usually game over, as he's simply massive and so strong, he just plows them back. He's not the fleetest of foot and his pass pro could use work. Whether that's getting stronger in his lower body, trimming his body a bit or simply getting coached by longtime Georgia OL coach Will Friend, Knox has some time this spring to improve in all those areas. Based on his athleticism for his size and college experience, Knox will be expected to compete for a starting spot in 2017. Being here in the spring is huge, so there's a chance he goes into fall camp as the man to beat at right tackle if he can earn it and stay healthy.

Video

Ben Knox Highlights 1

Ben Knox Highlights 2

Previous ITR articles

Rams gain big OT commit

Knox leaning towards a favorite

http://www.scout.com/player/212819-luis-lebron?s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Joe Cox)

Lebron was an interesting find for CSU. He wasn't even on the Rams' radar until graduate assistant George Helow made a trip down to Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood to see then-CSU commit Sincere David. Upon conversing with Sandalwood head coach Adam Geis and seeing Lebron in person, Helow made some calls to CSU's staff and things quickly picked up from there. CSU watched his film, confirmed he was as big as he looked and said he was, which was close to 6-foot-5, 355-pounds, and offered him. Lebron committed within hours. Cox continued to recruit Lebron and once he took a visit to CSU in December, was further convinced CSU was where he wanted to play his college ball. Southern Miss also offered, while Georgia Tech and Wake Forest showed interest.

Skill Set

Lebron is a massive lineman. He absolutely dwarfs defensive linemen. He is raw because he's only played a few years in Florida (he moved from Pennsylvania), but he has a very high ceiling with his raw strength and athleticism for his size. He is a pure mauler and is likely set for right guard, even though he played right tackle for Sandalwood. He will need to improve his overall body mass index, but that will come with time. In essence, Lebron is a high-risk, high-reward addition to this class. But when you break down his film, look at his measurables and hear what his coaches say about him on and off the field, it's a wonder why he didn't get more offers, considering college recruiters from all over the country filtered in and out of Sandalwood on the daily. He has a chance to play immediately purely because of his size, but he's got a chance to be a very good one for the Rams.

Video

Lebron Highlights 1

Lebron JR Highlights

Previous ITR articles

Lebron goes in-depth on CSU visit

Luis Lebron will suit up in Mountain West

http://www.scout.com/player/203906-justice-mccoy?s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Bryan Applewhite)

McCoy was a great land for the Rams, but it was not for lack of twists and turns. The Rams targeted the 3-star dual-threat quarterback early in the spring as a top priority. The New Orleans native flew into Fort Collins for junior day in late March and following the trip, listed the Rams as a top school. Prior to the start of his senior season, McCoy collected offers from West Virginia, Tulane, SMU, FAU, and Memphis, to name a few. He patiently waited out the process, taking numerous unofficial visits. In today's age of recruiting, most schools try to ensure their QB pledge by the start of fall camp at the latest, so the fact McCoy waited so long led to some twists and turns. As CSU waited on McCoy, they also evaluated and offered other quarterbacks. When CSU brought Atlanta QB Ryan Glover in for an unofficial visit over the summer, Glover liked what he saw and committed to CSU a few weeks later in July. With his options narrowing as more and more signal callers announced their commitments, McCoy committed to Florida Atlantic soon after Glover committed in late July. McCoy maintained committed to the Owls until their staff was fired. Unsure of whether Lane Kiffin would keep him when he was hired, McCoy re-opened his recruitment.

The timeliness of the event, ironically, was around the same time Glover de-committed from CSU to find early playing time elsewhere. With most schools already having their QB commit on board, McCoy had few options, but thankfully for him, the Rams were one of them. Mike Bobo quickly called McCoy when he became available and asked if he had interest. McCoy said yes, and committed to the Rams soon after. He remained a solid commit, took his official visit to CSU on January 13 and inked with the Rams. Bryan Applewhite is the Louisiana area recruiter for the Rams and headed the charge for CSU. He stopped by for an in-home visit and McCoy said his relationship with Applewhite was a big reason he committed to the Rams. CSU quarterbacks coach Ronnie Letson also communicated with Applewhite and flew down to evaluate McCoy in-person early on in the recruiting process.

Skill Set

McCoy is a true dual-threat quarterback, capable of make defenders miss with his legs. His strongest attribute is in running with the football. He has natural instincts to know when to tuck it and run, or find running lanes to pick up yards downfield. CSU has had mobile quarterback signees in the past, guys who can at least move around in the pocket - J.C. Robles, Nico Ranieri and Garrett Grayson, to name a few. However, McCoy is probably the best true running threat CSU has signed at quarterback in many, many years. His focus is on improving his throwing ability, but it's not like CSU's staff is looking to move him to a skill position. He is still a natural passer, displaying smooth mechanics, a strong arm and an accurate arm. He appears to be further along as a runner at this point. That being said, CSU's staff has informed McCoy they love his throwing abilities and natural arm talent. They believe that with more work and repetitions, he can become something special. McCoy told ITR following his commitment that the staff's goal is to get him to be a pass first quarterback (which, he essentially already is), but to refine his abilities so as to make him an even more viable dual-threat weapon.

Video

McCoy Highlights 1

McCoy Highlights 2

Previous ITR articles

Rams get their QB

http://www.scout.com/player/193755-marcus-mcelroy?s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Marty English)

McElroy is one of the biggest in-state gets for the Rams over the past several years. Since arriving onto the scene as a true freshman at Mullen, McElroy has been a top name in Colorado high school football. It was expected early on in his career, following big freshman and sophomore seasons, that he would end up at a Power Five school. He had some of the country's bigger schools reaching out to him. CSU and Marty English pressed hard into recruiting McElroy, hoping that they could somehow land the 3-star and top-rated back in Colorado. CSU was able to get McElroy on campus numerous times for unofficial visits, junior days and to attend home football games. After he had picked up offers from Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State and Purdue, there was conjecture he would end up at one of those schools. But the steady relationships built up over time proved to be enormous for the Rams. The relationships between his parents and the staff also was a major part of McElroy's commitment to CSU, as they could trust the Rams coaches and only have to drive an hour to watch him play at the FBS level.

CSU sent Bobo and English to Mullen's game this fall against ThunderRidge and English stopped by Mullen as much as he was allowed to. CSU finally secured a commitment from McElroy during his December 2 official visit to Fort Collins. In-homes with Bobo and Bryan Applewhite further sealed the deal for the 6-foot, 205-pound bruising all-purpose back.

Skill Set

McElroy's talent has been on display against the top in-state competition over the last four seasons. McElroy is a highly-regarded back who already has a college-ready frame and skill set. The all-Colorado selection has a quality blend of size, speed, shiftiness, break-tackle ability, and vision. Having rushed for 3,918 yards and scored 64 touchdowns over his prep career, one has to wonder if McElroy can break through CSU's deep running back rotation to see the field this fall. There has been some speculation McElroy could play linebacker in college because of his size and speed, but running back is what he has played his whole life and is his natural position. Fans should be giddy to see McElroy ink with the Green and Gold. McElroy is a top talent, capable of being a future star in the Mountain West.

Video

McElroy Highlights 1

McElroy Highlights 2

http://www.scout.com/player/202938-joctavis-phillips/recruiting?year=2016

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Bryan Applewhite)

Phillips was a signing day addition for the Rams after a surprise flip by Sincere David the night before National Signing Day. Phillips was recruited by CSU all fall, but the Rams had several other offensive line prospects on their board, so he didn't officially pick up a CSU offer until signing day. He took an official visit January 21, which helped seal the deal for him if an offer indeed came through.

Skill Set

Phillips is a big, very athletic offensive tackle prospect who could also fit in at guard. He moves quite well for a 6-foot-4, 305-pounder. Not a ton is known about Phillips, but the Rams staff targeted him early because he is a three-year starter on the line for Neville, who won a district championship and produced an Alabama signee this year. Phillips is relatively raw and is the ultimate dark horse this class because not much information is available on him.

Video

Phillips Highlights

http://www.scout.com/player/208673-e-j-scott?s=132

Recruitment (lead recruiter - Joe Cox)

One of many 3-stars landed by Joe Cox this class, Scott is a talented two-way player who picked CSU over offers from a dozen schools, which included Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Scott committed to CSU two weeks after an unofficial visit with his family for CSU's win over Utah State. The family atmosphere of CSU played a big role in his decision to commit to the Rams, as did his connection with Cox, Bobo and the other coaches from Georgia. Scott took his official visit to CSU the weekend of December 7. The Rams recruited Scott for about a year and never relented since offering him last offseason.

Skill Set

Scott could end up at either receiver or cornerback, but CSU recruited him intensely because they believe he can become an elite receiver. At 6-foot-2, 190-pounds with a chiseled, athletic body type similar to Michael Gallup, they believe Scott has a high ceiling at receiver. His length is impressive, as is his ability to locate the ball, then go up and attack the ball at its high point. He is a confident kid who seems to play his best with the pressure cooker is at its highest. He finished his senior season with 47 catches for 813 yards and 7 touchdowns. His length could be very valuable in the secondary - think Braylin Scott - but may lack the necessary physicality to play corner or safety. Either way, Scott is a physical specimen capable of being a playmaker on either side of the ball. 

Video

EJ Scott Highlights 1

EJ Scott Highlights 2

EJ Scott Highlights 3

http://www.scout.com/player/171869-preston-williams

Recruitment

Williams comes to CSU as one of the most decorated additions in program history. Williams was Scout's top-rated wide receiver and a 5-star coming out of Lovejoy High School (Ga.) in 2015. He chose Tennessee over Georgia, Auburn, Florida State and a plethora of other top-tier Power Five programs. In 12 games played during his first two seasons at Tennessee, Williams started three games and hauled in 16 catches for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The 6-foot-4, 209-pounder decided to transfer from Tennessee in mid-October and CSU quickly jumped aboard the Williams sweepstakes. Mike Bobo was Williams' primary recruiter as a prep when Bobo was Georgia's offensive coordinator, so the connection proved vital in CSU landing him. Due to his comfort level at CSU, Williams picked CSU over USC and UCLA. The Rams were able to secure a surprise official visit from Williams for their 37-0 win over Fresno State. CSU wrapped up his commitment a day later and Williams inked with the Rams that same weekend. He is already on campus and will take part in spring practices, but is required to sit out the 2017 season due to transfer rules. He will have two seasons of eligibility starting in 2018.

Skill Set

Williams has all the physical tools you want out of a wide receiver. He is a legitimate 6-foot-4, very long, but has an athletic, muscular build even though he is so long. Williams has excellent straight line speed, great hands and knows how to go up and catch the ball at its highest point. He is very physical and aggressive, not shying away from contact or going after the ball in traffic. Really, his only drawback will be whether he can handle sitting out a year, while also having the motivation to continue working and improving during his redshirt season. His reason for transferring from UT is a bit cloudy, but it has been reported he was disappointed with his role in Butch Jones' offense.

Video

Williams Highlights 1

Williams Highlights 2

Williams Highlights 3

Williams Highlights 4

Williams Highlights 5

Previous ITR articles

Williams commits to CSU after surprise visit

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