Colorado State's recruiting reach has extended in all directions, especially south and east, since the arrival of Mike Bobo and his coaching staff. What was once uncommon has become a familiar theme for the Rams: hosting a myriad of recruits for visits from all over the country.
Bobo's roots in the southeast have proved vital in getting many prospects from traditionally difficult locations to visit Colorado State, even for unofficial visits. Historically, CSU has usually found it tough to convince recruits to visit Fort Collins in the offseason on their own dime. Now, the Rams receive visits from top targets from all over the country with regularity.
The Rams hosted another Junior Day event on Saturday, as two of the top in-state prospects, Parker (Colo.) Legend defensive standouts Tate Wildeman and Chad Muma, and a trio of Louisiana targets, Rashod Pierre, Christian Hoz and Joey McNeely, visited Colorado State. Wildeman received his first offer from CSU on signing day, while Muma earned a CSU offer, also his first, last year.
The Bayou products had never visited the state of Colorado, so Saturday provided them the opportunity to finally do so.
"When I was coming to Colorado, I thought it would be freezing cold," said Pierre, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound safety from St. James (LA). "I knew it'd be beautiful, with the mountains and everything. It was as beautiful as I pictured."
According to Hoz, Fort Collins exceeded his expectations.
"I didn't really expect Fort Collins to be as big as it was," said the 6-foot-5, 307-pound Hoz. "It's not really hyped up, compared to all these other Division I schools. I'm just really impressed with how it really is, because it doesn't really have a lot of attention to it. When you really go out there and see it, it's pretty spectacular compared to what you think it's really going to be."
"It wows me," McNeely said of Fort Collins. "When I saw the mountains, then after the visit, me and my mom went to the lake (Horsetooth Reservoir) behind the old stadium and that just wows me. The temperature is way different than Louisiana. It feels really good out (in Colorado). I really like Colorado; it's nice."
With the group being relatively small for a Junior Day, it enabled them to spend quality time with all of CSU's coaching staff and personnel. Touring the campus and the new on-campus stadium were among the highlights noted by all three southerners.
"They gave us a whole tour of the campus. The campus was just beautiful," Pierre said. "We got a chance to watch spring practice - their first day in pads. It was intense. They had a great coaching staff and I was able to meet everyone on the coaching staff. It was great."
McNeely, fresh off a Junior Day visit to LSU, was most impressed by CSU's new on-campus stadium.
"That stadium is really nice," McNeely said. "It's just as nice as any other stadium in Division I football. They have a brand new weight room, a player's lounge and I think it holds 40,000 people."
CSU running backs coach Bryan Applewhite is the Rams' lead recruiter for the state of Louisiana. The trio spent a good portion of their time in Fort Collins with Applewhite, along with Bobo and other CSU staffers.
All three prospects are holding out hope that CSU will offer them scholarships, but the visit put the Rams in good standing if they do. Hoz and McNeely said they were told CSU assistants will evaluate them in person this spring.
"Colorado State is showing a lot of love," said Hoz, who holds offers from UCF, McNeese State and Southeastern Louisiana. "Tulane, Colorado State and UCF are sticking out. Colorado State is a beautiful place and I love the campus up there and the new stadium that's coming. Academics are great at Tulane and I like it over there, because it's local. UCF has been really supportive of me and they really like my game. They've shown the most love."
Pierre recorded four interceptions, 45 tackles and six tackles for loss as a junior. McNeely received offers from Louisiana-Monroe and McNeese State to play defensive tackle, but CSU is recruiting the 6-foot-2, 294-pounder to play on the offensive line. He collected 57 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 5 sacks and a blocked punt in 2016.