Rams recruits make it family matter

Sonny Lubick has always made a concerted effort to create a family-type atmosphere in the CSU football program. And that comfortable feeling is what has brought many recruits to Fort Collins opposed to the Pac-10 or Big 12 teams that compete for their talents. The atmosphere is made that much more homely when you actually recruit family, which Lubick has done a number of times, most recently with Justin and Jason Gallimore, Aaron and Russell Sprague and Morgan and Erik Pears.

Starting next year, the Rams will have two more pairs of brothers.

Lubick announced Wednesday during his National Signing Day media conference that Nathan Pauly, younger brother of current linebacker Eric Pauly, and Bob Vomhof, the sibling of defensive lineman Mike Vomhof, are part of the 21 signees that make up the Class of 2003. (One more recruit, defensive back Chase Weber from Euless, Texas, could still sign this week.)

"What that proves is that's a selling point," Lubick said. "That proves that when you get the older brother then you get the younger brother, the parents like what's going on. If they didn't like it, the younger son wouldn't be coming here.

"I know with the Pears', when Morgan came here and had a lot of people talking about him, his mother was worried about him a little academically. He was good, but she wanted him to be where someone's going to take care of him. And we all say we're gonna do that, but when Erik was such a good player two years later, he wasn't even a matter of question. She said, ‘You took care of my oldest boy, my youngest son's going there.' Of course, if the kid hadn't had that kind of experience, he tells his brother, ‘You're not coming here.'"

Un fortunately, that may have been the case with Dusty Sprague, the youngest brother of Aaron and Russell and the highly-touted recruit from Holyoke that chose CSU's in-state rival, Colorado. Aaron had a highly successful career at CSU, and is still looking to catch on with an NFL Europe team. But Russell's story isn't the same.

The junior wideout played in 11 of 12 games as a redshirt freshman and played in six games as a sophomore before having knee surgery. As a junior this past season, he caught his first – and only – pass of his career, in the team's ninth game of the year.

"That might have been one (case) where it backfired on us," Lubick said about Dusty not choosing CSU. "I'm sure that if Russell would have played more for us this year, had a real good year, things might be different in (the Sprague family's) eyes. Russell's done a lot of good things and he's going to be a good player for us, but maybe they felt he wasn't getting all the reps he should be. I'm sure that had something to do with (Dusty choosing CU)."

Say that was the reason why these younger brothers chose to go where they do and that's exactly why the younger Pauly and Vomhof chose CSU. Eric Pauly was the Rams' leading tackler last year and Mike Vomhof was asked to shed his redshirt two seasons ago to help with the team's depleted running back corps.

Both the older Pauly and Vomhof figure greatly into CSU's future plans, although Vomhof won't play next year due to surgery. And now, so do the younger brothers.

However, Lubick couldn't label either signee as the gem of the class. As always, the coach cited a number of players that could be stars.

In addition to Nathan Pauly, the Kansas Defensive Player of the Year, both Blake Smith (Oklahoma) and Jesse Nading (Colorado) were named defensive players of the year for their respective states. They lead a class dominated by defensive players.

Lubick figures 13 or 14 of the signees will go to the defense despite playing both ways in high school. He said the three linebackers he signed will be expected to step in a year from now, after the stellar trio of Eric Pauly, Drew Wood and Adam Wade graduate.

One of those linebackers is Zach Morse from Dakota Ridge High in Highlands Ranch. Lubick said he may have slipped through the cracks.

"There's always someone that's going to be missed, like Zach Morse. I just know he's going to be a special kid, but I think schools shied away from him because of his knee injury," Lubick said.

Lubick said close to 14 or 15 recruits committed before Christmas, a sure sign that kids are excited to come here. So while the class may be down a bit in number, those who did sign want to be here.

And they chose CSU over bigger schools. Lubick said every recruit his staff signed was also being looked at by either the Pac-10, Big Ten or Big 12. He mentioned the experience of Darryl Williams, a wideout/defensive back from Anaheim, Calif.

"Darryl visited us on the first weekend and then asked if he could look at one more school. So he went to Oregon, came home, and decided to go with Colorado State," Lubick said.

Such was the case with many other recruits, in-state or out-of-state. So while the Rams didn't get as many in-state kids as they wanted, they believe they got five of the very best. In fact, Lubick said he is bringing in a "real quality class" overall.

"We're not going backward, we're definitely going forward," Lubick said. "We set our sights higher every year."

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