QB – Caleb Hanie is without a doubt the starter for the Rams this season. At practice he looks very poised in the pocket and shows success throwing while on the run. If history repeats itself this season, CSU should be playing a 13-game schedule in 2007 as every other Ram quarterback under coach Sonny Lubick has led his team to a bowl game his senior season.
RB – After a torn ACL in 2006 that cost Kyle Bell the entire season, Bell is back and in the full swing of things. He has shown the ability to power the ball up the middle as well as soft hands on the receiving end of the ball. Behind Bell on the depth chart are Gartrell Johnson III, Michael Myers and John Mosure. Myers has been one of the most impressive running backs during camp thanks to his elusiveness and breakaway speed around the outside. Don’t be surprised if he is moved to second-string very soon.
FB – After starting last season at halfback and only earning 305 yards on the ground all year, Gartrell Johnson III has been moved to the starting fullback position. He’s added 12 pounds of muscle this summer and should do a quality job in short yardage situations as well as opening holes for Bell. Redshirt freshman Zac Pagua is second-string behind Johnson.
SE – The Rams leading receiver from a year ago, Damon Morton, highlights the split end spot this season. Fore precautionary purposes, Morton has been doing receiving drills without pads the past week due to a sore shoulder, but should be in full form on Saturday. Johnny Walker and George Hill are the other noted names with Morton. Walker has been showing great improvement this summer and Hill has proved himself worthy of quality playing time.
FL – Luke Roberts will be the No. 1 man at the flanker position this year, but rightfully pleading his case throughout camp has been Damon Morton’s twin brother, Dion. Morton, a high school quarterback, is the shortest receiver in the Rams’ arsenal, but makes up for his size with his speed and athletic ability.
TE – Mark it down: Kory Sperry, first-team all-conference. On the practice field, Sperry shows perhaps more will to succeed this season than anyone else. As if he wasn’t one of the Rams’ best players already, Sperry’s blocking and receiving has improved tremendously this off-season. A vocal leader on the field, the 6-foot-6 Vineland native should be turning heads of Pro scouts in 2007.
OL – The Rams offensive line this season looks twice as good as last year with an impressive ability to stay with their pass blocks as well as creating holes for the running game up the middle and standing the defensive line up for counters around the outside. Starting positions were up for grabs when camp began, but the team has settle with Cole Pemberton at left tackle, sophomore Shelley Smith at left guard, sophomore Tim Walter at center, senior Nick Allotta at right guard and sophomore Adrian Martinez at right tackle.
DL – From the end to end, the defensive line this year looks solid, housing three seniors and a junior. The two marquee names of the front four are defensive tackle Blake Smith and defensive end Jesse Nading. Last season the two combined for 56 total tackles and two and a half sacks. Nading should rebound from had a disappointing junior campaign after turning heads as a sophomore.
LB – While the battle for starting strongside-linebacker isn’t over between Sedric Patterson and Ricky Brewer, the Rams look almost as deep overall all at the linebacker positions as they are at running back. Jeff Horinek and Jake Pottorff will start at middle- and weakside-linebacker, respectively. Behind them are upperclassmen Nathan Pauly and junior college transfer John Clark.
CB – Seniors Darryl Williams and Joey Rucks will start at both cornerback spots on Saturday in Denver. Williams has shown the most consistency during practice this week. While Rucks hasn’t gabbed as many interceptions during drills, he has been the best in man-on-man coverage and should be a shutdown corner for the Rams. The most surprising corner has been sophomore transfer Nick Oppenneer with his amazing ability to make one-handed interceptions with ease. If he were two inches taller, he could easily be playing receiver.
S – Klint Kubiak and Mike Pagnotta return as starters from a year ago. Now juniors, Ram fans should be excited to watch these two the next two years. Kubiak recently returned to the practice field from an injury but should be ready to go against the Buffs. Pagnotta was a pleasant surprise last year until a knee injury slowed him down.
K – After a field goal percentage of only .530 a season ago, Jason Smith has worked on his leg strength and accuracy. Hopefully this season he’ll be perfect on extra point attempts.
P – Jimmy Kaylor is all over the school’s record books and should continue his solid play in his final year. A lone holding miscue was the only blunder to speak of last year.