Mar 122009
 
Authors: Sean Star

As if the off-season for local football fans wasn’t already chaotic enough trying to keep up with the soap opera that has become the Denver Broncos, things got downright depressing on Thursday.

Ricky Brewer, who was projected as the leader of the Rams’ defense next fall, was suspended by the team for the entire 2009 season.

Talk about a downer the day before spring break starts.

Brewer apologized in a statement released by the university, though it wasn’t exactly clear for what. He only admitted to making “an error in judgment.”

Whatever error in judgment he made, it’s going to cost his team dearly. The names of the players on the list to replace Brewer are everything but familiar, even for the most diehard Ram fan.

Simply put, Brewer is the last player the Rams could afford to lose.

A case could be made for safety Klint Kubiak, or receivers Dion Morton and Rashaun Greer, but Brewer’s ceiling is higher than all of those guys. And next season was supposed to be when he approached it.

Instead he’ll be watching from the sideline as his teammates try to build on the marked improvement they made last year. CSU’s first winning season in five years was a giant step forward, but it’s hard to not think Brewer’s suspension will greatly impede that momentum.

After coming to the Fort from Mullen High School in 2006, Brewer steadily evolved into a force on the defensive side of the ball the past two seasons.

Before Thursday he was well on his way to becoming the team’s first all-conference defensive player since 2003.

Now, who knows?

CSU players the caliber of Brewer have missed an entire season twice recently, returning the next year with varying degrees of their former self.

Kyle Bell missed all of 2006 and was never the same player. Kory Sperry missed all of 2007 and for the most part regained his form. Granted, Bell and Sperry lost their seasons to injuries and not suspensions.

If there is a smidgen of good news buried in this debacle, it’s that Brewer will still be able to practice and workout with the team. And according to one player I spoke with Thursday, that means something.

“(Brewer) brings a lot of energy, is real intense . he makes you want to work harder,” the player said.

But the fact is, Brewer’s contagious work ethic in the weight room and on the practice field can only do so much.

“That’s why you have depth charts and you don’t just have the 22 guys out there playing,” the player said. “We’re going to have to have some people step up.”

Whether Brewer’s replacement actually steps up, or simply steps in, is to be determined – as is Brewer’s reputation going forward.

“I look at it not as what he did, but what he does with the situation from this point on,” said Brewer’s coach, Steve Fairchild.

I’m not sure exactly what it was that Brewer did to get suspended, but it probably wasn’t something that would make his mother proud.

Thankfully for Brewer, he’ll likely get another chance in 2010, when he would be eligible to come back and play as a senior.

Until then, Brewer said: “I’m going to do everything I can, working my tail off in the weight room and at practice, to ensure that I give Colorado State my best possible contributions in my senior year.”

Sports columnist Sean Star can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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