Colorado State senior linebacker Ricky Brewer could be given many titles.
A joker, who always keeps morale up during practice.
A leader, making sure the defense performs to perfection.
A teacher, taking the incoming freshmen under his wing to help expedite their potential.
But earlier this month, Brewer finally disclosed the reason he spent the entire 2009 season on the sidelines as the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Denver native tested positive for marijuana during the Ramsâ€™ trip to Albuquerque, N.M. for the 2008 New Mexico Bowl.
This announcement could have easily earned him the title of â€œstoner,â€ but through his efforts both on and off the field over the past year, Brewerâ€™s image continues to be highlighted by a positive light.
â€œThe biggest thing was going in and meeting with the coaches and talking about the changes they think I need to make and sitting down with my family to discuss the changes they thought I needed to make, and I just went from there,â€ Brewer said.
A natural leader, who almost always has a smile on his face, Brewer is the focal point of the CSU defense this fall, being elected a captain by his teammates.
Sincerely apologetic for his actions, Brewer doesnâ€™t plan to take his teammatesâ€™ respect lightly.
â€œI feel like I cost my team a lot by being suspended,â€ he said. â€œSo this year, I took a personal challenge in turning this program around, and I have some great people around me to help us make this thing right â€“â€“ itâ€™s not just me.â€
One of those players is junior weakside linebacker Mychal Sisson, a freshman all-American in 2008, who went on to lead the Rams with 91 tackles last season.
Sisson said Brewerâ€™s return to the team is well deserved, as he did everything that was asked of him to prove his dedication.
On top of that, Sisson seems relieved to have his strongside counterpart back in 2010.
â€œWithout him last year, we basically had a hard time finishing,â€ said Sisson, who is a preseason 1st team All-Mountain West Conference selection. â€œJust finishing the plays off and finishing the game. A lot of the time we were up but just didnâ€™t play as hard in the second half as we did in the first.â€
When the season kicks off against CU-Boulder on Sept. 4, Brewer will have 12 to 13 games left in his college career to attract the attention of NFL scouts, as he redshirted as a true freshman in 2006 and wonâ€™t retain a season of NCAA eligibility for his suspension.
â€œ(Brewerâ€™s) response to what happened has really opened up his eyes and his maturity level has continued to develop,â€ said CSU defensive coordinator Larry Kerr. â€œEverybody goes through stages of their lives where they make mistakes, and Ricky has seen the light and appears really hungry to take advantage of his last opportunity as a college player.â€
Brewer continues to focus on team rather than self.
Whether it was making sure to speak to recent recruits who were checking out spring practice with their families or giving tips to the new freshmen over the summer and on into fall camp, Brewer canâ€™t seem to shake the title of â€œleader.â€ His students are appreciative, even for the lessons that are about more than football.
â€œRick has been a great leader. He has really been stepping it up and becoming a great leader for the team,â€ said freshman middle linebacker Charles Favors. â€œHeâ€™s taught me a lot of things, especially to keep God as the first thing in life.â€
Sports Editor Matt L. Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.