No team in NCAA FBS football returns fewer starters than the Colorado State Rams in 2010, which bring back just eight from a season ago. In fact, the offensive unit returns just three starters, only two of which will see significant playing time this season.
Nowhere on offense will that massive turnover be more evident than in the Ramsâ€™ ground attack.
But despite featuring a slew of fresh faces, the Ramsâ€™ backfield appears poised to impress this fall.
Headlining that attack will be UCLA transfer Raymond Carter. Standing 6-foot, and weighing 217 pounds, Carter is a dynamic blend of size, speed and agility.
Carter piled up more than 3,100 yards on the ground and scored 31 touchdowns in an impressive prep career at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, Calif. He was the third ranked all-purpose back in the country when he committed to nearby UCLA in 2007.
Carter redshirted as a freshman due to a torn ACL, and played only sparingly in his second season with the Bruins before transferring to CSU. NCAA football mandates that transfers must sit out a season before being eligible to participate.
â€œIâ€™m the type of guy who wants to see the field of play,â€ Carter said. â€œI chose CSU because they provided me everything I was looking for. I just fell in love with the whole family vibe we have here, I felt like this was the right place for me.â€
Now three years removed from a decorated high school career, Carter will finally get his chance to carry the load. So far in fall practice, the junior has certainly garnered the attention of the Rams coaches.
â€œCarter can do it all. He can hit the home run, heâ€™s got good elusiveness,â€ said running backs coach Anthoney Hill. â€œHeâ€™s got all of the tools.â€
Though Carter has established himself in the Ramsâ€™ backfield, he seems to have no problem with sharing the workload if need be.
â€œWe have a good group of running backs, any one of us can get the job done,â€ he said. â€œWe are all trying to better each other, and feed off each otherâ€™s energy.â€
Behind him on the depth chart is redshirt freshman Chris Nwoke, whose downhill running style should help compliment the more elusive Carter.
â€œIâ€™m more of a power back, with some elusiveness and quickness,â€ said Nwoke, when asked to describe his run style. â€œI really worked hard during the spring and summer to work on all of my flaws. I believe things will work out from here.â€
Third on the depth chart is speedy true freshman Tony Drake, who will see some carries, but is expected to make his presence felt most on punt and kick returns. Drake scored more than 50 touchdowns as a running back in his three years at Skyline High School in Dallas.
The majority of the Rams rushing attack will come out of the traditional I-formation, a mainstay in Fairchildâ€™s pro-style offense.
Senior fullback Zac Pauga will be vital to the success of this formation, as he offers true freshman quarterback Pete Thomas a safety valve with his ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
â€œWe will likely use him similarly to the way we did last year,â€ said Hill, who was the starting quarterback for the Rams from 1992-1994. â€œHeâ€™ll carry the ball at times, heâ€™ll lead block for the most part, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.â€
Though the Rams return their top two rushers from a year ago in seniors John Mosure and Leonard Mason, it will be much more difficult for either to earn playing time with the log jam atop the depth chart.
Mosure, however, showed great strides during Saturdayâ€™s scrimmage, taking the second-most reps behind Carter.
Assistant Sports Editor Joel Hafnor can be reached at email@example.com.