After losing stalwarts Ricky Brewer and Guy Miller, the CSU football team will be looking for new players to rise to the status of stardom.
Here are some that could make that leap.
Position: Tight end
After switching back-and-forth between tight end and defensive end in the last year, Gillmore has found his spot as the Ramsâ€™ top tight end.
And he seems to have developed an instant connection with quarterback Pete Thomas, becoming his go-to receiver in practice. Gillmore has good size at 6 feet 6 inches, and he has great ability to catch the ball in traffic.
Playing his preferred position, Gillmore will attempt to follow in the footsteps of previous prolific tight ends at CSU, Joel Dreessen and Kory Sperry, both of whom are now in the NFL.
Itâ€™s a leap Fairchild thinks the sophomore can make.
â€œHeâ€™s very, very talented,â€ Fairchild said. â€œYou hate to anoint anybody something, but I would be surprised if heâ€™s not one of the better tight ends in the league right off the bat.â€
Position: Defensive end
Sargent may be the dark horse selection for breakout star.
The defensive line rotation goes eight players deep, but doesnâ€™t have a sure-fire game-changer like it had a year ago with Miller.
But thus far in camp, Sargent has looked like he could make that leap.
After playing fullback, tight end and linebacker at times in the past, the junior is finally settled into the defensive end position. And his quickness off the end has allowed him to get numerous virtual sacks â€” players arenâ€™t allowed to hit the quarterbacks â€” during spring camp.
Sargent plays with a never ending motor which allows him to get back into plays that it seems he is out of. Coach Steve Fairchild is hopeful that Sargent might emerge from the pack and become the playmaker the Rams need.
â€œBroderick has stepped up,â€ Fairchild said. â€œI donâ€™t know if weâ€™ll know if we have an all-conference type guy or game changer until we play the season. Somebody might raise their game up a bit.â€
Position: Outside linebacker
His name is one of the most recognizable on the Rams. The little brother of NFL pro bowler Brian Orakpo, he delivered the most memorable hit for CSU in years last season when he knocked the helmet off UNLV running back Tim Cornett, landing Orakpo on SportsCenterâ€™s top plays.
After collecting 37 tackles last year, Orakpo will step into the starting lineup after the graduation of Brewer.
Despite being only a sophomore, Orakpo has become one of the leaders of the defense, constantly coaching up and encouraging his teammates during practice.
The leadership, he says, can be attributed to his comfort level coming into his second year
â€œKnowing the plays, knowing what Iâ€™m doing out there,â€ he said on the biggest difference from a year ago. â€œWhen you know the playbook you can just go react instead of thinking, so thatâ€™s a big plus for me. Iâ€™m feeling way more comfortable than I did last year.â€
And with offenses focusing on teammate Mychal Sisson, Orakpo could be due for a big year.
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.