Feb 012012
Authors: Kevin Lytle

CSU football coach Jim McElwain has yet to run his first practice with the team.

In fact, he just met some of his players for the first time in the last week.

But in a little more than a month since being named CSU’s newest coach he was able to identify the Rams’ biggest need and address it when he signed 24 new players Wednesday on National Signing Day.

And McElwain decided that CSU’s biggest problem was, well, a lack of big.

“When I met our team I was wondering where the lineman were,” McElwain said.

He fixed that by going out and signing a total of eight lineman, five offensive and three defensive. The five offensive lineman average size is 6-foot-5, 297 pounds, the biggest being Tomas Rivera (6-foot-6, 315) from Long Beach, Calif.

The added size on the defensive line will, in theory at least, help a run defense that gave up 234 yards per game a year ago.

The three defensive lineman signed average 6-foot-3, 303 pounds. The biggest two are Shaq Walker (6-foot-2, 320) from Barnesville, Ga. and junior college transfer Calvin Tonga (6-foot-3, 320).

“Lightweights don’t fight heavyweights,” McElwain said. “One of the things we needed to do was be strong in the middle and strong in the line of scrimmage.When you win the battle in the trenches you’ve got a great chance of being successful, we felt we’ve answered those needs.”

But the class wasn’t all about size. CSU added players from every position group, and more than one at every position other than quarterback and kicker.

And, as he stressed when he was hired, McElwain continued to talk about the importance of recruits being more than good athletes.

“We wanted guys that understand what it is and what it takes to be successful not only on the field, but off it too,” McElwain said. “Character was a major thing.”

Of the 21 coming straight out of high school, 11 held a GPA of 3.0 or higher, with linebacker Nolan Peralta at the top of the class with a 4.3 in high school.

McElwain also said that he preferred players who played multiple sports, as well as players who were leaders on winning teams. Of the 24 that were signed, 13 were captains of their respective teams.

The class is highlighted by eight players from California, seven from Colorado (including transfers Mister Jones and Chuck Ragland), five from Texas and three from Georgia, a new recruiting ground for CSU.

McElwain wouldn’t talk about specific players, rather he talked about this being a special unit that he hopes will help him lead CSU back to prominence.

“This is not about an individual who we signed, this is about a group of Rams,” McElwain said. “This is about a group who is going to come in together with the rest of our team to help our program and our university be successful.”

Here is a full list of CSU’s 2012 signing class:

K/P Keenan Adams, 5-10, 186, Bainbridge, Ga. (Bainbridge)
DB Josh Bowman, 6-0, 182, Abilene, Texas (Cooper)
OL Nick Callender, 6-5, 285, Hayward, Calif. (St. Mary’s College HS)
LB Kevin Davis, 6-3, 226, Fountain, Colo. (Fountain-Fort Carson)
OL A.J. Frieler, 6-5, 295, Greeley, Colo. (Greeley West)
DL Mitch Frentescu, 6-4, 270, Walnut Creek, Calif. (Las Lomas)
WR Darran Hall, 6-0, 165, Chula Vista, Calif. (East Lake)
WR Joe Hansley, 5-10, 170, Highlands Ranch, Colo. (Highlands Ranch)
DB Nick Januska, 6-2, 210, Ventura, Calif. (Ventura)
TE Brett Jordan, 6-5, 265, Houston, Texas (Bellaire)
QB Craig Leonard, 6-4, 218, Fort Collins, Colo. (Fossil Ridge)
RB Tommey Morris, 6-0, 225, Odessa, Texas (Permian)
TE Danny Nwosu, 6-2, 217, Washington, D.C. (Dunbar)
LB Bryan Ohene, 6-1, 208, Arlington, Texas (Mansfield Summit)
LB Nolan Peralta, 6-3, 222, Murrieta, Calif. (Elsinore)
OL Tomas Rivera, 6-6, 315, Long Beach, Calif. (Long Beach Poly)
TE Johnny Schupp, 6-5, 240, Vacaville, Calif. (Vacaville)
DB D’Arric Thomas, 5-10, 175, Dallas, Texas (Carter)
WR Jordon Vaden, 6-3, 180, Henderson, Colo. (Prairie View)
DL Shaq Walker, 6-2, 320, Barnesville, Ga. (Lamar County)
OL Fred Zerblis, 6-3, 295, Grayson, Ga. (Grayson)

RB Mister Jones, 6-2, 210, Littleton, Colo. (Texas A&M)
OL Chuck Ragland, 6-7, 295, Denver, Colo. (College of San Mateo)
DL Calvin Tonga, 6-3, 320, Inglewood, Calif. (Arizona Western College)

Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

2012 recruiting class by state
Calif: 8
Colo.: 7
Texas: 5
GA.: 3
Washington D.C.:1
Chat with coach McElwain about the class at the Indoor Practice Facility at 5 p.m. tonight

 Posted by at 4:32 pm

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