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Colorado State beefs up offensive line with 2023 class

Justin Michael Avatar
February 4, 2023

Colorado State has to protect the quarterback better in 2023. 

Coming off of a season in which the Rams ranked dead last in the FBS in sacks allowed per game (4.92), one of the biggest keys to improving the offense this fall is finding a way to keep the QB upright. 

The Air Raid is a scheme that can be lethal with the vertical passing game. Ram fans witnessed the potential firsthand in 2021 when Jay Norvell and the Nevada Wolf Pack rolled into town and hung 52 on the board just a few weeks before he took the CSU job. 

Even as frustrating as the inconsistencies from CSU’s offense were in 2022, there were flashes of that quick strike ability throughout the season. Like when Tory Horton went off with nine catches for 186 yards and three scores against Middle Tennessee.

Tory Horton brings in a touchdown behind the MT cornerback. PHOTO: Ryan Greene | DNVR

If the Rams are going to turn the corner as a program though, and really attack teams weekly with an explosive offense that wears down opposing defenses, the big boys up front have to be more reliable in pass protection moving forward. 

Part of that equation will obviously be staying healthy. Being fair to a group that really struggled last season, for most of the year there was little to no continuity after being decimated by injuries. 

That said, healthy or not, the reality is that CSU needed to beef up in the trenches to more effectively play this brand of football. And that is exactly what the staff has aimed to do with the 2023 recruiting class.

Norvell and Co. were able to sign 10 offensive linemen in the 2023 cycle and the group averages out at 6-foot-5, 295 pounds. 

“One of our biggest areas that we needed to fill was our offensive line,” Norvell told reporters during the early period. “We really increased the size and the length of our linemen. Arm length, height and range are so important to us in pass protection. We’ve certainly got to improve with that.” 

Norvell later talked about how in a sport like football, typically it’s the biggest and strongest guys that are able to physically overwhelm the people lining up across from them. So whether it’s the linemen banging their heads together, the receivers out wide or even tight ends going up the seam, Norvell is aiming to bring in athletes with NFL caliber traits into the program. 

Of the 10 offensive linemen that CSU signed for 2023, six have some type of collegiate playing experience under their belt and will likely have an opportunity to compete for playing time this fall. Outside of Jacob Gardner, who the staff would like to move back to center but can also play left tackle, the four other roles will seemingly be up for grabs. 

Some of those starting roles could end up getting filled by players that were previously already in the program. Guys like Brian Crespo-Jacquez and Keegan Hamilton for instance. Or maybe Aaron Karas, Justin Michael, etc. 

Ultimately we’ll have to wait and see how the rotation shakes out in the end. At this point it’s pretty much a guessing game before the guys put on the pads and settle things out on the field. 

Regardless of who ends up starting for the Rams, at certain points CSU is definitely going to have to be able to count on more than five players to see the field and hold their own. Fortunately, at least on paper, it feels like the depth of the offensive line is in a much better spot than it was by the end of the 2022 campaign. 

There is enough talent under center and at the skill positions for the Rams to be one of the most dangerous groups in the Mountain West. It’s going to be really interesting to see if the offensive line holds up enough to help them reach the heights that they are capable of. 

2023 signees

OL Christian Martin | 6’5, 255 lbs

OL Drew Moss | 6’4, 300 lbs*

OL Oliver Jervis | 6’5, 305 lbs* 

OL Chris Maxey | 6’5, 325 lbs

OL Sayveon Henderson | 6’5, 305 lbs* 

OL Tanner Morley | 6’5, 305 lbs 

OL Aitor Urionabarrenechea | 6’5, 320 lbs 

OL Cameron Jackson | 6’5, 270 lbs* 

OL Ethen Ericksen | 6’4, 275 lbs* 

OL Jakob Belton | 6’7, 290 lbs*

*Transfer player 


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