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Could Colorado State Rams football possess the greatest group of receivers in the nation? Yes, in more ways than one.
When it comes to personality, no one in college football has more than Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins. He emanates “swag” but is also a hilarious, encouraging leader with his receiving corps. When it comes to football talent, no one may have more than Higgins and his “YAC Bros.,” either.
Starting from the top, Colorado State has the No. 1 receiver in the nation in Higgins. Last year, “Hollywood” was named a consensus All-American for his NCAA-leading 1,750 yards and 17 touchdowns and, even with a new quarterback, he’s expected to perform at a high level once again.
Higgins has been named to four different watch lists for major awards, and he’s also on many preseason All-America lists by ESPN, CBS Sports and more.
What makes him special? His explosive playmaking ability. Throw Higgins a bubble screen and he’ll take it downfield 80 yards for a score. See him covered one-on-one? Watch Higgins run around the defensive back and into open space on a post. Toss him the fade, he’ll go up and get it. And once he has the ball in his hands, his determination to gain extra yards is undeniable. Sleep on him and Higgins will juke you out of your cleats.
Simply, he could be the greatest player in Colorado State Football history. At least, he’s the greatest in over a decade to wear green and gold.
“When I was a kid, I used to watch the Cowboys a lot,” the Dallas native said of which pro he looks up to. “So, Dez Bryant. He’s big, he’s physical, he likes to talk trash. And that’s my same game plan. I do the same thing. I play like I’m big, even though he’s bigger than me, and I love to talk trash.”
Higgins has to play big because, as he explained in the interview, Bobo’s offense is utilizing him as both a “Z” and an “X” receiver. The “X” is always lined up on the line of scrimmage and can be jammed by corners, so strength to win that battle is key.
If Higgins is at the “Z” most of the time, who will be the No. 2 receiver, starting at the “X” position? We’re guessing it’s going to be Elroy Masters, who’s really impressed during fall camp.
We caught up with the redshirt sophomore last week.
“I came out and feel like I’ve attacked this camp,” Masters explained. “I missed a lot of spring due to injury. So I want to come out here and show the coaches what I can do.”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound receiver has been doing just that on a consistent basis during camp. He’s speedy, his hands have improved and Masters possesses the ability to go up and snatch the ball out of the air at its highest point.
Check out Masters diving for a deep ball and reeling it in from Day 4 of fall camp:
Masters played in all 12 games last year, earning one start. He hauled in 10 catches for 156 yards and one score, but we’re thinking those stats will skyrocket this season. No. 88 talked about Bobo’s offense being well-suited to utilize his height and ability to go after jump balls, some of which may come in the end zone.
And if we had to guess the starting slot receiver, it’d be senior Joe Hansley.
“It’s got to be Joe Hansley,” Higgins said of which receiver has impressed him the most during this fall. “He’s a leader. He’s been here for four years. He continues to get better. He makes everybody better around him. And he just comes out with a mindset that we want to win and attack each day stronger than the previous.”
At 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Hansley’s size fits the slot well. He’s quick and agile, a useful target in the middle of the field. Last year as a junior, he started nine games and caught 35 passes for 540 yards and two touchdowns, but those numbers, too, could improve. Time will tell.
Behind Higgins, Masters and Hansley are talented backups like Jordon Vaden, Xavier Williams, Cole Anderson, Deionte Gaines and the list goes on. Receiver is one of the deepest positions for Colorado State football, it’s not just the best group of wideouts due to “Hollywood’s” play.
Speaking of time, there hasn’t been a ton of it for the receivers and their starting quarterback Nick Stevens to gel. Higgins spoke of his redshirt sophomore quarterback as a leader who’s helping build that much-needed chemistry as the season kicks off in 10 days.
“We’re coming together,” Higgins said of the wide receiver corps. “We still have two weeks to get everything down [with] quarterback Nick Stevens. He’s getting us together, he’s a leader on the team. Chemistry-wise, I think we’re getting it down. We’re lookin’ to ball this year, so be ready.”
The receivers will be ready because of their coaches. Mike Bobo is the unquestioned leader of everyone, while Will Friend commands the offense.
“Coach Bobo and coach Friend. Those guys, they see the best in us and push us every day to be the best,” Higgins said. “When we’re loafing, we’re not doing something right, they get on us because they see the potential. They know where we want to go and what we desire. So, why not push us everyday to come out here and be the best?”
And, here’s an example of Bobo pushing his receivers to be great.
“They really don’t have a choice,” Bobo said emphatically about receivers blocking. “If you’re going to play, you’ve got to block. If you don’t block you’re selfish and you’re not going to play for us. So, we’ve made that clear and they’re doing a nice job of blocking.”
“Bobo’s offense is real physical,” Masters commented. “So, we get after it, and we attack the DBs. It’s a fast tempo. But we also need to be able to block. I think I can use my size and get after DBs.”
“I think it fits me perfectly,” Masters continued. “And I’m looking forward to this year.”
So should every Colorado State fan, with the top group of receivers in the nation.
See Higgins’ complete interview here:
Watch Masters’ full interview here: