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Everything CSU fans should know about Steve Addazio's 2020 recruiting class

Justin Michael Avatar
December 19, 2019

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Despite having less than a week to secure the majority of his 2020 class, Steve Addazio was able to have a successful first day of the early signing period.

With the help of some of Mike Bobo’s staff as well as a couple of new hires, the first-year head coach of the Rams was able to sign nine players on Wednesday.

“It was a good day today,” Addazio said. “It was important to find players that were tough, love football and love Colorado State.”

As it currently stands, the group includes a pair of defensive ballers from Texas, a highly touted running back from the sunshine state and four local stars, including the 2019 Gatorade Player of the Year and Colorado’s record holder for receiving touchdowns in a single season.

According to Addazio, there is potential for another signing or two before the deadline on Friday. But now that the majority of the 2020 class is finalized, here’s everything Ram fans should know about the latest signings.

Kyjuan Herndon | Running Back | Jacksonville, Florida

Nobody expected CSU to land Herndon but the Rams made a splash by flipping the 5-foot-9, 175-pound running back from Maryland on Wednesday.

On Dec. 8, Herndon verbally committed to the Terrapins. And with 21 total offers, including Florida State, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Virginia Tech and of course Maryland, the Jacksonville, Fla., native had a plethora of options to further his education and playing career. But at the last minute, Steve Addazio was able to sway the speedy back to take his talents across the country to ‘Ag Land’.

In 2019, Herndon led Trinity Christian Academy High School with 1,836 rushing yards on 234 attempts (7.8 yards per carry). With 15 rushing touchdowns, he more than tripled the next closest player on the roster in production as well.

With CSU’s struggles to run the football over the past two seasons, it’s clear that Addazio and Co. were committed to finding explosive running backs. Herndon and some of the local guys that were signed now give the Rams a variety of young talent to develop in the coming years.

Casey Irons Jr. | Defensive End | Gilmer, Texas

Irons was CSU’s first commit for the 2020 cycle and is a player that Ram fans have been excited about for months.

Classified as a three-star prospect and ranked the 75th-best strong-side defensive end in the country by 247Sports, Irons is a tackling machine. In two seasons at Gilmer High School, Irons recorded 117 total tackles (86 solo), 19 of which were for a loss and he had nine sack as well.

Irons also held offers from Kansas, Liberty, North Texas and Texas Southern but has been dedicated to the Rams since day one. Despite not receiving a ton of interest from major programs, the 6-foot-3, 237-pound, defensive end looks like a guy that can develop into an elite pass-rusher.

James Mitchell | Defensive Tackle | Duncanville, Texas

Much like Irons, Mitchell has been committed to the Rams for a while and decided to keep his commitment through the coaching change. The 6-foot-1, 278-pound, defensive tackle ultimately picked the Rams over offers from Arkansas, Boston College, UCONN and others.

Currently a starter for one of the best teams in Texas, Mitchell should come into Fort Collins with a winning mindset. His team, the Duncanville Panthers, are currently 15-0 and will be playing in the Texas 6A football championship this weekend. In the semifinal, Mitchell recorded three tackles for loss.

Most importantly, though, Mitchell provides depth at the most difficult position to recruit in college football. Quality defensive tackles almost always get swooped up by Power Five programs at the last minute. So considering all of the change that’s occurred within the program since the season ended, Ram fans should be excited about being able to land a truly dominant run-stopper like Mitchell.

Brian Crespo | Offensive Tackle | Fort Collins, Colorado

A hometown favorite, Crespo is the first player from Fort Collins to sign with the Rams since linebacker Max McDonald did so in 2015.

Currently ranked as a three-star prospect and the No. 13 overall player in the state of Colorado by 247Sports, Crespo picked CSU over offers from Northern Colorado and New Mexico State.

Although still raw as a prospect, with a 6-foot-5, 317-pound, frame to work with, it’s not surprising at all that the staff made an early commitment to him. And with the recent departures of both TJ Storment Nouredin Nouili, his addition becomes even more important.

Plus, as Addazio pointed out on Wednesday, Crespo will be a first-generation college student, which is always something that should be celebrated.

Chase Wilson | Linebacker | Arvada, Colorado

Wilson was a three-sport star for the Ralston Valley Mustangs, competing in track and field, lacrosse and football. On the football field, Wilson was versatile as well, lining up on both sides of the ball.

As a running back, Wilson rushed for 2,021 yards, had 576 receiving yards and scored 28 total touchdowns in his career. And as a defender, Wilson recorded 44 tackles and two sacks this past season at linebacker — which is what he will play collegiately.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, Wilson is somewhat undersized but he plays with zero fear and is a guy that with the right development, should be able to be a solid contributor down the line. Although the comparison feels somewhat lazy because they came out of the same program, in a lot of ways Wilson’s potential reminds of Andrew Wingard’s a few years back (Wyoming).

Tanner Hollens | Athlete | Littleton, Colorado

Hollens was an absolute workhorse for the Columbine Rebels this season and was honored with the Gatorade Player of the Year award as a result.

Playing under Andy Lowry, who has been one of the most successful coaches in the state over the last decade, Hollens rushed for an astounding 4,306 yards and 52 touchdowns in his career. Hollens also added 46 receptions for 538 yards and 10 touchdowns through the air.

One of the later pledges, Hollens was originally committed to Northern Colorado. In fact, had Addazio not offered him late, Hollens very likely would have been suiting up for Ed McCaffrey next fall. Luckily for the Ram faithful, though, driving down to Columbine and offering Hollens was one of the first things that Addazio did after getting the job.

Currently classified as an athlete, it will be interesting to see how the Rams decide to work Hollens into the fold.

Henry Blackburn | Wide Receiver | Boulder, Colorado

Blackburn is one of those players that can do it all. He set records as a wide receiver, was one of the best defensive players for Fairview High School, and he probably cut the grass and filled the water cooler as well.

Ranked the 15th-best player in Colorado by 247Sports, Blackburn received a lot of interest from Ivy League schools and was at one time committed to the University of Pennsylvania. Blackburn also held offers from Air Force and Central Michigan but ultimately decided that Fort Collins was the best place to prepare for his future.

Listed at 5-foot-11, 189 pounds, Blackburn will be a defensive back in the initial stages. As previously mentioned, though, he was a standout receiver for the Knights and coach Tom McCartney at Fairview.

In his career, Blackburn recorded 139 catches for 2,403 yards and 43 touchdowns at wide receiver. On the defensive side, Blackburn finished with 169 tackles, 16 passes defended and three interceptions.

According to Addazio, the local standout will  likely be an early enrollee in the spring, along with Casey Irons Jr. and Kyjuan Herndon.

Dylan Walker | Tight End | Royersford, Pennsylvania

Walker was the only signing that Addazio had previous contact with before coming to Colorado State and flipped late from Bowling Green.

With a 6-foot-4, 236-pound, frame, Walker is seemingly the perfect fit for Addazio’s ground and pound approach. They can line him up and take advantage of his size as a blocker and he’ll definitely be a mismatch for defensive backs to try and tackle when he’s used as a receiver.

In total, Walker finished his senior year with 34 receptions for 470 yards and 10 touchdowns. He should make a great addition to a talented tight end group that already features Trey McBride (sophomore) and Cam Butler (sophomore).

Brandon Guzman | Defensive Back | Covina, California

Guzman was a two-way standout for Charter Oak High School, playing both defensive back and wide receiver. According to 247Sports, Guzman is classified as a three-star prospect and also held offers from BYU, New Mexico, New Mexico State and San Diego State.

Despite only playing in three games in his senior season due to injury, Guzman still managed to make some highlights on both sides of the ball. Offensively he finished with 12 receptions for 184 yards and he had 10 tackles and a pick-six on defense to boot. As a junior, Guzman totaled 37 catches for 472 yards and five touchdowns.

Looking at his film, Guzman has electric speed and is a guy that can line up all over the field. Obviously, he is not the tallest guy in the world but he brings a type of explosiveness that just can’t be taught. I’m sure the coaches are chomping at the bit to get this guy on the field and watch him fly around.

VIDEO: Courtesy of CSU Athletics 


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