Mohamed Kamara had two big goals for himself when he decided to return to Colorado State for a fifth season.
The first goal was to graduate which he accomplished last May. The second was to improve his status as an NFL prospect.
“I just want to raise my draft stock,” Kamara told DNVR at Mountain West Media Days. “Show all the NFL teams what I can do, and show them that I’m an elite pass rusher.”
Kamara had options in the offseason. He obviously could have declared for the NFL Draft after a productive 2022 campaign. He could have hopped in the transfer portal and any number of power five programs would have been bidding for his services. And Kamara has been honest that he considered those routes.
“Every single choice that you can think of was on the board,” he said. “That’s just who I am.”
As Kamara explained, it was essentially a process of elimination for him. He wanted to take in all of the possible information and then make an informed decision that put him in the best position to succeed. After praying on it and discussing things through with his family, Kamara ultimately decided one more run with the Green & Gold was the right move.
It didn’t take days of the coaching staff begging Kamara to return. In fact, he said that after having one conversation with Jay Norvell, Kamara told the CSU head coach that it’s not necessary to re-recruit him. He already knew what he’d get out of it.
Kamara also didn’t want the process to be complicated or some type of spectacle. He didn’t need social media gratification or a sit-down interview on TV to announce his return. Kamara simply wanted to go through the process, determine his path forward, and then he was going to let people know on his own terms.
“If I’m gonna come, I’m going to tell you I’m coming. If I’m not going to come, then I’m not going to come,” Kamara said.
“It’s not going to be some big news (through the) media or anything like that. I’m just gonna tell you. So it wasn’t a big recruiting thing. It wasn’t that hard.”
One of the big reasons that Kamara came back to Fort Collins and didn’t pursue a bigger stage to showcase his skills is his relationship with defensive coordinator Freddie Banks. Kamara explained that the two spend a lot of time breaking down film together and that Banks instills a lot of confidence in him as a player with the type of preparation they do.
“Whatever he sees, it’s going to happen on the football field,” Kamara said of Banks.
“Him and coach Budha (Williams), they work closely together. Whatever they see, it’s probably going to happen. They are great students of the game and I’m just trying to be like them.”
According to Kamara, what makes Banks such a great mentor is how effectively he communicates what he wants. There are times where he’s intense or gets after the players, but it’s only when necessary. And the players respond to him because they know how prepared Banks truly is every week.
“The defense is simple,” Kamara said. “He makes it very, very simple.”
So far this season, things seem simple for Kamara. The fifth-year veteran leads the Mountain West with 6.5 sacks (No. 2 nationally). And what’s insanely impressive about that is the fact that he’s only played three and a half games after missing the first half of the MTSU win for a late targeting call against CU. Most of the guys Kamara is in the same conversation with in terms of statistical production have played in at least four, if not five games.
In the win over Utah Tech on Saturday night, Kamara finished with a season-high eight total tackles and three tackles for loss. CSU’s quarterback killer also added one and a half sacks for good measure. Over his last six quarters of football, Kamara has 10 total tackles (5 TFL) and three and a half sacks. And to this point, he has at least one sack in every game the Rams have played.
As Kamara sees things, it’s not like he’s trying to rack up some type of streak. Going out there and attacking the quarterback is just what he does.
During Saturday’s postgame press conference, Kamara explained that he knows teams are going to try and throw a lot of different things his way. Sometimes they try to double-team him with an offensive tackle and guard. Other instances they chip him with a tight end or even send a center his way. But when it’s a situation where he gets to go one on one, that’s when he has to win.
“That’s all I’m worried about,” Kamara said. “When it’s one on one, I have to win.”
“And he does,” linebacker Chase Wilson chimed in with a smile.
With 24 sacks in his career, Kamara recently surpassed Adrian Ross (22.5) and is currently tied with Cory James for the fourth-most in school history. He can tie Mike Bell with one more. Then he would only trail Clark Haggans (33) and Brady Smith (28.5) for the most sacks by any Ram.
While the all-time record seemed like a long shot coming into the season, if Kamara can continue his blistering pace of 1.8 sacks per game, not only will he top Haggans’ career mark but he’ll also break Brady Smith’s 1996 single-season record of 16 sacks. At his current rate, Kamara is on pace to produce 20 sacks in 2023, which would give him 38.5 for his career.
Regardless of whether he ends up breaking those records or not, it’s clear that Kamara is accomplishing what he hoped to this fall. NFL scouts have to be salivating at the way the dynamic edge rusher is producing week after week. And it’s not like he only dominates G5 competition, Pac-12 programs had no answers for Kamara either.
“I’m just so proud of Mo,” Norvell said Saturday night.
“He’s such a relentless player. He plays with such passion, heart and desire. And he’s just relentless. He just keeps coming.”
Norvell continued to praise the veteran defender, raving about how the standard that Kamara is setting is something that benefits everyone in the locker room.
“He’s just such a great example to our younger players. He’s having an amazing year, and I’m hearing from a lot of pro scouts that talk about how his pass rush is just rare. And that’s just effort. So I’m anxious to continue to see him play well, and he’s putting together an amazing year.”
At the end of the day, what the Rams really want to do is return to the postseason for the first time in six years. More than any individual goals, getting this team back into a bowl game is what matters most.
But when you consider what Kamara has meant to this program over the last couple of seasons and that he really could be playing anywhere in the country right now, it’s pretty cool to see him being rewarded after staying loyal to CSU.
Kamara is as dominant as any defensive player that I’ve ever seen in the Mountain West. If he keeps playing like this, not only will he be taking home some serious hardware at the end of the year, he’ll be a guy that’s prioritized in the 2024 NFL Draft.