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The 2021 seniors leave behind a complicated legacy but their impact and commitment to CSU Football won't be soon forgotten

Justin Michael Avatar
December 22, 2021

DENVER — With the 2021 season in the rearview mirror, the focus is now on the future when it comes to Colorado State football. 

Jay Norvell and Co. have reignited the passion of Ram Nation in a way that we haven’t seen in quite some time. CSU has already put together an impressive 2022 class in the early period and it has the potential to improve even more on National Signing Day (Feb. 2). The staff as a whole has done well with using social media to generate excitement. And the general feeling around this program is just much more positive than it has been since the height of the McElwain era. 

All of the optimism surrounding the future of the Green & Gold is incredible. It’s so refreshing to have the die-hards rejuvenated, as they have a legitimate reason to believe things are going to turn around for their school. 

However, while most supporters will want to forget the Addazio era like a bad dream that fades away over the course of the day, it is still important to recognize the positive impact and talent that many of the veterans on the roster brought to the table. 

The McBride brothers were the shining light that kept the hope alive in the hearts of the Ram faithful over the last half decade. 

Had it not been for injuries, Toby’s career numbers would have been absolutely insane. Even with them he recorded 111 total tackles, 23.5 for loss and 10.5 sacks in 34 career games. But obviously missing 20 games between the 2017 and 2018 seasons and then only getting to play three in 2020 impacted his potential production over the course of his career. 

Nov 13, 2021; Toby McBride (0) leads the colors onto the field before the game against Air Force. PHOTO: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Trey’s laundry list of accolades could be the sole focus of this article. The first consensus All-American in program history, the first Mackey Award winner, a three-time All-Conference selection, the fifth FBS tight end ever to record a 1,000 yard season and a variety of program records to his name; No. 85 should be retired for his accomplishments alone at this point. Let alone when you think about his legacy and what he’s meant to CSU fans through difficult stretches for two different football coaches. 

It’s bittersweet that we’ve seen the last of the ‘Brothers McBride’ strapping it up on Sonny Lubick Field. They deserved so much better than the consistent frustration that became synonymous with the program during their respective collegiate careers. The silver lining, though, is that we now get to celebrate their next great successes. 

Whether Toby makes the league or not, he’s a college graduate and one of the toughest individuals that I’ve ever met.  His future is incredibly bright. Trey, on the other hand, very well may have played his way into the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft. He’ll have a chance to further improve his draft stock at the Senior Bowl on Jan. 30 and then the NFL Combine over the first week of March. At this point he feels like a lock to, at the very least, be a top 50 selection, which is great because it will ensure a certain level of commitment to him from whatever organization takes him. With his talent it seems unlikely that he’ll have any trouble impressing his next coach though. 

Trey McBride is obviously the headliner of this group, but there’s a long list of veteran players that meant a lot to CSU. 

FT. COLLINS, CO – NOVEMBER 05: Wyoming Cowboys LB Keyon Blankenbaker (18) can’t bring down Colorado State Rams tight end Trey McBride (85) who scores a touchdown against him in the third quarter at Canvas Stadium November 05, 2020. PHOTO: Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Barry Wesley was a walk-on that more than worked his way into a scholarship, he was the best offensive lineman on the team for each of the last four seasons. A trustworthy left tackle and a versatile player that could fill any role on the line when his number was called, I don’t even want to think about how bad some of those groups would have been without him. And that’s not even getting into the impact he made in the community or the bravery he displayed through a tragic incident where his life was put in danger by a racist coward. A local product, a tremendous human being and damn good football player, I’ll really miss covering Wesley in Fort Collins. But Ram Nation should forever respect the man that he is both on and off the field. 

Another player whose personality will be missed in that locker room is Ryan Stonehouse. Sure, he’s the NCAA’s all-time leader in career average (47.8 yards per punt). He’s a four-time all-conference selection. And he has an absolute rocket of a leg that puts most punters in the NFL to shame. But his charisma and his thoughtfulness with every response that he gave may actually be what I’ll remember most about his time at CSU. Times were tough during the vast majority of his career, you never would have known that based on the way that Stonehouse interacted with everyone though. 

There have been many great punters to represent the Green & Gold over the years. Hayden Hunt, his predecessor, was one of the best I had ever seen in person and then ‘Stoney’ came in and completely reset the bar. Hopefully his commitment to CSU will not be soon forgotten either. Much like Trey, if Stonehouse wanted to transfer up, he very easily could have at any point during his college career. His loyalty never wavered though. 

Since we’re currently on the topic of quality special teams play, the starting long snapper for the past four years, Ross Reiter, deserves acknowledgement as well. It’s not a glamorous position but his effort was never in question. After snapping the ball he was often one of the first people to be in the area of it when it landed after a booming punt from Stonehouse. For all of the troubles that CSU had on special teams during Addazio’s tenure, it was rarely the fault of the aforementioned. 

Manny Jones and Scott Patchan are a pair of examples where you couldn’t ever question their motors either. Quarterback killers, impactful run stoppers, they were everything you’d hope for on the defensive line. Jones leaves with 13.5 sacks to his name and a couple of dominant Border War performances that will probably haunt Wyoming QBs for the rest of their lives. He just always showed up big against the rival from the north. And Patchan, although only a Ram for 16 games, was the rare example of a transfer player dropping down and completely reinventing themselves. The reality is there are far more T.J. Roundtrees or Faton Bautas than guys like Patchan or Preston Williams, who transferred from a Power Five school and then dominated the G5 level. 

Finally, while he’s not the only other veteran player that deserves recognition, a guy that I’d be remiss to ignore is Logan Stewart. While there is finally some hope for the future of the secondary, with talented players like Jack Howell, Henry Blackburn and now A.J. King on the roster, Stewart was probably CSU’s most consistent performer in the back end these past few seasons. He’s a homegrown guy that got to live out his dream of playing for CSU in front of his family. And I can honestly say that he might be the politest and kindest athlete I’ve ever met. I wish I got a chance to say that to him in person on Senior Night but it’s the truth. Stewart is the type of dude that makes you want to pay it forward. 

Logan Stewart returns an interception against Fresno State in an upset win over the Bulldogs (2019).

Honestly, we could go on and on. A paragraph or two each barely even touches the surface for a lot of these players. That’s the funny thing about sports and the way we can find things to appreciate, even during the darkest of times. The last five years will largely be remembered for heartbreak and frustration, but look at all of the impressive feats these Rams achieved, or the great moments they’ll be remembered for. Wins and losses mean a lot but the legacies of this group will be much more complex than simply looking at the overall record. 

Sports, like life, aren’t always black and white. Sports are moments in time, they’re plays that stay with us forever. 30 years from now you may not remember the final score of the 2020 Border War, you’ll likely remember the way Trey McBride kicked their ass up and down the field though. Or on the flipside, the final score of the 2021 Utah State game really won’t matter years from now, but the wonky way CSU lost will. My point is we won’t remember every little detail, but the impact of a lot of these players will live on. 

Thanks for the memories, seniors. 

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