DENVER — Legends live on forever. 

Trey McBride leaves Colorado State as the program’s all-time leader in receptions (164) and receiving yards (2,100) by a tight end. With 1,121 receiving yards in 2021, McBride surpassed Dennis Pitta for the most in a single season by any Mountain West tight end. It was the fifth-most by any FBS tight end ever. 

On Monday McBride was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus. His season grade of 95.0 is the second-highest that anyone has ever received from PFF. Only Kyle Pitts at Florida graded higher and he was ultimately selected with the No. 4 overall pick of the NFL Draft. 

What the numbers show is what anyone that has ever watched him knows, that Trey McBride is one of the best to ever play the position collegiately. 

As impressive as his laundry list of accolades is — including being a three-time All-Mountain West selection and a finalist for the 2021 Mackey Award — the Fort Morgan product’s legacy is so much more significant than the stats that he put up or the recognition he receives on a national level. 

For the last couple of seasons, Trey and his brother, Toby McBride, were the faces of the CSU football program. Two of the most talented individuals on the field as well as the most influential leaders in the locker room, the McBride brothers were pretty much synonymous with CSU. You didn’t have to know much about the program to understand those two were monsters on the gridiron. 

Beyond their status and roles as captains for the squad, on a deeper level the McBrides were beacons of hope for Ram Nation. They were a tandem that Ram fans could be proud about through some extremely bleak times. 

Outside of a 2020 win over Wyoming, there just hasn’t been much for the fan base to brag about since 2017 or so. Beating Oregon State in the first-ever game at Canvas Stadium was a great moment for CSU and its die-hards. There have been some other fun games as well, including the Arkansas upset (2018). But the unfortunate reality is that it’s been a tough ride over the last half decade. 

Going back to 2016, CSU is 1-16 against Air Force, Boise State and Wyoming. The Rams have had no postseason wins since 2013. And although it’s been a few years since they’ve played now, CSU hasn’t had any luck with their rivals from Boulder either. It’s been hard for the proud supporters of the Green & Gold. That’s why the McBrides are so beloved by everyone in Fort Collins though. As rough as it’s been to root for the Rams at times, the fans have had a couple of local standouts to rally behind through it all. 

Nov 27, 2021; Trey McBride (85) celebrates a touchdown with his brother Toby McBride (0) in the third quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack. PHOTO: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Toby burst onto the scene as a true freshman in 2016, playing in 13 games, recording 32 tackles (seven for loss) and four sacks in the process. A back injury derailed his career in 2017 and ultimately prevented him from playing in all but six games over the next three seasons. Over the last two campaigns, however, the older McBride brother was able to remind everyone just how talented he is. 

Rocking the No. 0 jersey, the first player in program history to do so, Toby was a standout for CSU in the trenches alongside Scott Patchan and Manny Jones. From a production standpoint, he was solid with 51 total tackles (10.5 for loss) and a couple of sacks to his name over the 2020 and 2021 seasons. However, it was his leadership, toughness and relentless work ethic that really stood out. 

Injury rehabilitation and getting back on the field is a brutal process, both mentally and physically. Nobody would have blamed Toby if he chose to hang up his cleats years ago. Quitting just isn’t in the McBrides’ nature though. So he worked his tail off and ultimately cemented his status as one of the toughest people to ever suit up for the Green & Gold. And he got to do so with his brother by his side. 

Trey’s freshman year was in 2018 and it was clear from the start that he had the potential to be something special. In a blowout loss at Florida, No. 85 flashed his raw athleticism with a 48-yard touchdown reception from K.J. Carta-Samuels. Then, as a sophomore in 2019, McBride really broke out with 45 receptions for 560 yards and four touchdowns. He earned first-team All-Mountain West honors for his impressive season. 

With Mike Bobo getting canned after a 4-8 finish in 2019, many feared that Trey would leave for a bigger program. He definitely had the opportunity to. But Trey elected to remain a Ram. He stayed committed to his home state and his school. And he embraced the opportunity to compete with Toby for what he thought would be the final time in 2020. 

After leading the team in scoring with four touchdown receptions in the four games that CSU got to play in a Pandemic-impacted year, again, most assumed that No 85 would move on either to the NFL or a Power 5 program. Once again, though, Trey remained a Ram and the ‘Brothers McBride’ returned for one last dance in 2021. 

Toby (0) and Trey McBride hang out on the sideline on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins.

As made evident by his production and popularity amongst NFL Draft circles, the decision to return for another season is likely going to pay off in a major way for Trey. PFF loves him. ESPN’s Todd McShay has him projected as a top 30 prospect as well. So while he technically could have played at CSU in 2022 too, unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. 

“It’s just bittersweet that my time here is done,” Trey told reporters following Saturday’s loss to Nevada. “I wish I could play here forever, but it’s my time to leave. I love this place. I love Fort Collins. I can’t express that enough. I’m very thankful I came back. It’s been a privilege and an honor to wear the Green & Gold these last four years.”

Trey continued, not about his individual success, but about how thankful he is for all of his teammates and coaches. He talked about the selflessness of his teammates running routes “100 miles per hour” to help get him open. He emphasized that without those guys giving their all to sell the plays, he wouldn’t have been able to accomplish everything he did. 

“It’s a bond that will never be broken. The friendships that I’ve built here at CSU (are) special and something that I’ll cherish for a lifetime.”

Now that their playing days are over, there will no doubt be a void left behind. Players like the McBrides don’t come along very often, so expecting someone to fill their shoes is a tall task. 

While I don’t know who will take over as the face of CSU football, what I do know is that we were all fortunate to have been able to watch the McBrides up close for this long. There’s an entire generation of kids that will forever revere them as the players that got them interested in college football; kinda like what Bradlee Van Pelt and Cecill Sapp did for a young Justin Michael 

And for those that are football aficionados, they know that what they saw on a weekly basis was not normal. The talent, the drive, the passion — the McBrides are a rare breed. I’ll greatly miss watching them in Fort Collins, but look forward to seeing them succeed in their future endeavors.

To Trey and Toby, for all of Ram Nation, thank you. 

Justin Michael
Author

Justin has been covering Colorado State athletics since 2015 & has been featured in multiple national outlets. Along with keeping up with the Mountain West, Justin loves the local teams and has been going to Broncos games since he was six years old. Follow Justin on Twitter - @JustinTMichael

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