Colorado State University = Colorado

FORT COLLINS, Colorado- Before Friday’s game, Colorado State will honor 17 seniors, including many players Jay Norvell inherited and met in just one season.

That doesn’t lessen the impact they’ve made on the first-year coach’s program.

“I’m just very proud of her. I think we got some really great, honest work and commitment to the program from these guys,” Norvell said. “I was just talking to you Dequan Jackson on the field. Dequan is an excellent student, a guy who really took advantage of his education, and he’s also benefited from playing soccer here at CSU. He’s tried really hard to be a great example for the younger players and I think you have to acknowledge that. The guy really was a great example in difficult times and he is committed to this university and this program.

“I’ve told our younger players that they have a responsibility for guys like Dequan. Really the biggest gift you can give them is lots of attention and great preparation this week and a good game on Friday.”

Colorado State will honor Jackson David Agrey, Chigozie Anusiem, Dante Bivens, Michael Boyle, Cam’Ron Carter, Gray Davis, Troy Golden, Brandon Hickerson Rooks, Mohammed Kamara, Henry Katleman, Dontae key, Gregory Laday, Judge McCoyCJ Onyechi, Jacob Rab and Gary Williams.

A handful of them were only here one season while Jackson and Carter have toured together, playing as freshmen and working their way through numerous coaching changes and a global pandemic. They all have different stories. Gray has played at two schools but only for one coach; Jackson and Carter played for three different coaches at a school.

“There will be a part of me that feels like I deserve to be honored at the same event with guys who have only been with this program for six years, but I’m also thinking about how we go , the O-Line, the seniors leave a legacy,” said Davis, who attended the ceremony in Nevada last season. “I’ll probably be a Colorado State fan for life. I played here, so it will always mean something to me. I won’t have feelings for it just because I’ve only been here a year.”

Jackson’s time at Colorado State definitely means something to him. He’s captained every manager he’s played for and has always been a voice of reason in the dressing room, no matter the situation.

He’s pretty much seen it all, but he has no idea how his final college game day will affect him.

“Personally, I think I know my clock is ticking, so I paid attention and tried to make the most of every moment,” Jackson said. “I know it’s my last game. I’ve been thinking a bit, but I’m just concentrating on finishing, getting strong, and the rest will come after me. I don’t think too much about it yet. I just know it’s one of those things you can’t control, so I don’t even know how I’m gonna feel. I can be emotional, maybe not. I can only be happy, I can cry, I can’t cry. I dont know. Just get this over with and enjoy another chance to get dressed.

Norvell, noting that 12 of the 17 have already graduated and some are working on graduate degrees, reiterated that the sacrifice they made as student athletes often goes unseen.

Whether they continue to play football or not, his appreciation comes from what they’ve done with their time, whether at Colorado State or other schools.

“We have a guy, probably for the first time in my career, Michael Boyle, who will be completing his PhD in computer science in the spring,” Norvell said. “Those kids really need to be recognized and we want to do that on Friday and really recognize their hard work, sacrifice and dedication. Where there are so many examples of people not getting through, quitting who they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, I just think we need to acknowledge these kids who really sacrificed and worked hard to end their careers and graduate.

Immediate Recruitment

Not all 17 seniors need to say goodbye, a fact Norvell is keenly aware of, so he’s already started putting the virus in some players’ ears.

“I’ve already started some of them. I think one of the things about Covid and some transfer stuff is that players have choices; they have a lot of opportunities, and some of these guys have been in school for a long time,” Norvell said. “Some of them have families, others have children and wives. They have to make decisions: do they want to stay, do they want to take their chance in the NFL, do they want to go to work – many of them already have their degrees.

“There are a few that we would definitely have loved to get back to. They can make a real contribution to our program with their experience and those conversations have already started. I’ve already started working. Some of the best recruits you’ve are the guys that are already on your team and we want to keep all those guys.”

Norvell said there was no timeline for those decisions as exit meetings with position coaches would begin next week where those talks would expand.

Looks familiar

Davis was playing his first season in Nevada when Norvell was first hired, so he’s had a front-row seat at two places where his coach has begun changing a program.

What he’s seen with Colorado State this season seems to give him thought.

“The similarities are really the same. In Nevada, the roster, there was a huge change when Coach Norvell got there; there really wasn’t much depth,” Davis said. “It’s similar here, the same guys had to play no matter how broken or injured they were because that was all we had. That’s how it was here. Once there was another year where the young guys learned and built from what they learned the previous year, then comes a whole new recruiting class, there are a lot of similarities. It’s definitely the same record going into that final game.

In that first year in Nevada, the Wolf Pack defeated a UNLV team trying to qualify for the Bowl to earn their third win of the season. Colorado State is hoping for a third win, 2-9, over the New Mexico squad they have beaten 11 straight times.

A win in the last week can serve as a stepping stone to the next season that Gray has witnessed.

“I think if we get a win here, especially in a good way from the whole team where everyone’s finally working together and all 11 guys are doing their jobs consistently, I think it’s going to be a big step forward to achieve that.” jumping next year in Nevada happened,” he said. “I think we’ve got three wins in my freshman year in Nevada and eight wins next year. That’s a pretty big jump, and I think one Victory here would help make that happen next year.”