December 2, 2010

Position analysis: Defensive line

As we look to next football season, we do a positional analysis to see what the recruiting needs remain for the Colorado State Rams. Today, we take a look at the Defensive ends and linemen of the Rams as we head into the off-season.

Who is leaving:  The production of the defensive line may be hit as hard as any unit on the Colorado State roster due to the loss of two players - Guy Millerand Ty Whittier. Miller was the first defensive player for the Rams to garner first team All-Conference honors since 2003. He scored 6.5 sacks this season, 35 tackles and 18 quarterback hurries. Ty Whittier was probably better suited as a defensive end, but sacrificed for the team by moving inside. The Wellington native leaves CSU a three-year letterwinner. After being moved from tight end, Adam Seymore saw action in all 12 games at defensive end this year, collecting 14 tackles and three quarterback hurries.

Who will return:  The Colorado State defensive line will look a lot different next season than it did this year. At defensive tackle, Nuku Latu (10 tackles last season) returns the most experience. He will be joined for his senior season by Eugene Daniels, who injured his shoulder the last week in August. Te'Jay Brown saw a little action last year, but past that there is no experience returning in the Rams' defensive interior line.

On the outside, the Rams will return the services of Zach Tiedgen, who showed promise early in his career before injuring his knee playing basketball last spring, as well as Davis Burll (22 tackles, 3 quarterback hurries), Broderick Sargent (37 tackles, 2.0 sacks) and CJ James (25 tackles, 1.5 sacks) - all of whom have starting experience. Crockett Gillmore(11 tackles, 1 sack) also played in nine games as a true freshmen. However, this is a group that, frankly, is a little mismatched and still growing into its position. Much of the group is somewhat undersized and none of them - aside from James - were recruited to play defensive end.

Coming up the depth chart:  Tackle Te'Jay Brown (6-foot-2, 258) will have been in the program for two seasons complete by August and should be ready to take some snaps for the Rams. Past that, there are a number of freshmen and redshirt freshmen who will need to step up including Curtis Wilson, Trevor Murphy, Charles Green, John Froland and Nordly Capi. Murphy's size (6-foot-3, 290) may help him find playing time on the interior line and break into the depth chart sooner than the rest. Gillmore showed flashes last season, but could use an off-season in a college weight program.

Whose in the boat in the class of 2011:  Currently, the Rams have a pair of defensive tackles committed in the Class of 2011 and one defensive end.

Cape Coral (Fla.) defensive tackle, Bryan Bosworth has flown a little under-the-radar during his recruitment, pulling in a two-star ranking by Rivals.com. The Rivals.com's Brian Perroni saw Bosworth earlier this season and offered that he had a quick first step off the line and was able to get pressure on the quarterback. He also read play-action well and stuffed the run. The scouting report also said he may not be 6-foot-1, as advertised and will be to add some mass and re-distribute some of his weight before he is ready to play at the next level. That likely means a redshirt year for Bosworth.

Fellow defensive tackle recruit, Ardarius Raynerr stands 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds and is talented enough to have BCS-level schools Iowa State and Indiana offer scholarships as well. Louisville (Colo.) defensive end Joe Kawulokwill join his brother, Mike, at CSU next season and bring some size to the position at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. The Monarch High School senior was ranked as the number 12 prospect in Colorado this year regardless of position and picked CSU over offers from SMU, Utah and San Diego State.

Whose still out there:   In theory, Colorado State isn't looking real hard for another defensive tackle. Going into next year, the Rams will have two seniors, two sophomores, two redshirt freshmen and two incoming freshmen - both of whom came to Fort Collins highly touted. However, that hasn't stopped them from taking a look at what is out there. Of the known scholarship offers, Florida tackle, Drakkar Wilsonhas expressed some interest and is likely to visit. Logan Williamson received an offer from the Rams last summer, but the Rams' interest seems to have waned somewhat and it is unlikely he ends up in Fort Collins.

Colorado State is very likely to take two linebackers, which could become defensive ends. Eddie Yarbrough fits into that category of a player who could play either position. Horace Arkadle has an offer from CSU, but seems interested in Purdue or Virginia. Linebacker recruits Javonte Berry and Tevin Newman have defensive end experience, but Berry wants to be closer to home and Newman would have to put on a lot of weight to his 190-pound frame to realistically play the position in college. The Rams would have to pull off a major coup to get either DeVante Wilson or Ian Seau to Fort Collins.

Analysis:  The Rams' inability to consistently get pressure on the quarterback has been a big part of their pass defense troubles over the past three seasons. The Rams accounted for a total of 21 sacks this season and gave up an average of 225 yards per game through the air and an astounding 69 percent completion percentage. Much of that had to do with a lack of pressure on the passer. Of the 21 sacks Colorado State defenders posted last season, 10 came from linebackers, leaving just 11 spread out over the Ram defensive line. Of those 11 sacks, 6.5 came from Guy Miller, meaning 4.5 sacks return for Colorado State this season. The depressing thing for Ram fans is the fact it seems to be a re-building year up front and there aren't many names fans have heard of prior to this spring.

Defensive line is traditionally one of the toughest positions to recruit due to the nature of the position, as well as the fact it can be tough to project size changes in high school athletes as they move on to college. Whether CSU hasn't been able to recruit a strong defensive line to Fort Collins over the past three years, or develop the guys they have gotten is open to debate, but the level of production will have to increase if the Rams are to improve upon their 3-9 record of a year ago.

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