The Field House. College Sports coverage from The Denver Post’s Kyle Fredrickson.
The Colorado State Rams return to the practice field on Monday to kick off spring drills. Here is a closer look at five players with the most to prove in 2018.
Quarterback J.C. Robles
When presumed starting quarterback Collin Hill re-tore his ACL, Robles became the most veteran passer on the roster. But that’s not saying much. Robles, a junior, appeared in four games over the past two seasons as a backup doing mop-up duty. At 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, it appears Robles has the frame and arm strength to thrive. Can he take the next step and secure the starting job should Hill be unable to play in Week 1 against Hawaii?
Quarterback Justice McCoy
Robles isn’t the only quarterback on CSU’s roster capable of earning the starting gig. McCoy, a redshirt freshman, has a high school pedigree that shows promise. McCoy was the No. 24-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the nation as a senior at Saint Augustine (New Orleans) in 2016. McCoy does not have elite size at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds. It’s his athleticism that makes him a wild card candidate to start.
Wide receiver Preston Williams
How do you replace a NFL talent at receiver in Michael Gallup? By inserting a talented FBS transfer, of course. Williams arrived in Fort Collins last fall after two seasons at Tennessee and sat out 2017 due to NCAA transfer rules. Williams appeared in 12 games with three starts for the Volunteers with 16 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns. He is also a former five-star rated prospect out of Lovejoy (Ga.) High School. Williams (6-4, 210) must show he’s worthy of the hype. He can start by having a strong spring camp.
Defensive lineman Ellison Hubbard
Hubbard was one of only five true freshmen to play in all 13 games last season. He had 20 sacks, two tackles and four quarterback hurries. Two of the Rams three starters up front last season, Jakob Buys and Darnell Thompson, have graduated — leaving the door open for a breakout season by Hubbard. CSU struggled mightily at times last fall stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback. Hubbard’s strength at 6-foot-1, 270 pounds should be a major asset.
Linebacker Emmanuel Jones
CSU lost the heartbeat of its defense with the graduation of outside linebacker Evan Colorito. Jones served as his backup in 2017 as a true freshman and finished with 35 tackles (six for loss) and two sacks. Jones turned down a scholarship offer from Purdue out of Woodland (Ga.) High School and is a physical force at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds.