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August 7, 2009

Countdown to Camp: Receivers offer depth, talent

While the stats were impressive last season, the Colorado State wide receivers tended to draw the attention of Coach Steve Fairchild as a unit with limitless potential, but also one that needed to be on their game for the Rams to have success. Today, we look at this unit and what it brings to the offense.

Just for starters
Rashaun Greerwas the model of productivity last season as he accounted for 63 receptions for 1,114 yards, but just three touchdowns. He will seek to increase his productivity in big games (three catches against both Cal and Utah) and fulfill a potential that that Fairchild talks about to anyone that will listen. Greer was named to the Mountain West Conferences' pre-season team and expects to be one of the stars of a conference - not a bad distinction for a guy who never caught a pass in college prior to the 2008 season.

Had he not shared a passing game with Greer, Colorado State senior Dion Morton may have been the star of the CSU arial attack. Listed at 5-foot-10 and 163 pounds (choose to believe that if you will), Morton managed 51 catches for 859 yards and an amazing 10 touchdowns. Morton averaged 16.8 yards per reception. His biggest game of the year came against Wyoming when he turned six receptions into 160 yards and three touchdowns.

Last season's tight end, Kory Sperry caught 38 passes for 495 yards and six touchdowns. Sperry is now in the NFL and Eric Peitz will try to make the job his own. Last season he accounted for five receptions for 29 yards. Given the Rams' offensive scheme, he will have every opportunity to increase those numbers.

Where to put Zac Paugain this preview has been something of a challenge because figuring out where he lines up from play-to-play is a constant change. Pauga plays fullback, H-back, tight end and has proven himself a man willing to put his head down and make plays. Last season he caught 19 passes for 114 yards as a safety valve.

Back it up
While the starters are largely an experienced group, building depth in this unit will be very important given the fact Greer and Morton are both seniors. TJ Borckyis a very athletic former quarterback who looked good in his time as a wide receiver last season and is beginning to understand the position a little more every day. Borcky caught two passes last season. Jyrone Hickmancame in with a big reputation, but was hurt last season. Matt Yemmalways seems to get passes thrown his way during practice. Tyson Liggettsaw some time in the slot last season. Another group looking to make back-up slots their own include a group of Byron Steele, Marquise Law and Ryan Gardner. All of which are long and athletic and their development will benefit the Rams moving forward next year.

At tight end Norman Gee(6-foot-5, 258) and Adam Seymore(6-foot-4, 246 pounds) got plenty of reps during spring and caught most everything sent their way. However, they have two career pass receptions between them. Getting their reps will be key this fall.

Who are the new guys?
No wide receivers (yet) were recruited in this class, although a pair of tight ends made their way to Fort Collins. Joe Brownis a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder who is said to be a very underrated recruit from a year ago. Brown was athletic enough to point play guard for his high school basketball team last season and caught 1,700 yards worth of passes over the past two seasons. Joining Brown in this recruiting class is Cameron Moss, who stands 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds. The coaching staff seemed thrilled with his athletic ability, but he was underrated by the fact he caught just nine passes for 81 yards.

The bottom line
The Rams have the hands to make them dangerous and offer an easy welcome to whoever plays quarterback. Fairchild likes to tell the media that Greer doesn't even realize how good he can be. That is a scary thought for the Mountain West Conference. Morton is sneaky good and is an underrated part of the offense. Pietz seems like he can do the job after looking good during spring practice and Pauga is Pauga. Much of their production will depend on how the running back and quarterback battles shake out, but the tools are in place for a strong passing game in Fort Collins this season.


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