Kapri Bibbs (Chicago Tribune)
Feb. 2, 2011
Signing Day storylines...
Weather or not: The historic storm making headlines across much of the country, especially in the Midwest where the Rams have several recruits, has affected delivery of the paperwork required for individual Rams signees to complete before CSU could announce their signings Wednesday.
The first letter: According to Linda Krier, Steve Fairchild's administrative assistant, the first letter to arrive in the McGraw Center was that of QB Conner Smith, time stamped at exactly 6 a.m. MST. His letter was followed by that of TE Blake Jones at 6:10 a.m. and K/P Keenan Adams at 6:12 a.m. The NCAA allows Division I-eligible athletes in football, track, hockey, soccer and men's water polo to declare their future plans beginning at 7 a.m. in the player's time zone, on the first February Wednesday.
Back to Colorado: The Rams have always emphasized their home state in recruiting, and this year, that continued effort has paid off. CSU landed three of the state's top 11 prospects, according to the Denver Post, in RB Dorian Brown (No. 5), DE Joe Kawulok (No. 10), and OL/DL Justin Hansen (No. 11). Additionally, Kapri Bibbs was born in Colorado Springs.
Battling adversity: New CSU lineman Justin Hansen, one of the state's highest ranked recruits, started on both sides of the ball at Longmont High School the past two years. He's now earned a major-college football scholarship and he's done it after battling Asperger's Syndrome, a disorder on the autism spectrum.An accomplished heavyweight wrestler, Hansen hopes to compete for the Class 4A state championship later this month at the Pepsi Center. He's also played basketball for Longmont, and earned all-conference recognition in track as a thrower.
Special parents: Coaches and players aren't the only beaming people associated with Signing Day today. The smiles of parents might be the brightest. And a few of the individuals some of the newest CSU signings know as their parents, are smiling even brighter, because of how far their families have come, and what they've had to overcome, to reach this day. While they may not be biological parents, they have no less love and pride for their sons.
Inspiration: Eight games into a promising senior season at Del Rio (Texas) High School, Cory James sustained a torn ACL. Devastated, the linebacker needed to look no farther than his own home for inspiration in overcoming the surgery and months of rehab. James' mom, Sheila, is a paraplegic, and his dad, Clarence, has faithfully supported and taken care of her since the car accident paralyzed her nearly two years ago.
Hitting close to home: The January 2010 earthquake in Haiti had a direct impact on new signee Kevin Pierre-Louis. Pierre-Louis, whose brother Wondy won two national championships at Florida under former CSU assistant Urban Meyer, is a first-generation American. His parents, aunts, uncles and cousins, are from Haiti. His family lost its home due to the devastating quake. Long before the quake, Kevin began living with his oldest brother and legal guardian, Jayden Richards. They moved from New York City to Del Rio, Texas, where Richards began working for the U.S. Border Patrol, just before Kevin began high school.
Dust off that FAX machine: The signing day process actually gives value to technology that is quickly becoming obsolete -- the FAX machine. The FAX is critical on signing day because it allows a school's compliance department to proof the paperwork before giving the media relations office permission to announce the signing. Without the FAX, the process would be delayed by at least 24 hours. Colorado State still asks its signees to send the letter via overnight mail, because the school needs to submit the materials to the MWC.
Orlando to Fort Collins pipeline: Pat Meyer used his eye for talent to spot Orlando Jones LB Steven Michel, another athlete with special parents. Michel, who keeps in touch with his mom, Elucia Michel, lives with his godfather and godmother, Lorenzo and LeTecia Edwards. He wore No. 4 in high school in honor of his father, who passed away when Steven was only 4 years old. Michel owns a 3.2 GPA at Jones, an International Baccalaureate World School that has dramatically improved its academics over the past several years. Michel's head coach at Jones was Kenard Lang, the former University of Miami (Fla.) fullback that played in the NFL for the Redskins, Browns and Broncos. Both Lang and Meyer believe the Rams got a steal in Michel.
Four-for-four: Ted and Kim Kawulok, with CSU's signing of Joe Kawulok Wednesday, have incredibly now had four sons earn Division I football scholarships. And, despite playing at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colo., just down the road from Folsom Field, three of the sons -- Chris, Michael and now Joe -- have chosen to play for the Rams.
DT:Donnell Alexander was not close to his biological dad, but shows similar athleticism. Alexander's father is the late Derrick Thomas, who still holds the NFL's single-game record with seven sacks. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009 after an 11-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs, who made him the fourth overall selection in the 1989 NFL Draft, out of Alabama
Band of brothers: The additions of Joe Kawulok and Beau and Drew Reilly in 2011 give the Rams four sets of brothers on the active roster, joining T.J. and Bobby Borcky and Austin and Crockett Gillmore, although Beau Reilly is expected to depart on an LDS mission this fall and return to enroll in the 2014 spring semester. All told, 17 sets of brothers have been in the program since Sonny Lubick became head coach in 1993:
|Name, Pos||Years||Hometown||High School|
|T.J. Borcky, QB/WR||2007-||Orlando, Fla.||Lake Highland Prep|
|Bobby Borcky, ATH||2010-|
|Mack Craft, CB||1992-95||Denver, Colo.||East|
|Jason Craft, CB||1997-98|
|Justin Gallimore, CB||1999-01||Wheat Ridge, Colo.||Wheat Ridge|
|Jason Gallimore, CB||1999-01|
|Austin Gillmore, LB||2010-||Bushland, Texas||Bushland|
|Crockett Gillmore, DE||2010-|
|Jeff Horinek, LB||2004-08||Atwood, Kan.||Atwood|
|Deone Horinek, P||1998-99|
|Chris Kawulok, TE||2004-08||Boulder, Colo.||Monarch|
|Michael Kawulok, LB||2008-|
|Joe Kawulok, DL||2011-|
|Klint Kubiak, DB||2005-09||Englewood, Colo.||Regis|
|Klay Kubiak, QB||2007-|
|Wade Landers, DE||2005-08||Durango, Colo.||Durango|
|Jake Landers, DL||2008|
|Kevin McDougal, RB||1994-96||Arvada, Colo.||Arvada West|
|Matt McDougal, K/P||1996-99|
|Damon Morton, WR||2004-07||Riverside, Calif.||North|
|Dion Morton, DB||2005-09|
|Nathan Pauly, LB||2003-07||Conway Springs., Kan.||Conway Spgs.|
|Eric Pauly, LB||2000-03|
|Morgan Pears, OL||1999-02||Denver, Colo.||Kennedy|
|Erik Pears, OL||2000-04|
|Drew Reilly, DB||2011-||Valley Center, Calif.||Valley Center|
|Beau Reilly, QB||2011-|
|Brady Schneider, DB||1993-96||Arvada, Colo.||Pomona|
|Brian Schneider, LB||1990-93|
|Aaron Sprague, DB||1998-01||Holyoke, Colo.||Holyoke|
|Russell Sprague, WR||2000-03|
|Ben Stratton, DB||2002-06||Cheyenne, Wyo.||East|
|Dane Stratton, OL||2004-08|
|Alex Stratton, S||2008-|
|Bob Vomhof, DE||2003-07||Gillette, Wyo.||Campbell Cty.|
|Mike Vomhof, DE||2001-05|
Same-class brothers: Unique circumstances had to fall into place in order for the Rams to land brothers Drew and Beau Reilly in the same class. Drew initially signed by the Rams out of Valley Center (Calif.) High School in 2008, just returned from his LDS mission and enrolled at CSU this term. He'll compete for playing time immediately as a 21-year-old true freshman. Younger brother Beau, who guided Valley Center to consecutive CIF state championship berths the past two seasons, will follow in his brother's footsteps and depart on a mission this fall. He's expected to return, like his brother, and enroll at CSU in the spring of 2014.
Tulsa to Siberia: New CSU tight end Blake Jones is an exceptional student that helped Tulsa Union, the school that produced former Rams starter Blake Smith, dominate the state of Oklahoma the past three years. One of his teammates might follow him to the Mountain West and see him on the gridiron whenever the Rams meet Air Force. Unfortunately, Blake's dad, Bobby, could only see about half of his games. That's because his career with an oil company takes him from Tulsa to Siberia every 21 days. The 52-hour trip requires five modes of transportation, including two planes, a bus and helicopter.
Strike: Chicago Offensive Player of the Year Kapri Bibbs, one of the headliners of the Rams' Class of 2011, isn't your average multi-sport athlete.
Other unique sports: Don't be surprised to hear announcers call Nu'vali Fa'apito's name (hopefully, the announcers will read the pronunciation guides provided by the CSU sports information office) after officials unpile bodies scrambling for a fumble. That's because Fa'apito, whose name means painted village in Samoan, is also a rugby player. A linebacker in the fall at La Quinta High School near Palm Springs, Calif., he helped inaugurate his school's newest varsity spring sport, rugby, and loves it.
Tukey shoot: New kicker/punter Keenan Adams, from Bainbridge, Ga., is already a household name in the sport of turkey shooting. A world champion archer and rifleman, Adams has become the world's youngest hunter to accomplish the World Slam, bagging a wild turkey from every major species.
Loyalty: When Tampa, Fla., product Charles Lovett sees his name on the new CSU roster in 2011, he'll probably feel relief that it lists only one position, wide receiver. That's because Lovett, one of the most prolific receivers in city history through his junior season, carried a huge load for his Hillsborough team as a senior. After his 2009 campaign, Lovett had a chance as a senior to break nearly every career receiving record in Florida annals.
Same-name players: The addition of Texas QB Conner Smith gives the Rams two players with the same name. Smith joins senior-to-be Connor Smith, another Texas product, at CSU in 2011. The older Smith is an offensive lineman.
Investment: Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on the viewpoint, an injury to a high-school football player can significantly affect his recruitment. CSU, which saw TE Kory Sperry overcome a torn ACL to become an all-conference tight end as a senior and play in the NFL, signed six players Wednesday that lost all or part of their junior or senior seasons due to injury. After doing their homework, and diligently investing the time and research to ensure the signees have an excellent chance to be successful in Fort Collins, the Rams are ecstatic to welcome them into the program.
Typically the best athletes: CSU believes that running backs and quarterbacks are many times the best athletes on a high-school football team.
From Rams to Rams: Zac Pauga, who leaves a gaping void in the Rams' backfield as he prepares for the NFL, was a Ram in high school at Green Mountain in Lakewood, Colo. There are several such high schools across the country, and one of them, Del Rio in Texas, just gave the CSU Rams two more players: LB Cory James and DB Kevin Pierre-Louis.
Speaking of teammates: James and Pierre-Louis are the seventh set of teammates signed by CSU since 2004:
2006:Ricky Brewer and Josh Dorsey: Mullen HS; Denver, Colo.
Unique connection: When Steve Fairchild came to CSU as a junior-college quarterback in 1978, one of his teammates was a walk-on kicker named Mark Mangelsen. Mangelsen's sister, Kim, is the mother of RB Dorian Brown.
NFL genetics: Colorado State now has six players, including brothers T.J. and Bobby Borcky, whose fathers played in the NFL.
How's this for a kicker?: Dallas Kimball defensive tackle Isiah Norton, 6-foot-6 and 295 pounds, was his team's kicker.
Position changes: Now that recruiting is complete, the Rams will shift their attention to spring ball. And with every spring comes positon changes. The only position Head Coach Steve Fairchild is certain will change is that of senior-to-be Elijah-Blu Smith. The starting free safety the last two-plus years will shift back to his natural position, cornerback. As the staff prepares for spring ball, it is expected to make more position changes.
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