Feb. 24, 2011
By Zak Gilbert
Athletic Media Relations
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - What do Philip Rivers and Pete Thomas have in common?
Well, aside from quarterbacking San Diego squads to championship games, and running virtually the same pro-style offense for their respective teams -- the San Diego Chargers and Colorado State Rams -- they also enjoyed stellar individual seasons for teams that struggled in 2010.
And, most importantly, both are looking to turn the page and begin the road toward padding the statistical category they care about most: Wins.
For Thomas and the rest of his teammates, the page-turning takes a major step in exactly one month when the Rams open 2011 spring practice, March 24 at CSU's practice facility. The annual spring game is April 23 at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, with the game beginning at approximately 11 a.m.
The NCAA allows contact in 12 of those sessions. Eight of those 12 can involve tackling, and three of those eight can be devoted primarily to 11-on-11 scrimmages.
All outdoor sessions are on the fields south of Moby Arena, or at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, and are expected to be free and open to the public and media. However, due to space limitations, practices moved inside the Indoor Practice Facility will be closed to the public and media. Check with the CSU athletic media relations office for confirmation.
The practice schedule
The following are the 2011 spring practice dates (all days, times and locations subject to change with little or no notice):
Thu., March 24 - Practice #1 (7:15 a.m., helmets)
Sat., March 26 - Practice #2 (1:30-3:40 p.m., helmets)
Sun., March 27 - Practice #3 (10 a.m., full pads)
Tue., March 29 - Practice #4 (7:15 a.m., full pads)
Thu., March 31 - Practice #5 (7:15 a.m., full pads)
Fri., April 1 -Practice #6 (6 p.m., stadium)
Tue., April 5 - Practice #7 (7:15 a.m., full pads)
Thu., April 7 - Practice #8 (7:15 a.m., full pads)
Sat., April 9 - Scrimmage/Practice #9 (9 a.m., stadium)
Tue., April 12 - Practice #10 (7:15 a.m., full pads)
Thu., April 14 - Practice #11 (7:15 a.m., helmets)
Fri., April 15 - Scrimmage/Practice #12 (4 p.m., stadium)
Tue., April 19 - Practice #13 (7:15 a.m., full pads)
Thu., April 21 - Practice #14 (7:15 a.m., full pads)
Sat., April 23 - Spring Game/Practice #15 (approx. 11 a.m., stadium)
Fri., April 29 - Rams Superstars Competition, Moby Arena (free, evening TBA)
Rivers, in town Tuesday to address the Rams after their early morning mat drills and spend the day with CSU's offensive coaches, also knows how Thomas felt last season, starting as a true freshman. In 2000 at North Carolina State, Rivers started every game for the Wolfpack right out of high school, something Thomas did 10 years later at CSU. While true freshmen starting at quarterback has become fairly common, very few start every game as a first-year competitor.
Often compared to Rivers in makeup, intangibles and ability, Thomas set a single-season school record in completing 64.7 percent of his passes. Rivers, meanwhile, led the NFL with 4,710 passing yards. Both players missed the postseason.
But 2011, at least in Fort Collins, is looking much more different than last season. The most obvious contrast is Thomas, who will become the first quarterback to return as the CSU starter since 2007, when Caleb Hanie - who nearly led the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl last month - returned for his senior year. The Rams started fifth-year seniors in both 2008 (Billy Farris) and 2009 (Grant Stucker).
In front of Thomas will be four returning starters on the offensive line, including Freshman All-American Weston Richburg and senior all-conference tackle Paul Madsen. Last season, CSU had one returning starter up front.
And, perhaps the most notable difference between this season and last year, CSU will practice early in the morning, not in the afternoons. Each weekday spring practice will begin at 7:30 a.m., while four Saturday practices are tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m. Locations and times are subject to change with little or no notice.
The NCAA-allowed 15-practices within a mandated 34-day period also provides several redshirt freshmen from an outstanding 2010 recruiting class with their first chance to earn fall playing time, including cornerback Bernard Blake, wide receiver Kivon Cartwright, wide receiver Thomas Coffman, defensive tackle John Froland, safety Austin Gray, defensive lineman Charles Green, offensive lineman Mason Hathaway, safety Najee James, linebacker Max Morgan, center Mason Myers, linebacker Eric Niederberger and offensive linemen Ty Sambrailo, Christian Stefo and Alex Tucci.
Camps and clinics
CSU also will hold six clinics and camps, sponsored by Shred-It, throughout spring and summer, beginning with the annual coaches clinic (April 9). For more information, visit www.ramcamps.colostate.edu, or call 970/491-6131.
The annual Rams Superstars Competition, at which Mike Orakpo first made a name for himself in 2010, is April 29 at Moby Arena. Freshmen report for fall camp on Aug. 2, followed by veterans on Aug. 3. Fall practice begins Aug. 4.
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