Dec. 5, 2013
FORT COLLINS – Just like Head Coach Jim McElwain established in his first season at Colorado State, the Rams had four game captains that rotated week-to-week in 2013. Those captains changed weekly as players established themselves as leaders both on and off the field.
Prior to the regular season finale against Air Force on Nov. 30, the team and coaching staff recognized four student-athletes as captains for the season, selecting senior LB Shaquil Barrett, senior DB Shaq Bell, junior LB Max Morgan and senior OL Weston Richburg.
These four served as team captains together for the first time against Air Force.
Barrett, a native of Baltimore, Md., has saved his best season for last as he finished the regular season ranked No. 3 nationally in tackles for loss (20.5) and sacks (12). His 20.5 tackles for loss are a Mountain West record. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker also made an impact on special teams for the Rams, blocking three kicks, the most by a CSU player since at least 1990.
Barrett earned several weekly awards throughout the season, including the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week after his week 4 performance against UTEP in which he recorded 13 tackles, including four tackles for loss and three sacks, and two forced fumbles.
“It means a lot to be voted as a season captain,” Barrett said. “There are a lot of guys that were deserving. Max (Morgan), Shaq (Bell) and Weston (Richburg), they are all deserving guys.”
Barrett went on about the fellow season captains.
“Max is one of the true leaders of the defense. He knows all the plays, all the calls and he communicates every play. Shaq is a great player. He plays hard and he gives it 100-percent every single play. I don’t see Shaq ever take a play off. I’m proud of Shaq because he had an amazing season. With Weston, there is nothing that can be said for Weston, he is an amazing player. He just goes out and does what he has to do. He learned the offense right away and took over from day one,” Barrett said.
Bell, who has played in 49 games in the green and gold, has played in all 13 games in 2013 registering 57 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for a loss. Bell’s 7.5 tackles for loss are the most by a Rams defensive back since 2007 when Joey Rucks had eight. The native of Kissimmee, Fla., demonstrated his versatility this season playing both corner and safety. This is his second-consecutive year being named a season captain.
“It’s a blessing to be selected as a captain by my teammates and brothers,” Bell said. “It means a lot to me. It shows that my brothers respect me as a football player and a leader, and what I do on the field is noticed.”
Morgan, a junior from Greeley, Colo., has started 12 of the Rams’ 13 contests and leads the team with 129 tackles. The coaching staff has praised Morgan for being the “quarterback of the defense,” calling the alignment and getting teammates in position. His 129 tackles are the most by a Ram defender since Willie Taylor’s 146 in 1996. Morgan scored his first career touchdown during CSU’s road victory at Hawai’i on Oct. 26, when he scooped up a loose ball and returned in 73 yards for the score.
Richburg anchored one of the most veteran offensive lines in the nation. Behind Richburg, an All-America candidate, the Rams have improved dramatically. CSU is averaging 202.7 yards per game on the ground, the most by a Rams rushing attack since 2002 (205.7). Richburg has recorded 45 knockdown blocks, while blocking on the only team with a 3,000-yard passer and 1,500-yard rusher. Quarterback Garrett Grayson, who has thrown for a program single-season record 3,327 yards, has only been sacked 20 times, the fewest by CSU since 2003. Like Bell, Richburg is a season captain for the second-consecutive year.
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