Dec. 6, 2011
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – For the second consecutive season, CSU’s defensive line has produced a first-team all-conference performer.
This time, however, he’s the youngest CSU player to earn first-team honors since All-American Greg Myers in 1993.
Nordly Capi, a true sophomore, garnered first-team accolades. He joined second-team selections Chris Nwoke, Crockett Gillmore, Paul Madsen, Weston Richburg and Pete Kontodiakos, as well as honorable-mention choices Shaquil Barrett James Skelton and Momo Thomas on the official all-conference list released Tuesday by the Mountain West. Senior defensive tackle Guy Miller earned first-team selection in 2010.
A 6-3, 248-pound defensive end from Ocoee, Fla., Capi finished the college football regular season tied for eighth in the nation with 0.83 sacks per game, and second in the country with 0.58 forced fumbles per contest, leading the Mountain West in both categories. His 10 sacks tied for fifth on the Rams’ all-time single-season list, the most by a Ram since future Super Bowl champions Joey Porter (14) and Clark Haggans (10) combined for 24 in 1998.
Capi, who led the nation in sacks after five of the first six weekends, was named midseason defensive MVP of the Mountain West by ESPN.com on Oct. 10, and on Oct. 21 the third-best overall player in the league at midseason, behind QB Kellen Moore and RB Ronnie Hillman, by CollegeFootballNews.com.
A raw but enormously talented true sophomore, he played in 12 games with seven starts, posting 34 total stops (25 solo), 11½ tackles for loss, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery, in addition to his 10 sacks and seven forced fumbles.
Humongous in CSU’s season-opening win at New Mexico (Sept. 3), Capi enjoyed one of the finest days by a defensive lineman in college football history. He established the NCAA single-game record with four forced fumbles, breaking the previous mark of three held by 10 players, and none were more important than the record-setter. His fourth forced fumble ensured the Rams would break an 11-game road losing streak; with nine seconds remaining and the Lobos at the Rams' 15-yard line, he stripped QB Tarean Austin and recovered the fumble himself. For his efforts, he garnered not only Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week honors, but also the Nagurski national Defensive Player of the Week (from the football writers), landing him on the watch list for the Nagurski Trophy.
In an exhilarating win at Utah State (Sept. 24), he wasted no time padding his nation-leading sack numbers, patiently pursuing dangerous QB Chuckie Keeton to force a punt on the Aggies’ first drive. He also registered a sack in a fourth straight game, extending the longest CSU streak in 13 years, since Haggans’ five-game streak (Sept. 26-Oct. 24, 1998).
Capi matched that Haggans streak a week later, in a 38-31 loss vs. San Jose State (Oct. 1), with a fourth-quarter sack in which he forced a fumble with the game knotted at 31. He also recorded three hurries, one that forced a second-quarter punt, and tackled RB Brandon Rutley on third down to force another punt just before intermission.
He saw his team-record-tying sack streak end in the loss vs. then-No. 5 Boise State (Oct. 15), which entered the game tied for first in the nation in sacks allowed/game. Capi wound up sharing the five-game record with Haggans (1998), Sean Moran (1994) and Brady Smith (1994); he still picked up a QB hurry to force one of only four incompletions by Heisman candidate Kellen Moore.
The last time a CSU sophomore earned first-team all-conference honors was punter Jimmie Kaylor in 2005, his redshirt sophomore campaign. Since Myers did it as a true sophomore in 1993, in addition to Kaylor, the only other sophomore first-team all-conference performers at CSU were TE Joel Dreesen (2002) and RB Cecil Sapp (2000). Both players used a redshirt year prior to the award.
Capi’s last name is pronounced KAPP-ee.
Nwoke, a 6-0, 215-pound sophomore from Highlands Ranch, Colo., had two of the 14 best rushing games by any FBS player this season, including the No. 4 performance, a Hughes Stadium-record 269 yards vs. Air Force (Nov. 26). His 232 yards against San Diego State (Nov. 12) ranked 14th in the country, making him the first CSU player ever with multiple 200-yard rushing games in the same season.
With 94.2 rushing yards/game, Nwoke (pronounced WOH-kay) ranked third in the conference, while his 122.6 rushing yards/conference game were second.
One of just six individuals with multiple 200-yard rushing games this season, joining Oregon’s LaMichael James (3), Western Kentucky’s Bobby Rainey (3), Baylor’s Terrance Ganaway (2), Pitt’s Ray Graham (2) and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (2), Nwoke owned the top two individual rushing efforts this season by an MW player.
He also authored one of five individual seasons in conference history to include multiple 200-yard rushing efforts, joining SDSU’s Larry Ned (three in 2001), Air Force’s Chad Hall (two in 2007), SDSU’s Ronnie Hillman (two in 2010), and SDSU’s Lynell Hamilton (two in 2003). In the conference record book, Nwoke now owns the most rushing yards in a single game by a non-senior, breaking the mark held by New Mexico’s DonTrell Moore, 242, his sophomore season vs. Colorado State (Nov. 7, 2003). The 269 yards also were the most by any player in a conference game, eclipsing the record held by Air Force’s Chad Hall, 256, at Colorado State (Oct. 13, 2007).
Additionally, he became the first CSU player to earn multiple MW Player of the Week honors in the same season since QB Bradlee Van Pelt also won the award twice in 2003. The conference also recognized Nwoke for his game-tying and go-ahead touchdowns in a memorable, 35-34 triumph in double overtime, Sept. 24 at Utah State. Nwoke’s 232 rushing yards vs. San Diego State Nov. 12 may have earned him a third honor, if not for the effort of TCU QB Casey Pachall in a 36-35 win at then-No. 5 Boise State earlier in the day. Pachall not only earned MW honors, he also picked up national Offensive Player of the Week recognition from the Walter Camp foundation.
Nwoke is CSU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since MW rushing champion Gartrell Johnson (1,476) in 2008, and the 19th overall. An all-around weapon, he also extended the longest active reception streak on the team to 13 games, including a catch in all 12 contests this year.
Gillmore, a 6-6, 244-pound sophomore from Bushland, Texas, was among leading conference tight ends with 3.75 receptions per game and four touchdown catches. Having shifted from defensive end to tight end just nine days before the spring game, and heading into fall camp as the Rams’ No. 1 tight end, he started all 12 games, catching 45 passes for 468 yards to become the first tight end to lead the Rams in receiving since All-American Keli McGregor in 1984.
Having earned a spot on the midseason watch list of the John Mackey Award, Oct. 17, he also was selected first-team midseason all-conference by CollegeFootballNews.com on Oct. 21.
Gillmore made his offensive debut at New Mexico (Sept. 3), making his first career catch in the second quarter, followed by a leaping 33-yard touchdown, CSU’s first of 2010 and the initial score of his career, late in the first half. In the Denver loss vs. Colorado (Sept. 17), he caught five passes for 84 yards, including a 23-yard fourth-quarter touchdown from WR Charles Lovett, off a Pete Thomas lateral. On the first CSU drive in the Buffs contest, he took a screen 34 yards to set up the Rams’ first touchdown, and later, in the third quarter, converted a third-and-11 with a 12-yard reception, setting up his TD reception from Lovett.
The big athlete also played a lead role in helping CSU to a memorable, 35-34 triumph in double overtime at Utah State (Sept. 24). First, with 42 seconds left after CSU had just pulled to 21-19 with a Nwoke TD run, even after the Rams committed a 5-yard false-start penalty, he essentially caught an 8-yard pass from Thomas for a two-point conversion that sent the game to overtime. Then, in the first overtime period, he caught a 7-yard TD in the back of the end zone that knotted the score again. On Nwoke’s TD at the end of regulation, Gillmore somehow blocked two Utah State defenders at the point of attack.
Madsen, a 6-4, 309-pound senior from the Bay Area of California, was a preseason all-conference selection, and played and started 11 games, despite battling both a sprained medial-collateral ligament in his knee and a high-ankle sprain. He owned 35 knockdown blocks, 14 outstanding efforts, and eight “Meyer mauls,” the coveted game-film honor distributed by offensive coordinator/line coach Pat Meyer. He also only allowed two sacks all season and graded out at 85 percent or better in every game. Dominant in the run game, he paved the way for an estimated 70 percent of the Rams’ running game, which includes a 1,000-yard rusher, Nwoke. A team captain, Madsen started at New Mexico (Sept. 3) in the season-opening win, making a lead block on Chris Nwoke’s game-winning touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Before the win at Utah State (Sept. 24), he returned to the weakside tackle post vacated by Joe Caprioglio (knee) and quietly helped the Rams to a 35-34 triumph in double OT, assisting Nwoke (11 carries, 47 yards, two TD on final three possessions) to MW Offensive Player of the Week honors as CSU erased a 21-13 deficit in the final minute of regulation.
Madsen left early in the second quarter of the loss vs. then-No. 5 Boise State (Oct. 15) with an MCL injury and did not return, missed just one game, then returned to the lineup at UNLV (Oct. 29) and helped the Rams to 250 rushing yards, including 156 from Nwoke.
Richburg, a 6-4, 300-pound sophomore also from Bushland, Texas, started all 12 games, 10 at center and two at tackle. He missed just only limited snaps after breaking his right (snapping) hand in fourth quarter of the San Diego State game (Nov. 12). Quickly casted in locker room, he returned to the sideline prepared to play in overtime, but CSU lost on a last-second field goal, 18-15.
Until his season finale, vs. Wyoming (Dec. 3), when he snapped left-handed with a club on his broken right hand, he did not have a bad snap all season. He finished the year with 61 knockdowns and 23 outstanding efforts, along with 19 “Meyer mauls.” Additionally, he graded out better than 90 percent in every game this year, dominating every player he went against, earning most valuable lineman honors in 11 CSU contests, and only allowing ½ sack all season.
A Rimington Trophy candidate, one of four sophomores on the preseason watchlist for the nation’s best center, Richburg was selected first-team midseason all-conference by CollegeFootballNews.com on Oct. 21.
He quietly helped the Rams finish third in the league in rushing during the conference season, helping Nwoke break Steve Bartalo’s 1986 CSU record for most rushing yards over a five-game stretch, and assisting Nwoke to a pair of 200-yard efforts and one 100-yard game, and Raymond Carter to a 100-yard contest in the finale.
Against SDSU (Nov. 12), he helped CSU average 7.83 yards per carry, sixth-best in program annals, making key blocks on each of Nwoke’s big first-half runs, a 63-yard TD and a 67-yard burst, on which Richburg took out a defender at the point of attack. In the loss vs. Air Force (Nov. 26), he made a kick-out block to spring Nwoke on a 62-yard TD run in the third quarter, assisting the RB to a Hughes Stadium-record 269 rushing yards, third most in CSU history and fourth most by an individual at the FBS level in 2011.
Kontodiakos, a 6-3, 224-pound junior from Tarpon Springs, Fla., received only second-team honors despite leading the conference in gross punting at 43.6 yards per punt. CSU barely finished second in the league, behind San Diego State (38.9), with a 38.7 net punting average. His gross average ranked 19th in the nation.
A Ray Guy Award candidate, he played in 12 games, and launched 20 of his 57 punts 50 or more yards. He also pinned opponents inside their own 20 on 13 occasions, and had just four touchbacks.
He helped the Rams to a key win at Utah State (Sept. 24), placing several punts deep in Aggies territory to keep the Rams in the game and quietly help CSU to a 35-34 triumph in double OT. The punter pinned USU inside the 20 three times, including a first-quarter punt downed at the 2, and a 54-yard third-quarter punt downed at the 4, just before Barrett cut a 14-3 deficit by returning a fumble 15 yards for a TD. He also had punts of 53 and 59 yards against the Aggies.
In a 38-31 loss vs. San Jose State (Oct. 1), he pinned the Spartans inside their own 20 on three occasions, including 50- and 59-yard punts, then vs. No. 5 Boise State (Oct. 15), averaged 48.5 yards on eight punts, including four over 50, and no touchbacks.
Kontodiakos enjoyed one of the finest days of his career in the loss at UTEP (Oct. 22), averaging 51.4 yards on five punts, with two inside the 20 and two that traveled 64 yards, one of which pinned the Miners at their 3-yard line late in the first half.
He battled overwhelming winds in an 18-15 loss vs. SDSU (Nov. 12), managing a 40-yarder into the teeth of one gust in the third quarter. He still averaged an impressive 41.8 yards (37.8 net).
Finally, he averaged 47.2 yards on five punts in a loss at then-No. 19 TCU (Nov. 19), the eventual conference champion, including a 61-yarder in the second quarter and a 57-yarder, with no return, in the fourth.
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