Postseason honors continue to roll in for Rams
Dec. 15, 2011
By Danny Mattie
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The combination of newly hired Head Coach Jim McElwain and a returning crop of extremely talented young players has Colorado State football fans in a frenzy for the 2012 football season.
The Rams’ young talent continued to garner postseason awards this week, headlined by sophomore defensive end Nordly Capi’s selection as a Sports Illustrated All-America honorable mention honoree, and the naming of 10 players – including Capi and sophomore offensive lineman Jordan Gragert – to Phil Steele’s postseason all-Mountain West team.
A 6-3, 248-pound product 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 MW 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 was also the Rams’ top performer on Phil Steele’s list, garnering first-team all-MW honors from the national publication. Capi is the first CSU All-American since RB Kyle Bell and P Jimmie Kaylor, also sophomores at the time, earned SI honorable-mention recognition in 2005.
The Rams were most excited about Gragert, a second-team all-conference selection who quietly had one of the best individual seasons by a Mountain West lineman, despite operating in relative anonymity as a sophomore.
A 6-4, 291-pound guard from Libby, Mont., Gragert started every game and played every snap. A dominant run blocker, he helped pave the way for RB Chris Nwoke, CSU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Gartrell Johnson in 2008 and one of only two backs in the nation (Oregon’s LaMichael James) with multiple rushing games of 232 yards or more). The best pass protector on the team, he gave up just one sack and no other pressures, in nearly 400 passing plays. He owned 40 knock-down blocks, second on the team, graded out better than 85 percent in every game, and issued 16 “Meyer Mauls,” both No. 2 on the team, all without receiving a penalty from officials. On Oct. 15, he shut down Boise State defensive tackle Billy Winn, projected as a high selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, and did not allow a pressure against No. 19 TCU on Nov. 19, the first career start of CSU’s true freshman QB, Garrett Grayson.
Gragert joined Capi and five other CSU sophomores on Phil Steele’s postseason list. Nwoke, tight end Crockett Gillmore, offensive lineman Weston Richburg and linebacker Shaquil Barrett rounded out the Rams’ crop of second-year players to take home second-team honors. Barrett’s linebacking mate, sophomore Mike Orakpo, earned a third-team nod.
Two juniors, punter Pete Kontodiakos and James Skelton, were awarded respective second- and third-team honors by Steele, alongside offensive lineman Paul Madsen, the lone senior featured on the list for Colorado State, also a third-team selection.
The announcement of the Phil Steele all-MW team comes just more than a week after the Mountain West released its all-league selections on Dec. 6. Capi took home first-team all-MW honors, the Rams’ youngest such selection since Greg Myers in 1993.
Nwoke, Gillmore, Richburg, Madsen and Kontodiakos all garnered second-team all-MW honors, while Skelton, Barrett and junior cornerback Momo Thomas earned all-MW honorable mention nods.