“I think we got a nice solid class,” Lubick told the media as the ink was drying on 19 new National Letters of Intent – players that will be counted on to help return CSU to the top of the Mountain West Conference.
“I heard some comments the other day,” Lubick continued, “Saying, ‘well, we don’t know how good CSU is doing’ (in recruiting.) I’ll tell you what, this is a pretty good class. We really didn’t go for a receiver this year (all nine of the Rams receivers from last season are returning). We got nine in-state kids, and I really feel good about that. We got a kicker (Durrell Chamorro) that had offers four Pac-10 offers.”
The incoming freshman that seemed to have Lubick the most excited is Linebacker Jake Pottorff from Greeley West High School.
“Jake Pottorff is special,” Lubick said. Under normal circumstances, incoming freshman don’t play much at Colorado State. The 6’4” 235 pound Pottorff could be an exception. “A kid like Potorff could possibly be a guy who could play (right away).”
Last season, due largely to a rash of injuries, several freshman did play significant roles for the Rams. While he would prefer to hold them back, Lubick knows he may have to count on more than one of his new recruits early on.
“Last year we had six (freshman play), which is the most we have ever had,” Lubick recalled. “I know I’ve changed my opinion. I used to say for every freshman you’ve got playing, you can count one more loss on your schedule.
“We had six play last year, so because of that we were young. It’s going to be harder this year for a freshman to come in (and play) for the simple reason that we have, out of our top 50 players from last year, probably 44 of them coming back.”
Three other Colorado products, defensive standouts Shawn McGovern (Arvada High School), Wade Landers (Durango High School) and Brian Abata (Thomas Jefferson) also have Lubick excited.
“I think all three of those guys are going to grow into being something really fine here.”
The lone quarterback recruit is Ponderosa High School product Grant Strucker, “a tough kid,” Lubick said. “We’ve had him in camp for two years, and we had our sites set on him two years ago.”
Three transfers will be counted on right away. Linebacker Jon Radford from Tulsa signed in December (after leading Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in tackles) and will participate in spring practice with a chance at significant playing time this fall. Defensive back Joey Rucks, a late addition to the class out of West Los Angeles Junior College, will be counted on to bolster the secondary.
A third transfer is former UCLA defensive back Nnamdi Ohaeri, who played two years in the Bruins secondary before sitting out last season as he prepared to transfer. Ohaeri, after a stellar high school career as a running back, was looking to return to offense, and several schools, including Auburn, Pitt, Syracuse and Northwestern, were also offering that chance. Ohaeri chose CSU.
“He’s going to give us a shot in the arm at running back,” Lubick said, “He could be something special.”
The Rams did better on the home front, but did not sign as many Californians as they have in the past few years. One reason could be the departure of Lubick’s son Matt, the former CSU receivers coach and recruiting coordinator who left to take a similar post at Mississippi in the middle of recruiting season. The younger Lubick’s main recruiting focus was southern California.
“I don’t think so,” said Sonny Lubick when asked if his son’s departure had hampered efforts in the Golden State. “We got about three or four players out of his area, Nnamdi being one, and a kid who was an All-American wrestling and playing football in Adrian Martinez (San Clemente High School).
“I think we put a little more focus on in-state,” the coach continued. “We got eight last year, nine this year. I guess if I had my druthers, if we could have 45-50 scholarship players from in-state over a five year period, I think that would build us a great solid nucleus.
“I think we put a little more focus on recruiting in-state,” Lubick noted. “Last year we took eight out of about 18 (signees.) This year, we got nine out of (19).”
Can CSU make noise in the Mountain West Conference by focusing on in-state recruits?
“We definitely can, I know that,” Lubick stated. “Every year since I’ve been in this, there are about 30 Division I players going out of this state. You might think that there are about 10 that are supposedly (big time players), then there’s the next 10, and they’re pretty close, so if we can get in on those top 20 players and get those, if we could get every kid in the state that we wanted, we could be a great football team.”