Colorado State's head football coach Jim McElwain loves his job.
When you hear the man talk about the long and arduous process surrounding the annual signing day – today, when colleges can officially sign high school players for the next season – he was his usual excited and effervescent self.
“I can't tell you how exciting a day it is, and what a great day it is to be a Ram,” he started the half an hour presser Wednesday afternoon in Fort Collins. “This is a culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people. When I say that, [I mean] the entire Ram family. It starts obviously with our coaching staff, who did an outstanding job. It's a year and a half long process and with that process comes a lot of different things and a lot of people involved.
“And one of the things I'm really appreciative of is this family, this Colorado State University family. And what I mean by that is when these young men come on campus, with their families, just the amount of warmth and energy that is generated throughout our campus and our community – that stretches from the President's office, the involvement that a lot of our vice presidents had in our recruiting along with the Deans and faculty members. I can't tell you the amount of help, and it really goes to show you the amount of pride this university has in what we have to offer.”
Coach Mac is quick to call Colorado State his family; it's a word and feeling that's taken over the program the same time he did, just over 14 months ago. Throughout last season, he won over a group of individuals and by the end of the season, had them playing like a team.
He's an intelligent football coach – undoubtedly his remarkable resume helped land some recruits – but he may be an even better wordsmith, convincing some athletes to come to CSU with his high-energy style of speak.
McElwain was not only happy with this year's recruiting class, but the pride of landing some big-time players that more prestigious programs also wanted shone through.
“We're really excited about the quality of individuals we brought in,” he continued. “We've answered some needs. Every single one of them we expect to be impact players at some point in their careers.
“A lot of these guys had opportunities at different universities and chose to join our family. And that speaks volumes to who we are and to who Colorado State is and really, that's what's really exciting about it.”
The needs McElwain and the team addressed were at wide receiver and defensive line – 10 of their 24 players were at one of those two positions – and many will likely play next season.
At wide receiver, there's a foursome of big and athletic pass-catchers, each of which stand at 6'2” or taller. One of which is Elroy Masters, a speedster that ran track in high school and was also a 4.0 student-athlete.
“I think you can also see from a size standpoint what we were trying to accomplish at those spots,” Coach Mac said about the wideouts. “These are some dynamic playmakers that have proven it in high school, now we'll see how it translates when they get to the college level.”
On the defensive line, the Rams brought in six recruits; half from high school and half junior college transfers. Sophomore transfer LaRyan King is the biggest (6'1” 280 pounds), while the six of them average 260 pounds. CSU wasn't very stout against the run last year, and they lost seniors Lanston Tanyi and Broderick Sargent, meaning many big bodies were a necessity.
But the guy McElwain was biggest on was incoming quarterback Nick Stevens. Stevens is a 6'3” 190-pounder that hails from Murreita, California that picked CSU over bigger schools like Boise State.
“I'm really excited from a skill standpoint on our quarterback,” explained McElwain. “I just can't say enough about a guy who's about 27-1 as a starter at a high level of football in California. He's a guy that brings in over a four-point GPA – I don't know how that's possible, because the last time I checked it was on a four-point scale, so I thought he was foraging it. Here's a guy that comes in and really, is a true leader. Fended off multiple, multiple offers after he committed to us, and that just tells you the type of character that this young man has. I'm really excited to get him into our program.”
And while Stevens won't get to campus until the summer because he wants to finish the basketball season, there are five of the 24 players already at the university. They're working out with teammates, bonding and getting ready for the coming Ram U program Coach Mac said.
Yes, it's been long 14 months for McElwain – leading a team for the first time in his life – today marks the end of on exhausting recruiting process, and the beginning of a new one.
Because, as he said, recruiting is something never ends.