FORT COLLINS — Lordy, you should have seen the smiles. The world sleeps on the CSU Rams, and they know it.
“I was kidding,” new football coach Jay Norvell said Friday as Day 1 of pre-season camp wrapped up just outside Canvas Stadium, “until work today.”
Crazy laugh? Norvell’s predecessor, Steve Addazio, seemed physically unable to laugh. Or smiling. Or hugs. The Daz had all the empathy of a Burmese python just before swallowing a cow whole.
Friday, however… Friday was different. CSU legend Sonny Lubick dropped by to offer advice and blessings. The “Air Raid” Rams threw rock all over the court, freely and easily. Of CSU’s 42 junior, senior and graduate students, 15 — 36 percent — weren’t on the roster this time a year ago.
“We’ve added a few new kids who are fun to work with,” Norvell said. “It’s like Christmas, you know, when you get new toys. I said to one of our quarterbacks, ‘You got some new toys here, let’s make sure you use them.’ »
One of the brightest is junior wideout Tory Horton, a 6-foot-2 speedster from Fresno who already owns Canvas Stadium before taking a regular-season snap in green and gold.
In Horton’s last regular season game, the Cat lost 113 receiving yards and two scores on the Rams as a member of Norvell’s Nevada Wolf Pack last November, tearing up a flesh injury that would end the Addazio era with a 52-10 loss.
A bit of background: Those two receiving scores at Canvas would have been the most — again, we’re talking two TDs — among the Rams’ discarded players in this building in 2021. It would have tied him the most by any CSU offensive player a year ago – tailback David Bailey also had two TD receptions, but in two different home games.
And those 113 meters in the air? That would have been more than any Rams wide receiver last year at Canvas, with a 10-yard margin on speedy Dante Wright (103 against South Dakota State).
Looking back, that says more than a little something about the Rams’ passing game in 2021, which somehow left the nation’s best tight end, Trey McBride, without a single TD catch to his name. And a little more about what Horton, who now manages routes for the home team, brings to the table.
“That just blew my mind,” Horton laughed Friday after hearing what his stat line looked like at Canvas compared to the entire CSU season. “I just know where I was last year and how I compare to some of the best that have come in and out of this building.
“When we got to (the game) I was like, ‘That’s a nice setup, you know?’ It’s a nice setup. I loved the stadium, the light show, everything was just awesome.
Horton has continued since trailing Norvell from Reno, shooting during practice for a touchdown more than three defenders on a back kick from quarterback Clay Millen. During the spring game, he took another rainbow from the young flagman to the right boundary for 55 yards.
“When I first walked into the room (here) and the (receivers) saw how the pattern was going to be, (it was) pretty exciting,” said Horton, who later helped orchestrate drills. led by players and without a coach. summer months. “And you can tell – even in training you see more smiles on their faces when (we) run down roads and do (skeleton) and stuff like that.”
“You know, offense is about playmakers and developing playmakers, and Tory is definitely one of them,” Norvell noted. “And he’s one of those quick toys that we have that we like to play with. Some (gifts) are better than the socks and underwear you got from grandma. You know, quick toys, the toy car, the Game Boy, is a little better than dress shirts and socks.
With that, the Rams coach laughed again. He knows. If Horton picks up where he left off last fall, Christmas comes early to FoCo.