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Rams' recruiting changes leave local players without scholarships

Jay Norvell brings a new style of play to Colorado State and consequently needs a new style of player. Some of Addazio's recruits didn't fit the mold.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — With a new coach, comes a new recruiting style. When Jay Norvell took over the CSU program in early December 2021, it was clear that his signature air raid style was very different from Steve Addazio's -- and some players wouldn't make the cut.

While some talent transcends fit, like Cherry Creek speedy wide receiver Ky Oday, who is still repping the Rams, others were left searching for a new home last month.

"With the new coaching staff, they told me they were heading in a different direction and told me they didn't have a scholarship for me anymore," Lutheran senior safety and wide receiver Bryce Johnson said. "Right when they told me, I was overwhelmed. I didn't necessarily see it coming."

Johnson was offered a preferred walk-on role with the Rams, but that wasn't enough, nor was he alone. Norvell's staff informed a handful of front range recruits that their scholarships would not be honored upon his arrival, putting the players in a bind.

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"From the time it was pulled until signing day, I had three and a half weeks and it was just really quick turnover from having no communication with any coaches since June to having to find a new home in three weeks," he said.

The former Lutheran Lion will now be a Jackrabbit, after finding a home with South Dakota State, and changed his positional listing to linebacker.

Arapahoe senior defensive end Jareb Ramos was also offered a scholarship with the Rams, but understood the ramifications of a new coaching personnel overhauling recruiting. He was thankful to reunite with the Montana staff who recruited him and commit to the Griz.

"I just got back into the recruiting process and it all worked out," he said. "I got the official visit and it was all last minute. It's a blessing."

As swift as their recruiting changes happened, the same thing was happening to Norvell. After spending two years recruiting specific players as the head coach of Nevada, all of his work would have been for nothing, he said, if he lost those key guys.

"It's just the nature of coaching changes in college football. We shifted gears and evaluated what we needed here at Colorado State and really tried to implement the recruiting plan the best we could in the time we had," he said.

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He didn't feel like it was their specific duty to honor the scholarships that were offered to players by Addazio's staff, however, he said they evaluated each one and decided if the players could benefit the class they already recruited.

"The roster is our responsibility," he said. "We have a style of play that we were hired to implement. Many of the recruits, we had already evaluated when we were at Nevada, so we already had a good idea of who fit and who didn't."

Eleven players transferred over from his 2021 Nevada team. Separately, one of the players he had recruited for his 2022 Wolf Pack incoming class was three-star offensive tackle Aaron Karas from Pomona. He convinced Karas to flip his commitment to Colorado State.

"It was mainly the coaching staff of why I made those decisions, just following my gut basically," Karas said.

The recruiting power dynamics balanced out last year with the option for athletes to transfer one time without penalty, which 21 Rams already chose to do.

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