Colorado State Rams’ Top 10 Returning Players in 2024 Include Tory Horton, Jack Howell

    Jay Norvell and the Colorado State Rams are ready to break out in 2024, and that should happen with their top 10 returning players this year.

    When Jay Norvell took over the Colorado State Rams program, the fanbase knew it might take some time to see results. After improving from 3-9 in 2022 to 5-7 in 2023, this team expects to make a bowl game this year, and the top 10 returning players for Colorado State give them a great chance to make that happen.

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    Colorado State Rams’ Top 10 Returners in 2024

    Analyzing the returning players at every school is a difficult task in the transfer portal area. As such, we’ve included transfer-portal athletes on each team’s roster page to open spring camp in addition to the rostered players from last year.

    10) Isaiah Essissima, CB

    It’s been a long, winding road for Isaiah Essissima. He started with Wake Forest in 2019 before transferring to Norvell’s Nevada Wolf Pack in 2021. He stayed when Norvell left but decided to transfer after only playing in four games last year.

    The senior comes to the Rams secondary with three career interceptions and hopes to return to his 2022 form, where he was a College Football Network All-Mountain West honorable mention selection.

    9) Dom Jones, CB

    Despite departures on the back end of the defense, the Rams return a ton of experience. That’s huge for a group that finished 108th against the pass last year, and it could be the difference between making a bowl game or missing one.

    Dom Jones emerged as a reliable corner for the Rams secondary, and his first season in the lineup resulted in 32 tackles, three passes defended, and two interceptions. The senior from Duluth, Georgia, stands 6’2″ and 195 pounds, giving him the size and length needed to compete with the talented receivers in the conference (and on his own team, too).

    8) Dylan Goffney, WR

    Norvell’s system attracts wide receiver talent, allowing them to bring in playmakers from the transfer portal to add depth. Former SMU transfer Dylan Goffney came to the Rams as a rotational piece, but he’s looking to take on a new role this year.

    With teams focusing their attention on other weapons, it’s Goffney who stands to gain the most this year. He should see better matchups, and that could lead to explosive plays. If he can rediscover his 2022 self, where he averaged 20.5 yards per catch with the Mustangs, the Rams offense will be a nightmare to stop through the air.

    7) Chase Wilson, LB

    Norvell and defensive coordinator Freddie Banks have work to do on this side of the ball, but their core of returning talent should make that easier. This group finished 107th in total defense last year, and that must change if they want more success.

    Chase Wilson was one of two players to record 100 or more tackles last year, and he also added 8.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. The Rams don’t lose a ton up front, so Wilson shouldn’t have to usher in new talent into the rotation. That continuity should make the defense an improved group in 2024.

    6) Henry Blackburn, S

    Henry Blackburn went from unknown player to evil villain quickly last year, but thankfully, that didn’t last long. Once the dust settled from the outrage, he compiled an impressive season for the Rams.

    MORE: 2024 Colorado State Rams Football Roster

    Blackburn is a physical player near the line of scrimmage and deep downfield, so pass catchers and ball carriers know they must be aware of his presence. He finished fourth on the team with 75 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and a team-high three interceptions.

    5) Drew Moss, OT

    Even though it’s not the nature of the offense, it’d be nice to see the Rams attack defenses on the ground more. If not, that’s fine because they have a passing attack that can move the ball without a complementary rushing attack. They also have the line to keep their quarterbacks upright.

    Drew Moss returns after a solid season in 2023. The senior from Richardson, Texas, transferred in from Lamar after two seasons there and quickly became the starter at tackle for his new team. After a College Football Network All-Mountain West honorable mention campaign last fall, he’s ready to challenge for elevated honors in the coming season.

    4) Justus Ross-Simmons, WR

    Update: Ross-Simmons entered the college football transfer portal on April 16.

    It was never a secret that this team wanted to throw the ball, but Norvell is such a great offensive mind that they don’t need to disguise their intentions. Teams couldn’t stop this group at times, and Colorado State’s top 10 returning players include two receivers that will make life miserable for opposing defenses.

    We start with Justus Ross-Simmons, the underrated player in this group. He caught 45 passes last year for 724 yards and three touchdowns, but the staff expects bigger things from him this year.

    3) Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi, QB

    Clay Millen was the center of attention heading into last year. He followed Norvell from Nevada and had the tools to be the next great starter for his coach. It ultimately didn’t work out, and Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi took over the starting job after just one game.

    With Millen transferring to Florida, it’s officially Fowler-Nicolosi’s show to run.

    While he must reduce the 16 interceptions he threw last year, he has the arm talent to do severe damage in the Mountain West this year. He threw for 3,460 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2023, but that’s just the beginning for him.

    2) Jack Howell, S

    One of the biggest wins for the Rams this offseason was the return of Jack Howell to campus. The multiyear starter at safety gives the Rams secondary a veteran who can get the fresher faces on the same page, and that’s huge for a group that must take a step forward.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Mountain West SAF Rankings

    He’s coming off his second consecutive 100-tackle season and already has 286 during his three-year career. He also has five career interceptions, and the staff would like to see him add to the latter more than the former.

    1) Tory Horton, WR

    The only more significant win than Jack Howell’s return was Tory Horton deciding to return as well. A future NFL receiver, Horton felt he had unfinished business with the Rams, and his presence alone will change game plans. Teams know that the former Nevada transfer can do damage, so they’ll try to take him away.

    Horton returns 239 receptions, 3,262 yards, and 26 touchdowns in his career, and he’ll hope that the team’s success will follow even if he can’t replicate his production. The Rams’ depth at wide receiver will keep teams from sending too much help his way, though he can cook no matter how many defenders are near him. Oh, and he throws dimes too.

    College Football Network has you covered with the latest news and analysis, rankings, transfer portal information, top 10 returning players, the 2024 college football season schedule, and much more!

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