QB STEVENS HAS FIRM GRIP ON START­ING JOB EN­TER­ING OPENER

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - — Kyle Fredrick­son, The Den­ver Post

COLLINS» There is FORT no de­bate: Nick Stevens will be Colorado State’s start­ing quar­ter­back when the Rams open the 2017 football sea­son Aug. 26 against Ore­gon State.

Stevens, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound red­shirt se­nior from Mur­ri­eta, Calif., is listed atop the fall camp depth chart ahead of sopho­more Collin Hill, who played in five games last fall with three starts.

“Nick Stevens earned (the right to start) with his play at the end of last year,” CSU coach Mike Bobo said Tues­day at the Rams’ football me­dia day in­side the on-cam­pus sta­dium. “I’ve said it many times: He was play­ing as well as any­body in this con­fer­ence and this coun­try. The pro­duc­tion that we had of­fen­sively was a lot due to Nick and his abil­ity to run our of­fense and be ef­fi­cient.”

Stevens passed for 1,936 yards and 19 touch­downs with just five in­ter­cep­tions in 2016, but as Bobo ref­er­ences, Stevens’ best work ar­rived in Novem­ber.

Over the last four games of the regular sea­son, Stevens threw in­com­plete just 18 times on 78 at­tempts, in ad­di­tion to 998 yards pass­ing, 10 touch­downs and only one pick. Against Idaho in the Fa­mous Idaho Potato Bowl, Stevens set a ca­reer high for pass­ing yards (445) and tied his ca­reer TD mark (five).

The pre­sea­son an­nounce­ment that Stevens will be the starter has only in­creased his con­fi­dence.

“We talk about it all the time. I do think that does give you some com­fort,” Stevens said. “You play bet­ter and ex­cel when you don’t have to be wor­ry­ing about, ‘If I make a bad play, am I go­ing to get benched?’ Any­thing could hap­pen, and I still have to play to the best of my abil­ity, but I def­i­nitely feel com­fort in that.” Fo­gal’s bid. Among those new­com­ers in con­tention for prom­i­nent roles in 2017 is grad­u­ate trans­fer Jordal Fo­gal. The for­mer Univer­sity of Utah safety is im­me­di­ately el­i­gi­ble this fall and, pend­ing an NCAA waiver, might gain a sixth year of el­i­gi­bil­ity in 2018 af­ter miss­ing nearly two com­bined sea­sons with ACL tears be­fore ar­riv­ing in Fort Collins.

Fo­gal, at 5-10 and 185 pounds, to­taled 20 tack­les in eight games a sea­son ago and is ex­pected to im­me­di­ately com­pete for a start­ing role in the CSU de­fen­sive back­field.

“You look at a guy like him and he’s been in a Power 5 pro­gram,” CSU safeties coach Jamie Bryant said. “He’s got tremen­dous work ethic, and he’s brought that work ethic and that men­tal tough­ness to fight through things in prac­tice. That’s made the room bet­ter. It’s mak­ing our de­fense bet­ter. It’s mak­ing our football team bet­ter.”

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