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Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Nwoke emerging as one of CSU's top backs

By Graham Watson

At the beginning of spring football, Colorado State seemed like its running back rotation was firmly entrenched.

The Rams returned 92 percent of its rushing yards from last season and its top three running backs in seniors Leonard Mason (766) and John Mosure (650), and sophomore Lou Greenwood (147).

But with the addition of Raymond Carter, who missed the 2009 season after transferring from UCLA, Chris Nwoke, a redshirt freshman in 2010, and true freshman Tony Drake, who will be on campus for fall camp, the running back competition became one of the most interesting storylines of spring camp.

And the three players who had carried the load in 2009 found themselves part of a rotation that featured Nwoke and Carter as the two premier backs.

“I knew I would be a big part of this offense,” Nwoke said. “I’m a competitor and with all the backs we have we can do a lot of things, make a lot of things happen and be the best position on the field. We have a good rotation.”

Nwoke is a power back cut from the same cloth as former CSU star Gartrell Johnson, who currently plays with the New York Giants. Johnson rushed for 1,476 yards and 12 touchdowns during his senior season in 2008 and became the Mountain West’s most dominant back and one of the top running backs in the country. His 285 rushing yards against Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl was the reason the Rams finished 7-6 in coach Steve Fairchild’s first season as head coach. The Rams didn’t have nearly the same rushing threat last year and Nwoke wants to bring that power game back to the Rams this season.

“I thought I could be more physical, be a Gartrell-like player for them,” Nwoke said. “I just want to run and do what I can to help the team. Gartrell ran real hard, knocked a lot of people down and that’s what I’d like to be. I can be a speed back. I can run guys over. So, hopefully I can up my game over the summer.”

Nwoke led all rushers in the Rams' shortened spring game with five carries for 25 yards. Mosure had 12 yards and Mason had 11. Carter was held out of the game because of injury.

While the Rams have not decided on a starting running back, Nwoke said each back brings something different to the field. Carter is a speedier back while Mosure brings knowledge of the game and mentoring to the younger backs. Mason and Nwoke are both speedy power backs.

“I think if they see a guy that can carry the rock for them legitly, they’ll probably give it to him,” Nwoke said. “But right now, I think we’re rotating; find that back and seeing what we all can do."