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'Grind time' defines no-drama approach to winning at CSU

Jay Norvell CSU Rams.jpg
Jay Norvell CSU Rams.jpg
Posted at 8:42 AM, Aug 14, 2023

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — “They just work,” CSU Rams head football coach Jay Norvell said, notably wearing a suit instead of his signature blue-collar work shirt.

“There’s no drama.”

No drama? In college football? Really??

A sport that has become a bastion for unbridled greed, where tradition and fake amateurism is being traded for TV dollars and N.I.L deals, Norvell bucks the notion that winning football must be dramatic.

Quite the departure from their Rocky Mountain Showdown opponent, wouldn’t you say?

There’s no 'Prime Time' in Fort Collins.

Instead, it’s ‘9-to-5’ time or ‘bring a lunch pail and hard hat’ time.

“We want to build a football program where everybody at CSU is proud,” Norvell said. “A hard-nosed team that’s blue collar and goes out and fights every week to win.”

To get to that level, Norvell had to figure out what was wrong with this jalopy of a program that has won just 13 games since 2018 (not counting the COVID year).

“It’s kind of like fixing a car,” Norvell remarked. “You never know what the issues are until you open the hood.”

The solution was a roster overhaul. 49 new rams enter CSU as the biggest recruiting class in school history and the top ranked class in the Mountain West Conference.

“We really feel like we’ve added to this team, and we’ve brought a bunch of kids in that want to [win],” Norvell told Denver7.

What’s the main difference in year two under Norvell?

Junior defensive back Jack Howell said the answer is team camaraderie.

“Obviously last year we thought we felt it and then we had half the team leave mid-way through the season,” Howell, a Fort Collins native, said. “Just being able to, offense and defense, know we have each other’s back. Last year, it kind of felt like two different teams. Now Clay [Millen] throws a good ball. Tory [Horton] has a good catch we’re all cheering for them.”

While the head coach likes the fact that his team gets along, he prefers big players to big personalities.

“We’re a full inch taller at every position,” Norvell said. “We play a sport where big people beat up on little people. We like to have size, and length is very important especially on the offensive line when trying to pass protect. We’re a much different looking team, I think we’re better at every position.”

Norvell is no dictator, and he’s not a tough-guy-know-it-all like we’ve seen with previous regimes. His coaching style begins with a commitment to the man putting on that green and gold uniform.

“He’s more than just a football coach,” senior wide receiver Tory Horton said. “He checks up on us outside of football, asks how we’re doing with our life and our family. That’s something you need from a head coach. His quote always stuck with me when he said he wants us to leave better men than football players.”

There is precedent for ‘The Norvell Way’ working.

“My first year at Nevada we won three games,” Norvell said. “Then we came back the next year and won eight [games] and our bowl game. So, we expect improvement this year.”

That type of turnaround seems optimistic to the general college football observing public – but to borrow a cliché, “where there’s a will, there’s a Jay.”

And these rams have plenty of will.

“I think we know what this team can do,” Howell said. “We want to show everyone what we can do."

'Grind time' defines no-drama approach to winning at CSU

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