On Tuesday, Colorado State University head coach Steve Fairchild ended a month’s long battle at the quarterback position when he named true freshman QB Pete Thomas the Rams’ starter for the September 4 season opener in the Rocky Mountain Showdown versus in-state rival CU.
“He (Thomas) was the most consistent,” explained Fairchild. “He just put together enough practices in a row to where I felt comfortable.”
In his first two years as the Rams’ head man, Fairchild was forced to play senior quarterbacks that he was left by predecessor Sonny Lubick. And while Caleb Hanie and Grant Stucker were both decent quarterbacks, they weren’t Fairchild guys.
Thomas is a physical freak on the football field, at 6’5” 220 pounds, he has the size and arm strength that are usually reserved for the most massive college football programs in the country. He was rated the No. 6 pro-style quarterback by the USA Today and Rivals.com rated him the No. 16 overall quarterback prospect in the nation. But alas, Thomas has found his way to our small northern Colorado town and our small school.
Thomas, who had been in close competition with redshirt freshman Nico Ranieri for weeks, was clearly the best quarterback during CSU’s two-hour long practice Saturday.
Thomas showed poise in the pocket, solid accuracy and the biggest arm Fort Collins has seen in a decade. His 50+ yard touchdown pass to T.J. Borcky on Saturday went 40 yards in the air, with nearly perfect accuracy. But he also showed growing pains, throwing for three interceptions (although two were incredibly athletic plays made by defensive linemen) and he overthrew running backs in the flat multiple times.
Fairchild understands that Thomas still has much to learn and he will go through some growing pains as the Rams QB. “He’s done a nice job, but he’s still a freshman. He still hasn’t played a down of college football, so I’m sure there’s going to be some ups and downs here.”
Fairchild also enlightened the media on how he knew that Thomas was the quarterback he wanted from the first time he met him. “Yeah. Anybody that’s going to give up their last semester of high school is pretty darn serious about college football.”
Thomas is a uniquely gifted QB not only physically, but mentally too—he’s already the starter but he’s still humble and understands he has much to learn.
“I was obviously really excited. I just called my mom and dad and told them and they were pretty excited. I told my brother and he was really excited for me. Then, I just let it go. I’ve got to start working even harder now,” said Thomas.
He continued, “I have so much more to learn. I’m confident that I can learn a lot from Coach Fairchild and Coach Wilk (Daren Wilkinson), and even the other quarterbacks. It was a great competition. All the quarterbacks are really good friends and we’re going to remain that way and help each other out in any way we can.”
Thomas is already a leader, showing how dedicated he is to the CSU Rams by missing his high school graduation ceremony to move to Fort Collins early because, “I didn’t want to miss conditioning or throwing with the receivers,” he said.
How can a teammate question his dedication, work ethic or leadership abilities when Thomas is certainly leading by example?
They can’t. Thomas is good for the team, and the team will be better because of him.
Rich Kurtzman is a Colorado State University Alumnus and a freelance journalist. Along with being the CSU Rams Examiner, Kurtzman is the Fort Collins Beer Bars Examiner, the Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist for bleacherreport.com and the Colorado/Utah Regional Correspondent for stadiumjourney.com.
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