Todd Centeio is Colorado State’s starting quarterback as spring practice begins

Colorado State football coach Steve Addazio made one thing clear as the Rams start spring practice this week: Todd Centeio is CSU’s starting quarterback.

“We have a definitive starter going into spring and that’s Toddy,” Addazio said Thursday during a virtual news conference. “We’ve got a group of young guys and a couple of guys who have been around. We want to really have a great spring to evaluate where they’re at and then also elevate Toddy’s game.”

Centeio is a Temple graduate transfer who arrived in Fort Collins last year with two seasons of eligibility left. He started in CSU’s opener at Fresno State with mixed results — 10-of-23 passing for 141 yards, plus 80 yards rushing on 13 carries — in a 38-17 loss.

Centeio was then supplanted as starter by Patrick O’Brien, since transferred to Washington, with Centeio entering CSU games twice in relief. He threw one touchdown at Boise State and one interception at San Diego State. But Addazio’s glowing evaluation of Centeio is based less on raw statistics (like a subpar 38% completion rate in 2020) and is more focused on the intangibles.

Addazio also revealed for the first time Thursday that Centeio suffered an injury in the opener that hampered him all of last season.

“Toddy is a great leader,” Addazio said. “He’s starting to make really great strides on the mental piece of this game. I’m really, really excited about watching his development and watching these other guys right now compete. We’ve got to find out who our number two (quarterback) is and that’s really where we’re at right now.

“That’s not to say that everyone is not competing to be number one. I never say that. But we have a No. 1 going into spring.”

CSU tight end Trey McBride told reporters he has thrown with Centeio three to four times a week during recent voluntary workouts. It has grown confidence and chemistry.

“(Centeio) runs the show,” McBride said. “He’s really confident when he’s out there. He’s a guy that stays after and does extra. He’s always wanting to do more. He’s one of those guys that you want leading the quarterback. … He’s a winner.”

Added CSU linebacker Dequan Jackson: “Toddy can throw the ball and he can run, and any time you’re dealing with a dual-threat, it’s a strain on the defense. … He has speed, and then even if you catch up to him, you’ve got to tackle him in open space a lot of times.”

Perhaps Centeio’s greatest strength is experience with 26 career college games under his belt. That’s far more comfort than returning senior Justice McCoy, appearing in three career CSU games, or incoming freshmen Luke McCallister (Palmer Ridge) and Chance Harris (Clovis, N.M.).

The Rams went 1-3 a year ago with four canceled games and are in desperate need of strong leadership at their most important position. For now, Centeio is the choice.

“He has all the physical and mental characteristics to be an outstanding quarterback in this league,” Addazio said.

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