Colorado State redshirt junior linebacker Chase Wilson and junior defensive back Jack Howell reached milestones Saturday night against Nevada, but the two are more importantly leading a CSU defense that has played a big role in the team’s last two victories.
In the Rams’ 30-20 victory against the Wolf Pack at Canvas Stadium, both Wilson and Howell topped 100 tackles for the season. It was Wilson’s first time reaching the century mark and Howell’s second.
“Really, really proud of Chase going over 100 tackles in his first year starting at linebacker,” CSU head coach Jay Norvell said. “Jack has had a tremendous career here. We’re so proud of those guys.”
Both players needed big games against Nevada to reach those milestones and both of them delivered. Howell had 12 tackles to push his season total to 106 while Wilson had 11 to give him 102. Wilson also had a pair of tackles for loss and a sack in the game.
Not only did Howell top 100 for the second year in a row, but he is the first CSU defensive back to have consecutive 100-tackle seasons since it became an official stat in 2000.
First and foremost, the two credited their faith for what they have been able to do this season for the Rams. Then they made sure to credit their teammates.
“Really, all the glory to God,” Wilson said. “I’m a God-fearing man. I would be nothing without him, really. All glory to him. None of this would have been possible without him.”
“We’ve got a strong connection,” Howell added. “We go to Bible studies together. I think that really drives us and like Chase said, any opportunity I get, I want to thank my lord and savior because I really do think that he’s the reason I can do these things, but it’s also a team effort. I owe this to my teammates just as much as credit to me.”
Wilson played in two games as a freshman in 2020 and then two in 2021 as a sophomore before being injured and taking a redshirt season. In 2022, he appeared in every game as a backup linebacker and finished with 29 tackles. He had seven of them and 2.5 sacks in the Rams’ season-ending victory against New Mexico.
That performance set the stage for his redshirt junior year in which he has 3.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss to go along with his 102 total tackles. He also has a fumble recovery this season.
As a freshman in 2021, Howell played in CSU’s final 11 games, with six starts. He finished the season with 64 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and his first career interception.
Howell led the Rams and all defensive backs in the country with 108 tackles last season. He played in 11 of CSU’s 12 games, starting 10 of them. He had three interceptions, all in consecutive weeks, and had three tackles for loss.
While leading the team in tackles, the two have helped the Rams tremendously in their final push to get to a bowl game. After losing to Wyoming on Nov. 3, CSU needed three wins in its final three games to become bowl eligible. They’ve gotten two, both by holding their opponents to 20 points or fewer, with one to go.
“It’s just critical examples and opportunities of their competitive nature,” Norvell said. “We’ve tried to simplify everything we do here into that. What kind of competitor are you? How do you prepare yourself for these moments? Saturday night was a great example of that. That shows their competitive stamina, that they’re able to withstand that adversity and fight through it. And we need to do it again this week.”
A win Saturday at Hawaii could send the team to a bowl game for the first time since 2017. It would also give the Rams their first six-win season since they won seven that same year.
For Wilson and Howell, being from Colorado and a part of a team that has the chance to finish the regular season with a .500 record after five losing seasons means a lot to both of them.
“It’s everything,” Howell said. “Last year, it was frustrating. Me and Chase had two three-win seasons, so coming into this season with six total wins at CSU, that’s frustrating. Coming from a family that likes to win, I’m really competitive so that hurts. So this year, to have five wins and to be going for six and our bowl game, that’s huge and being able to do it with this group of guys is really special to me.”
Noyes earns weekly honor
CSU kicker Jordan Noyes was honored Monday as the Mountain West Conference special teams player of the week.
Saturday against Nevada, Noyes was 3-for-3 on field goals of 30, 42 and 31 yards and was 3-for-3 on extra points to account for 12 of CSU’s 30 points in the game.
The graduate student from England is now 14-of-17 on field goals and 28-for-28 on extra points this season.