Offensive Coaching Staff
RONNIE LETSON | ASSISTANT HEAD COACH/QUARTERBACKS
Ronnie Letson is in his fifth season at Colorado State in 2019, having joined Mike Bobo's initial staff as quarterbacks coach Jan. 2, 2015. In February 2018 he was promoted to add the title of assistant head coach. Letson accompanied Bobo from the University of Georgia, where he had served one season as director of player personnel for the Bulldogs.
In each of Letson's four seasons coaching CSU's quarterbacks the team has registered a top-10 mark in school history for touchdown passes, including the second all-time mark of 29 in both 2016 and '17, the fourth-best figure of 26 in 2018 and the sixth-most, 24, in 2015.
In 2018 Letson managed two different starting quarterbacks and served as the play-caller for the first five games of the season while Coach Bobo recovered from an illness, as the Rams set school records for pass completions (303) and pass attempts (502). Graduate transfer K.J. Carta-Samuels broke Colorado State's all-time single-game passing mark with 537 yards in his first game as a Ram, on Aug. 25 vs. Hawai'i, and was ranked in the top 15 in the nation in most statistical categories for much of his eight-game run as the starter. Sophomore Collin Hill started the Rams' last four games of the season and averaged 275 passing yards per game in that span, helping the Rams to rank 13th in FBS in passing offense (304.9) under Letson's guidance.
In Letson's first three seasons at CSU, Nick Stevens earned All-Mountain West recognition each year, including first-team honors as a senior in 2017. Stevens—the Rams' all-time leader in touchdown passes—ranked 13th in the FBS in passing yards (3,799) and passing touchdowns (29) in 2017, and 14th in passing yards per game (292.2). Between 2015-17 the Rams posted two of the top five scoring marks in school history (3rd—35.3 in 2016 and 5th—33.4 in 2017) and two of the top four marks for total offense, including a school-record 492.5 yards per game in 2017 (also 4th, 462.5 in 2016). The 2017 Rams also set school records for first downs per game (25.5) and third-down conversions (50.3%).
Letson guided three different quarterbacks to start at least one game for the Rams in 2016, including Hill as a true freshman, who started four games before his season ended because of a knee injury. Stevens (honorable mention All-MW) started the season opener and the final seven games and ranked fifth in FBS (first in MW) with a 171.3 passer efficiency rating. The Rams ranked 12th in FBS with just seven interceptions thrown. Under Letson’s guidance, the passing game ranked 12th in the nation in passing efficiency (157.04) and took an average of just 1.0 sack per game (8th FBS), including just one total over the season’s final six games.
In his final seven starts to close the 2016 season, Stevens ranked among the hottest quarterbacks in the nation, completing better than 70 percent of his passes for 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His season completion percentage of 64.2 ranked third on CSU’s single-season list.
In his first season with the Rams in 2015, Letson helped Stevens earn second-team All-Mountain West honors as a first-year starting quarterback. He led the conference in touchdown passes (21) and ranked second in passing yards (2,679). Both figures broke CSU’s all-time records for a sophomore, topping the previous marks held by former first-round NFL draft choice Kelly Stouffer.
Prior to Letson’s one season at Georgia he had a brief stint as the wide receivers coach at Samford University in early 2014. He spent the 2013 season as an offensive analyst at Alabama and nine seasons at Jacksonville State (2004-12) as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. At Jacksonville State, Letson was in charge of play-calling and developing the Gamecocks’ offensive game plan. In his nine-year stint Letson groomed 31 all-conference players and six All-Americans. Letson helped guide the Gamecocks to an Ohio Valley Conference championship in 2004 and an OVC co-championship in 2011.
Jacksonville State’s 2011 conference championship team was fueled by Letson’s powerful offense, which averaged 414.9 yards per game against conference opponents, including 245.0 yards on the ground and an OVC-best 148.8 pass efficiency rating. In 2010 Letson helped lead JSU to a 9-3 record and a No. 2 ranking in FCS. His offenses in 2004, ‘08 and ‘09 led the OVC, and the Gamecocks led the OVC in scoring offense in ‘04, ‘07, ‘09 and ‘10. Letson helped produce 2009 OVC Offensive Player of the Year Ryan Perrilloux and 2010 OVC Freshman of the Year Coty Blanchard.
Letson originally began his coaching career at Jacksonville State in 2000 as the wide receivers coach before taking the same position at Presbyterian College in 2002 where he assisted with the development of the offensive game plan. He got his first taste of coaching in the Southeastern Conference as an offensive administrative graduate assistant at his alma mater, Ole Miss, in 2003, when the Rebels finished with a 10-3 record, a share of the SEC West Division title and a Cotton Bowl Championship. In the spring of 2004 he moved to the defensive side of the ball as a graduate assistant before returning to Jacksonville State in May 2004.
Letson is a 1999 graduate of the University of Mississippi, from which he holds a bachelor of business administration degree. He was a three-year letterman for the Rebels, earning All-SEC academic honors in 1999, and helped lead Ole Miss to three consecutive bowl victories. The Rebels claimed the Ford Motor City Bowl against Marshall and two wins in the Independence Bowl, including a last-second win over Oklahoma.
A 1995 graduate of Norcross (Ga.) High School, Ronnie and his wife, Vanessa, have two sons, Tripp and Eli.
DAVE JOHNSON | OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR/OFFENSIVE LINE
Dave Johnson enters his second season as Colorado State's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in 2019. Johnson, a veteran of 35 seasons coaching in college football, joined the Rams in 2018 from Ohio where he coached the offensive line and served as run-game coordinator. Johnson and Bobo coached together at Georgia from 2001-07, when Bobo was quarterbacks coach and Johnson was tight ends coach.
In his career Johnson has coached in 17 bowl games, won nine DI conference championship titles (Big East, SEC, MAC) and mentored 12 NFL players, five All-Americans and 32 all-conference selections.
With Johnson serving as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in 2018 the Rams ranked 13th in FBS in passing offense at 304.9 yards per game, and recorded the fourth-most touchdown passes in school history, with 26.
Johnson spent the previous four seasons as Ohio's offensive line coach, and before the 2017 season added co-offensive coordinator duties to direct the run game. The Bobcats finished 9-4 with a bowl victory in 2017 and ranked 16th in FBS in rushing (244.5 yards per game) and set school records for scoring (39.1), yards-per-carry (5.7) and rushing touchdowns (44). Ohio also ranked ninth in FBS in scoring and ranked 12th in red-zone offense (91.9%) and 16th in sacks allowed (1.23).
Prior to his four years at Ohio, Johnson was run-game coordinator and offensive line coach at UMass for one season (2013). He served as tight ends coach at Cincinnati from 2011-12 and offensive line coach at West Virginia from 2008-10, following his eight-year stint as Georgia's tight ends coach (2001-07). With Bobo and Johnson on the offensive staff the Bulldogs won 72 games and claimed three SEC East Division Championships, two SEC Championships, five bowl wins and five Top-10 national finishes. Four of his Georgia tight ends—Randy McMichael, Ben Watson, Martez Milner and Leonard Pope—went on to careers in the NFL, as did his Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce, drafted in the third round by the Kansas City Chiefs.
A graduate of West Virginia and four-year letterwinner at center for the Mountaineers, Johnson began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater from 1984-85. He then coached offensive line and tight ends, and directed strength and conditioning, at Shippensburg in 1986 before a nine-year stint in the same capacities at Indiana (Pa.) University (1987-1996) and a four-year stint at tight ends coach at Marshall (1997-2000).
Johnson started at center for the Mountaineers on their 1981 Peach Bowl and 1982 Gator Bowl teams. He earned his bachelor's degree from WVU in 1985 and his master's degree in 1986. Dave and his wife Lynn have four children, Andrew, Lauren, Zachary and Mark.
NICK JONES | CO-SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR/TIGHT ENDS
Nick Jones joined the Rams' coaching staff in February 2019 as co-special teams coordinator and tight ends coach.
Jones, who spent the 2018 season as tight ends coach at Air Force, brought nine years of collegiate coaching experience to his new position at CSU, including a significant portion of his career leading special teams units that ranked among the best in the country. During his six-year stint at Coastal Carolina, he directed the Chanticleers' significant success on special teams, including a No. 1 FCS ranking in punt coverage in 2015, with just one punt returned for no gain.
A four-year letterman at Georgia (2003-06), Jones, began his coaching career in 2010 at his alma mater, serving two years as an offensive graduate assistant while Mike Bobo was the Bulldogs' offensive coordinator. Jones will oversee the Rams' punt and kickoff units.
Jones was hired at Coastal Carolina in 2012 to coach tight ends and tackles, and oversee the PAT/FG units as well as the punt coverage unit. In 2012, he helped left tackle Chad Hamilton earn second-team all-conference honors while bookend Drew Herring had a breakout season holding down the right tackle spot. In addition, despite limited playing time due to multiple injuries, tight end David Duran was tabbed second-team All-Big South. In 2013 both Hamilton and Herring were named first-team All-Big South while tight end Thomas Pauciello hauled in three touchdown receptions. Hamilton capped his career at Coastal by earning first-team All-America honors and signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bears.
Also in 2014, Coastal Carolina tight ends Pauciello and Craig Weick combined to haul in 22 passes for 288 yards and three scores despite missing considerable playing time because of injury, and senior Cody Craig was voted Academic All-Big South. In 2015, Jones oversaw the most successful special team unit in the nation, with the punt coverage unit ranked No. 1 in the NCAA FCS as opponents only attempted to return one punt for zero yards.
Jones helped Coastal have one of its best seasons rushing the ball in school history during the 2016 campaign as the Chants topped 200 yards in 11 of their 12 games, including three games with at least 300. He guided Voghens Larrieux to All-America honors, playing both left and right tackle, while running back De'Angelo Henderson earned his second All-America honor, was a national offensive Player of the Year finalist for a second time and was drafted by the Denver Broncos.
During his playing career at Georgia, Jones was a second team All-SEC selection at center as a senior and was elected as the permanent co-captain of the 2006 squad, in addition to earning offensive MVP and the Coaches Leadership Award. He also was the 2006 recipient of the Leon Farmer Strength and Conditioning Award and was chosen for the Academic Roundtable for excellence in the classroom and on the field.
A native of Bowdon, Ga., Jones started 32 consecutive games for the Bulldogs and was part of a senior class that compiled a 40-12 four-year record, 3-1 bowl record, played in two SEC championship games and won the 2005 SEC title. Following his senior season he was selected to play in the prestigious Hula Bowl All-Star Game and signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Seahawks in 2007. He spent parts of two seasons with the Seahawks, New York Giants and Detroit Lions organizations.
A 2006 graduate in risk management and insurance, Jones was named the team's Most Valuable Offensive Player as a senior and was recipient of the Leon Farmer Strength and Conditioning Award.
In 2010, his first year assisting the UGA coaching staff with Coach Bobo, Jones was responsible for preparing the defensive scout team, simulating the upcoming opponent's defense and helping Georgia win the Southeastern Conference East Division.
He is married to the former Katie Hammonds. The couple have a son, Deuce.
BRYAN APPLEWHITE | RECRUITING COORDINATOR/RUNNING BACKS
Bryan Applewhite is in his fifth year at Colorado State in 2019, and his 21st season in coaching, having joined the program as running backs coach on Jan. 3, 2015. He was promoted to add the title of recruiting coordinator to his responsibilities in February 2018. Applewhite previously spent five seasons at the University of Louisiana Monroe, and his arrival in Fort Collins marked a return to his home state of Colorado.
In his four seasons at CSU the Rams have posted two of the top five scoring marks in school history (3rd—35.3 in 2016 and 5th—33.4 in 2017) and two of the top four marks for total offense, including a school-record 492.5 yards per game in 2017 (also 4th, 462.5 in 2016). Also in that span CSU's running backs have posted 24 individual 100-yard rushing games.
In 2018 Applewhite's running backs helped contribute to the 10th-best yards-per-game average in CSU history (410.5). He helped guide senior Izzy Matthews into the top 10 in school history for career rushing yards, finishing 8th with 2,654 yards, and to the No. 4 spot on the all-time rushing touchdowns list (30).
The 2017 Rams also set school records for first downs per game (25.5) and third-down conversions (50.3%). Senior Dalyn Dawkins earned second-team All-Mountain West honors in 2017 with 1,399 yards (fifth on CSU's single-season list) and finished his career third on CSU's all-time rushing list (3,185).
In 2016 Applewhite guided a successful trio of Rams running backs to an average of 217.8 yards per game to rank in the top quartile in the country (31st). Dawkins (a junior), Matthews (a sophomore) and true freshman Marvin Kinsey, Jr., each rushed for more than 500 yards and logged at least 90 carries, with each crossing the 100-yard mark in the same game on one occasion (vs. New Mexico, 11/19). In that contest, CSU totaled 412 rushing yards, the most in 15 seasons and the 8th-best mark in school history. Overall, CSU’s 2,831 net rushing yards and 5.3 yards-per-carry average ranked fifth and second, respectively, in school history.
Applewhite’s running backs also helped the Rams allow just 1.0 sack per game, eighth-fewest in FBS, and just one total in the final six games of the season.
The Rams in 2015 boasted the nation’s 33rd-ranked rushing attack, and for the first time since 1997 at CSU featured two 700-yard running backs (Dawkins and Jason Oden, Jr.) and for the first time since 1977 featured three 500-yard running backs (Dawkins, Oden and freshman Matthews). Each member of that trio rushed for at least 140 yards in a game, making the Rams one of just two FBS teams to do so in 2015.
In his five seasons at ULM (2010-14) Applewhite served as the Warhawks’ running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, and groomed two all-conference running backs. In 2012 ULM’s running backs combined for a total of 19 touchdowns (17 rushing, two receiving) as ULM finished the season with eight wins and made its first appearance in a bowl game (Independence Bowl) since moving up to FBS in 1994.
In 2013 Applewhite’s ULM running backs elevated further as six different running backs recorded 1,239 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Centarius Donald missed the majority of the non-conference season, but came alive in conference play en route to All-Sun Belt honors.
Prior to joining ULM’s staff, Applewhite spent one season at Montana State (2009) and six at Wyoming (2003-08) as running backs coach. In his one season at Montana State, Applewhite coached a two-headed running back tandem that tallied over 1,110 rushing yards and scored 10 touchdowns.
Under his tutelage, Applewhite groomed two of Wyoming’s three all-time leading rushers in Devin Moore (2,963) and Wynel Seldon (2,672). Moore signed a free agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts and Seldon signed a contract with the Washington Redskins. Moore’s 2,963 career rushing yards are the most all-time by a Cowboys player. Seldon holds the school record for most rushing attempts in a career with 636.
Prior to joining the Wyoming staff, he coached at his alma mater, Northern Colorado, from 1999-2002. A standout fullback at Northern Colorado from 1994-98, Applewhite played on teams that won two NCAA Division II National Championships (1996 and 1997), competed in the Division II Playoffs for four straight seasons (1995-98) and won North Central Conference crowns during his junior and senior seasons. During his entire tenure at UNC and Wyoming, Applewhite coached alongside former CSU defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Marty English.
Applewhite, a 1993 graduate of Brighton High School, joined the UNC coaching staff as a graduate assistant in 1999 and was elevated to full-time status in 2000. The Bears finished sixth in Division II in rushing offense (127.8 yards per game) and fourth in total offense (362.1) in 2002, and the 1999 and 2002 Bears competed in the Division II Playoffs.
Applewhite has served as a member of the American Football Coaches’ Association (AFCA) Minority Issues Committee since 2006 and was recently reappointed to the Committee. In 2007, he was named to the AFCA Assistant Coaches’ Committee and participated in the 2004 AFCA Coaches’ Academy.
Applewhite received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northern Colorado in 1998 and his master’s degree in sports administration for Northern Colorado in 2001.
He and his wife Rachelle have two daughters, Morgan and Skylar.
JOE COX | WIDE RECEIVERS
Joe Cox is in his fifth season at Colorado State in 2019 and his first serving as wide receivers coach. He coached the team's tight ends from 2015-18. The former Georgia quarterback, who started every game in 2009 for current Rams head coach Mike Bobo, joined the CSU staff as a graduate assistant in 2015 after coaching for two years at the high school level in his home state of North Carolina.
Cox has helped propel a Rams offense that has turned in some of the most productive seasons in school history. CSU has posted two of the top five scoring seasons in school history (3rd—35.3 in 2016 and 5th—33.4 in 2017) and two of the top four marks for total offense with Cox on the staff, including a school-record 492.5 yards per game in 2017 (also 4th, 462.5 in 2016). The 2017 Rams also set school records for first downs per game (25.5) and third-down conversions (50.3%).
In 2018, with Cox guiding a talented group of tight ends, the Rams ranked 13th in FBS in passing offense (304.9), registered the fourth-highest mark in school history for passing touchdowns with 26 and the 10th-best season for total offense, averaging 410.5 yards per game.
The tight end group played a significant role in the performance of the Rams' record-setting offense in 2017. Senior Dalton Fackrell tied for second on the team with six touchdown receptions among his 26 catches, which ranked fifth on the team, for 313 yards. Freshman Cameron Butler burst onto the scene and added 12 receptions for 171 yards and three touchdowns. His receptions and yards were the most by a CSU freshman tight end since Kory Sperry (15-225) in 2004 and his three touchdowns were most since Matt Bartz (4) in 2002.
In 2016 the Rams’ tight end corps was instrumental in helping the Rams to rank fourth in FBS in red-zone scoring (94.6%), as well as 12th in passing efficiency, 28th in scoring offense (35.3) and 30th in total offense (462.5). The unit also contributed to the Rams’ stellar pass protection, which resulted in a No. 8 national ranking for fewest sacks allowed (1.0), including just one total in the final six games of the season. Their impact on the run game resulted in the second-highest yards-per-carry average (5.3) in school history and the second-best rushing total (2,832 net yards).
Cox was part of the coaching staff at Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, N.C., from 2013-14 when the school won back-to-back state championships. He joined the Mallard Creek staff in 2013 as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2014.
As Georgia’s starting quarterback in 2009, Cox completed 185 of 331 pass attempts for 2,584 yards and 24 touchdowns, at the time the second-best single-season total in UGA history. An offensive captain, Cox led the Bulldogs to a record of 8-5, and was named Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week and SEC Offensive Player of the Week for his five-touchdown, 375-yard performance at Arkansas.
For his career, Cox completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,016 yards and 29 touchdowns with 16 interceptions. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Georgia in December 2009.
Cox was the 2004 state of North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year and AP Prep Player of the Year, and a Parade Magazine All-American at Independence (N.C.) High School. He was the No. 7 quarterback in the nation by Rivals.com and ESPN’s Tom Lemming.
Joe and his wife Erica were married in March 2016 and have one daughter, Avery.
JORDAN JEFFERSON | OFFENSIVE GRADUATE ASSISTANT
FRED ZERBLIS | OFFENSIVE GRADUATE ASSISTANT