Steamboat Springs When Colorado and Colorado State face one another today at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium, a familiar Steamboat Springs face will be standing on the Rams' sideline.
Former Steamboat Springs football standout Derek Haverley isn't expected to see any playing time in the game, but the college freshman will suit up and is eagerly anticipating the day when he will get his chance to battle the Buffs in the Rams' starting lineup.
"He had plenty of scholarship offers to smaller colleges," Derek's mother, Janet Haverley said. "But he told me he wanted to play for a Division One team. It has always been his dream."
Back in mid-August, Haverley's dream got a big boost when coaches from CSU called him at home and invited him to come to Fort Collins for football camp.
Haverley had planned on walking on, but they allowed him to join the team two full weeks before the other walk-ons were scheduled to arrive.
"It's a huge opportunity," Sailors head coach Mark Drake said. "But, more importantly, he made the most of it."
Haverley caught the eyes of the CSU coaching staff with hard work and some big plays. The former Steamboat Springs receiver and defensive back even managed to score a touchdown against the Rams starting defense in a preseason scrimmage.
Drake said those types of things will go a long way toward helping the young player when spring ball starts next year.
"I'm truly grateful to coach Drake," Haverley said. "He told me (what) I needed to do to make this happen ... and it did."
Drake said he never told Haverley what to do, but encouraged the young player to keep in contact with the CSU coaches and get in the Rams weight training program during the summer months. The local high school coach was hoping by doing this Haverley would get his name circulating among the Rams' coaching staff.
Haverley did and it resulted in a phone call a couple of weeks ago that landed the Steamboat player in the Rams' practices. It seems several of the Rams upcoming receivers were injured or academically ineligible. When the coaching staff started looking for replacements, Haverley's name was at the top of the list.
Haverley said he has been on cloud nine since getting a call from the Colorado State coaching staff.
He reported to practice Aug. 20 and started making an immediate impression on the coaches. The local standout has been mentioned by the CSU coaching staff several times in the metro Denver newspapers and has been shining on the football field as well.
"This is my ideal .... It is a dream come true," Haverley said.
This week, however, Haverley and his scout squad teammates have been playing the enemy as the Rams prepare for their season opener against in-state rival Colorado University..
"I'm a Colorado receiver this week," Haverley said. "It's my job to play as hard as I can in practice and make sure our players are ready for the game."
It's a job the former Sailor isn't taking lightly. Haverley said the battle between the two Colorado schools is a huge one and he can tell by the way the older players are acting in practice.
"The guys have already been talking about it," Haverley said. "This is one of the biggest games of the season for our team and we will be ready."
As far as his long-term goals go, Haverley is just taking things one practice and one day at a time. Sure, he wants to break into the starting lineup, but he knows that will take some time.
"He's still got a lot to learn," Drake said. "It's hard to make it in Division One football. But I know that Derek has the tools and the desire to make it."