Steamboat Springs Ben DeLine’s earliest memory of Colorado State University football was prophetic.
He was 6 or 7 years old when he was on the practice field with his dad, Steve.
The green and gold of the Rams has always been in the DeLines’ blood.
Steve kicked for the football team. Fort Collins is also where he met his wife, Karen.
So even though the comment was probably made in jest, it set the groundwork for what’s evolving into one of the greatest careers for a place kicker in Rams history.
“Man, my earliest memory is (former coach) Sonny Lubick told me he had a spot on the team for me,” DeLine said Saturday between fall practices. “I’m sad that it’s going to be over. You’re here because you love it.”
A 2008 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, Ben is no longer the 140-pound runt he was in high school. He’s transformed into a 200-pound player and one of the best kickers in school history.
Forced into action his freshman year, Ben has quietly put together a career that could potentially get him some professional looks after college.
He needs to make 20 field goals this season to break the Rams record for career field goals. He’ll likely finish in the top three of field goal percentage and kicks made in a season.
Maybe more important, he is well on his way to owning family bragging rights.
He’s 10 field goals away from his dad’s career mark of 42. He’s already made more field goals in a single season, 22, than his dad ever did.
Not that Steve minds.
“I just want him to still enjoy hanging around with his old man,” Steve said. “I want him to have all the bragging rights.”
It hasn’t always been easy for Ben. After making a bowl game with the Rams his freshman year, Colorado State has won just six games the past two seasons.
Through it all, however, Ben has remained even keeled. He said he is relishing his last year of football and truly believes the Rams will be better this year.
There are reasons for optimism. This season will mark coach Steve Fairchild’s fourth year in the program and the first time Colorado State has a returning starting quarterback in sophomore Pete Thomas.
And should the offense stall, it has a senior kicker who has won games with his right foot.
“I really have some high goals set for Ben,” Rams special teams coach Larry Lewis said. “I think he could be one of the better kickers in our conference. That needs to be his expectation.”
Ben said it’s amazing to him that he’s a senior. The time with the team, he said, has gone quick. He can remember the doldrums of practice his freshman and sophomore years. He can remember making game-winners, and he certainly remembers all the misses.
He said he’s trying to not think past the first game — a Sept. 3 contest at New Mexico. He hasn’t thought about playing professional football or what he might do with his animal science degree.
“We’re rebuilding and getting better,” he said. “I’d like to see us win enough to go to a bowl game since it’s my last season. But I try not to think too far ahead. Nothing good comes with that when you have a year of college football left.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com