Running back Dee Hart, the transfer running back from Alabama who three years ago was one of the top-rated high recruits in the country, practiced with Colorado State Monday and will be eligible to play for the Rams this season and in 2015.

Hart's imminent arrival was no secret, but CSU coach Jim McElwain wasn't able to confirm the plans and talk about Hart until after he participated in the Rams' first pre-season practice Monday.

In fact, McElwain — the offensive coordinator who recruited Hart for Alabama when the running back was a high school star in Orlando — brought up Hart even before he was asked about him.

"You guys obviously had an opportunity out here to see a new member (of the team) in Dee Hart," McElwain said. "I've kind of known him since, shoot, he was a freshman in high school. We're really excited to give him an opportunity. I'm probably more excited than anything that he just finished his degree and was the first person in his family to get a college degree.

"That's something I'm really proud of because that's something I promised him when I recruited him. Now we'll get an opportunity to give him a chance to go get a master's degree."

Hart underwent ACL knee surgery and redshirted in 2011 at Alabama, then gained 166 yards on 43 carries in limited duty for the Crimson Tied the past two seasons.

Although Hart is a first-year player in the CSU program, McElwain modified his usual stance and allowed the 5-foot-9, 190-pound running back to speak with the media after practice.