Spring Practice: Position Battles

 

Spring Practices … By the numbers

Spring Practices open February 22nd, with the Spring Game on Saturday, March 18th (1:00 p.m., Pac-12 Networks, KOA radio).

Teams are allowed 15 practices over 29 days.  Teams are allowed, per NCAA rules: three in shorts (no contact), four in pads (no tackling), four in pads (tackling allowed 50 percent or less of the practice and four in pads (with tackling throughout).

Posted below … Quarterbacks and running backs … Wide receivers and tight ends … and Offensive Line

 

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Offensive Line

Players lost: Alex Kelley; Sam Kronshage; Shane Callahan; Sully Wiefels; Colin Sutton; John Lisella

Seniors: Jeromy Irwin, 6’5″, 295; Gerrad Kough, 6’4″, 295; Jonathan Huckins, 6’4″, 295

Juniors: Josh Kaiser, 6’5″, 295

Sophomores: Tim Lynott, Jr., 6’3, 300; Aaron Haigler, 6’7″, 270; Isaac Miller, 6’7″, 280; Dillon Middlemiss, 6’5″, 295; Mo Bandi, 6’5″, 265; Justin Eggers, 6’5″, 310

Red-shirt freshmen: Hunter Vaughn 6’7″, 290; Kolter Smith, 6’2″, 265

True freshmen: Chance Lytle*, 6’7″, 290; Colby Pursell, 6’4″, 290*; Jacob Moretti*, 6’4, 270; Heston Paige, 6’5″, 270; Grant Polley, 6’4″, 265; William Sherman, 6’3″, 295; Casey Roddick, 6’4″, 340

bold = starter in 2016 …  Italics = non-scholarship player … *Early enrollee …

 

2016 statistics for returning players:

Tim Lynott, Jr. – 14 starts … 940 plays … 2251.5 points … Grade: 2.40

Jeromy Irwin – 13 starts … 896 plays … 2060.0 points … Grade: 2.30

Gerrad Kough … 11 starts … 669 plays … 1574.0 points … Grade: 2.35

Aaron Haigler … 7 starts … 548 plays … 1325.5 points … Grade: 2.42

Jonathan Huckins … 3 starts … 368 plays … 877.5 points … Grade: 2.38

 

What to Watch For this Spring

Only one player along the Colorado offensive line started every game last fall, that being red-shirt freshman Tim Lynott, Jr., who started 14 games at right guard.

So, at least one position is set heading into the 2017 season, right?

Perhaps not.

Senior Alex Kelley was a fixture at center the past few seasons, and has moved on, graduating with degrees in English and Evolutionary Biology. Lynott, who weighed in at 6’3″, 300 pounds last fall, may well move over from right guard to the center position this spring.

There are four other returning players with at least 368 plays of experience from last fall, with Jeromy Irwin and Aaron Haigler back at tackle, and Gerrad Kough and Jonathan Huckins back at guard. If Lynott moves over to center, as expected, this may well be the starting lineup come September 1st.

Five positions. Five players back with extensive experience.

All in, all done?

Perhaps, but offensive line coach Klayton Adams doesn’t believe that will necessarily be the case.

“It’s the same thing that I told those guys when we started this whole journey last February,” Adams told the Daily Camera. “I don’t care how many games you’ve started; I don’t care what position you play. The best five guys are going to play.”

To give equal opportunity, Adams will move players to different positions to find their comfort zone. He also said he likes to put players in different situations, such as having someone used to playing with the starters line up with the backups; or having someone used to running with the scout team play with the starters.

“All of a sudden you start playing next to a guy that’s started 20 games and you look like a better player, or you start doing some of the things that that guy does,” Adams said.

This spring, the players hoping to make an impression include junior Josh Kaiser, sophomores Dillon Middlemiss and Isaac Miller and redshirt freshman Hunter Vaughn. There are also two “true” freshmen who will make their debuts this spring, grayshirts Colby Pursell and Chance Lytle. Pursell and Lytle are grayshirts from the Recruiting Class of 2016, who last saw action as high school seniors back in the fall of 2015.

While there is plenty of room for competition this spring, there is also a great deal of excitement about the future of the CU offensive line. Colorado signed five offensive lineman this February, but none of the five will have a chance to make a case for playing as true freshmen until this fall (Jacob “Jake” Moretti enrolled early, but has lingering knee issues which will keep him from participating in spring ball).

The Buffs do lose Kelley, and another longtime contributor, Sam Kronshage, who opted not to play his senior season. Still, there is momentum carrying over from 2016 which gives the returning players confidence.

“I think our offensive line is going to be pretty good next year and we’re going to carry on the stuff we learned this year into next year and get better,” Lynott said. “I think it’s going to carry on to the freshmen coming in next year as we ll. We’re going to teach them what the seniors taught us and continue that legacy.”

We’ll leave the last word to offensive line coach Klayton Adams – “We’re going to put the best five out there, I can promise you that”.

 

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Wide Receivers

Players lost:  Jaleel Awini; Justin Jan; Sean Grundman; David Bagby; Danny Galloway; Joey Hall

Seniors: Shay Fields; Devin Ross; Bryce Bobo; Kabion Ento; Robert Orban

Juniors: Jay MacIntyre; Juwann Winfree; Lee Walker; Xavier Cochrane; Kevin Dement

Sophomores: Johnny Huntley

Red-shirt freshmen: Derrion Rakestraw

True freshmen: Jaylon Jackson*; Maurice Bell; Laviska Shenault; K.D. Nixon; Curtis Chiaverini

bold = starter in 2016 …  Italics = non-scholarship player … *Early enrollee, will participate in spring ball

2016 statistics for returning players:

Devin Ross … 66 catches for 765 yards … five touchdowns

Shay Fields … 52 catches for 845 yards … nine touchdowns

Byrce Bobo … 41 catches for 523 yards … two touchdowns

Jay MacIntyre … 30 catches for 390 yards … one touchdown

Kabion Ento … eight catches for 174 yards … two touchdowns

Johnny Huntley … one catch for 14 yards

What to Watch For this Spring

This past week, the Coloradoan in Ft. Collins ran a story entitled, “Is Colorado State becoming Wide Receiver U?“.

Pul-lease.

Receiving offense, 2016 … Colorado, 28th in the nation; Colorado State, 48th.

There are many, many schools who have a better claim to “Wide Receiver U” than CSU, so we won’t belabor the point. Suffice it to say, however, that Buff fans should be more than happy to compare CU’s receiving corps with CSU’s, and, in fact, with almost any team in the nation.

Almost every player who caught a ball for the Buffs last season returns (No. 10 on the list graduated – Sefo Liufau, who had one catch for 14 yards in 2016).

Some numbers:

– Shay Fields is sixth all-time at CU in in receptions (144), ninth in touchdown receptions (17) and 10th in yards (1,929); he has caught two or more TD passes in three career games.  A true deep threat, he has nine career plays of 50 yards or longer (seven of which are over 60 yards). Fields was third-team All-Pac-12 (Phil Steele) and honorable mention All-Pac-12 (coaches).

– Devin Ross is tied for 15th in school history (with his position coach Darrin Chiaverini) with 97 receptions, and is 21st in receiving yards with 1,113. Ross earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 last season (coaches).

– Bryce Bobo also earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors from the league coaches last season. He ranked third on the team in receiving yards with 523 and was fourth in receptions with 41.

And that’s before we talk about Juwann Winfree. The former four-star prospect who came to CU from Maryland by way of Coffeyville Community College (Kan.), Winfree was supposed to be the player who made Buff fans forget the loss of Nelson Spruce. Instead, Winfree suffered a torn ACL last August, and has been recovering ever since.

Winfree will likely be limited this spring, which means there is little at stake other than the returning starters forming a positive working relationship with CU’s presumptive starting quarterback, Steven Montez.

Considering Montez threw for 823 yards seven touchdowns in his three starts last fall …

— Shay Fields had his most productive game of the season – seven catches for 169 yards and three touchdowns against Oregon State … with Montez at the helm;

— Devin Ross had his most productive game of the season – seven catches for 153 yards and a score against Oregon … with Montez at the helm;

— Byrce Bobo had his highest catch total of the season – ten catches for 83 yards and a score against USC … with Montez at the helm (not to mention the game-winning touchdown against Oregon).

Sounds like the makings for a productive spring …

 

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Tight Ends / H-Backs

Players lost: Sean Irwin; Chris Hill; Brian Boatman

Seniors: George Frazier

Juniors: Dylan Keeney

Sophomores: Chris Bounds

Red-shirt freshmen: Derek Coleman

True freshmen: Sebastian Olver; Jared Poplawski

bold = starter in 2016 …  Italics = non-scholarship player … *Early enrollee, will participate in spring ball

2016 statistics for returning players:

Dylan Keeney … one catch for eight yards

Chris Bounds … one catch for eight yards

What to Watch For this Spring

Two total catches for the CU tight ends last season.

Pretty much says it all.

Mike MacIntyre came to Boulder fresh off of a 2012 season at San Jose State in which the offense had an All-Conference, NFL drafted tight end.

At Colorado, the tight end position has been a non-factor, at least in terms of receptions.

That may be changing.

CU picked up a true tight end late in the recruiting process this February, flipping former Arizona State commit Jared Poplawski. The Buffs also picked up an “athlete” in Sebastian Olver, who may also end up playing tight end.

Neither Poplawski nor Olver will be on campus until this summer. In the meantime, only Dylan Keeney and Chris Bounds, they of the combined two catches for 16 yards in 2016, will be on the roster.

So those hoping to see the return of tight ends to the CU offense will have to continue to wait … at least until August.

 

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Quarterbacks

Players lost: Sefo Liufau; Jordan Gerhke

Seniors: T.J. Patterson

Juniors: None

Sophomores: Steven Montez; Tyler McGarry

Red-shirt freshmen: Sam Noyer; Casey Marksberry

True freshmen: Tyler Lytle*

bold = starter in 2016 …  Italics = non-scholarship player … *Early enrollee, will participate in spring ball

 

2016 statistics for returning players:

Steven Montez … 79-for-131 (60.3%) for 1,017 yards passing … nine touchdowns; four interceptions … 51 carries for 231 yards rushing (fourth on the team) … one touchdown

 

What to Watch For this Spring

Everyone knows … Steven Montez will be the primary quarterback when spring practices open.

Not everyone remembers … This is the second year in a row in which that is a true statement.

When Spring Practices opened last March, Sefo Liufau was in the middle of his rehabilitation, and the presumed starter for the 2016 season, Davis Webb, was taking classes at Texas Tech. The latest “quarterback of the future”, recruit Sam Noyer, was still in high school, not set to report until June.

Which left senior Jordan Gehrke, sophomore Cade Apsay, and red-shirt freshman Steven Montez as the only scholarship quarterbacks on the roster (unless you were one of those Buff fans hoping that the coaching staff would find a way to get Air Force transfer Jaleel Awini behind center instead of split out as a wide receiver).

As it turned out, Davis Webb never came to Boulder. Sefo Liufau, a question mark until August, returned to lead Colorado to its first winning season since 2005, and the first ten-win campaign since 2001.

So, spring ball, 2016, meant little to the quarterback position?

Hardly.

Steven Montez took advantage of his spring practices when he was called upon to take over the reins when Liufau went down again in the Michigan game. In his first start, on the road against perennial power Oregon, Montez led the Buffs to a 41-38 win, one of the most important victories for the program in the past decade. Montez threw for 333 yards and rushed for 135 more against the Ducks, becoming the first quarterback in school history to turn in a 300/100 yard performance (matched later in the season by Liufau against Washington State).

Montez went on to start the next two games, a 47-6 thumping of Oregon State, and a tough 21-17 loss to USC, before giving the keys to the offense back to Sefo Liufau.

Based upon his experience, Montez enters the 2017 as the clear favorite to be the starter in 2017.

This spring, Montez will have two scholarship quarterbacks with which to contend.

Sam Noyer will be going through his first spring in Boulder, his first real opportunity to show what he has learned carrying a clipboard last fall.

Tyler Lytle, meanwhile, graduated high school in December, started classes in January, and will be a full-go for spring practices.

On paper, it is a three-way battle to replace four-year starter Sefo Liufau.

In practice, there are more realistic questions for spring practices, 2017:

1) Can Steven Montez show that he is ready to take over as the starting quarterback? Can he become a team leader? Can he establish a relationship with CU’s fine stable of running backs and wide receivers?; and, if so …

2) Who will become the primary backup for the Buffs? History has shown that teams usually don’t make it through the year with just one quarterback. Will Sam Noyer take advantage of his full year in Boulder, or will Tyler Lytle show that he is ready, as a true freshman, to take over when necessary?

It will be an interesting spring …

 

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Running Backs

Players lost: Joey Tuggle; Dino Gordon

Seniors: Phillip Lindsay; Michael Adkins; Donovan Lee; Tanner Grzesiek

Juniors: Kyle Evans

Sophomores: Beau Bisharat

Red-shirt freshmen: none

Coming this fall: Alex Fontenot

bold = starter in 2016; italics = non-scholarship player

 

2016 statistics for returning players:

Phillip Lindsay … 230 carries for 1,189 yards … 16 touchdowns … 47 receptions for 390 yards and one touchdown

Kyle Evans … 84 carries for 346 yards … three touchdowns … eight catches for 114 yards

Donovan Lee … 28 carries for 97 yards … seven catches for 38 yards

Beau Bisharat … 15 carries for 45 yards

Michael Adkins … 10 carries for 30 yards and one touchdown … one catch for one yard

 

A year ago, the question was how the Buffs were going to replace Christian Powell, who led the team in rushing for three of the previous four years. Adding to the consternation was the fact, that, even with Powell, Colorado had averaged 156.2 yards per game rushing in 2015 … 86th in the nation.

Enter Phillip Lindsay.

Not only did Lindsay end the “running back by committee” issue which had plagued the Buffs over the first three years of the Mike MacIntyre era, he did so in impressive fashion.

Lindsay rushed for 1,189 yards, the first 1,000-yard back for CU since Rodney Stewart in 2010. His 16 rushing touchdowns were the most since Chris Brown posted 18 rushing scores in 2002. Lindsay is not only the Buffs’ leading running back, he is also one of the vocal leaders of the team (if you need proof, check out The Rise videos from this past season).

So, no drama at the running back position this spring?

Actually, the concern this spring is not whether Lindsay will return as starter, but how the CU coaching staff will utilize the other players on the roster.

There are only four other scholarship backs in Boulder this spring, with only one other new back, Alex Fontenot, coming in this fall.

Michael Adkins and Donovan Lee are, along with Lindsay, seniors. Adkins has been plagued by injuries throughout his career at CU, while Lee, at 5’9″, 180-pounds, has never been seen as a between-the-tackles back.

So, will this be the spring in which Kyle Evans or Beau Bisharat show themselves as the future of the program?

Evans, a junior this fall, had a few impressive moments last year. Evans had five games with at least ten carries … but had only six carries for 11 yards in the final five games.

Bisharat, playing as a true freshman, also disappeared from the rotation. After earning 12 carries in the first two games, Bisharat only had three carries the remainder of the year, and those came in garbage time against Oregon State.

Bisharat came to Boulder as a four-star prospect, and was on the field as a true freshman last fall. He was considered to be the future of the CU running game, and he may still prove to be.

That effort begins this spring …

 

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16 Replies to “Spring Position Battles: Offense”

  1. “We’re going to put the best five out there, I can promise you that”

    Adams said that last year. And he did. The difference this year is he has more to chose from. The Oline was okay last year, but not great and maybe not even good. They played hard though but pretty much were “out talented and skilled”

    The freshman

    Guard….Polley. You watch his film and you can’t helped be impressed
    Center….Sherman. Yup he is gonna be a center. Under appreciated. Surprise
    Guard…..Roddick. Gonna see a lot of runs over his side. Big not fat. start
    Tackle..Moretti Gonna be a star. Working through injury
    Tackle..Page. A little on the light side. Redshirt? Some like him alot
    Tackle..Lytle… Excellent potential Could be two deep RS after greyshirt?
    Tackle..Pursell Again good potential. Hard to say

    RSF Vaughn Mcchennsey (sp) says he is a good one.
    Sophs
    .Lynott.. A really good player. Does he move to center? Maybe or not?
    Middlemiss and Miller it is there time. 3rd year.
    Eggers, a walk on. Big. Heard many good comments about him. We will see
    Hagler. Seems lite.

    Irwin is a lock Huckins and Kough may not start.

    Anyway that was quite a babble. Guess I just could said the Oline will be the best it has been in years and years to come.

    Buff Up

    Note: Warning……… Do not underestimate this Freshman class.

      1. No Prob.; it was just that I had projected him to be in the 2 deep after Fall Camp. This is is one BIG and Talented dude.

  2. The issue with the tight ends is indeed an interesting one. Only two catches all year? Would love to know if there where any other Div 1 teams that failed to use the the tight end as much as CU did. I think the reason people get upset is that it would be like the Navy having a battleship, destroyer and a submarine in its Arsenal, but only using the battleship and destroyer in battle. (Maybe that was a bad analogy). Bottom line is the Buffs won 10 games without the tight end, so maybe it’s ok. I just want to see all available weapons used on Saturdays this fall.

  3. sorry to bring this up but what about kicking part of the team ??? have the buffs
    got the men in place to do the job when a field goal maybe needed??? I really think that the weak link is the extra point and field goal and punting teams are on the field. Maybe i am wrong but they werent very good last year.

    s

  4. Yo Stuart,

    Can I request as you move forward on the position battles that you list the height/weight of the players. Here’s the numbers according to the cubuffs.com.

    Wide Receivers

    Shay Fields 5-11 180

    Devon Ross 5-11 180

    Derrion Rakestraw 6-2 175

    Bryce Bobo 6-2 190

    Johnny Huntly 6-3 210

    Juwann Winfree 6-3 205

    Jaylon Jackson 5-10 170

    Jay MacIntyre 5-10 190

    Kabion Ento 6-3 180

    Lee Walker 6-0 180

    Lots of big targets who should have an advantage over many of the DB’s they will be facing.

    Running backs is a whole other matter.

    Michael Adkins 5-10 205

    Kyle Evans 5-6 175

    Phillip Lindsay 5-8 190

    Beau Bisharat 6-2 215

    Donovan Lee 5-9 180

    Other than Bisharat, these guys are too small. That’s not to say there is not a place for a smaller back, but they should not be the average. Lindsay is special. He runs hard and blocks hard and he is the vocal heart of the team. Lindsay reminds me a lot of Eric Bieniemy (one of my favorite Buffs ever). Granted, they’re are lots of guys who go to the combine who are under six feet tall as running backs, but almost all of them are above 200 pounds because they need to be able to block as well as run. Bisharat has the body type to add another 10-15 pounds of muscle. 230 lbs. of muscle is a lot harder to stop on third or fourth and short than 175.

    Looking forward to the growth of the offense this year, and I hope all these guys are working extremely hard with Drew Wilson to increase their strength and speed.

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

  5. Know that you are probably friendly w/Mac but the SI story is damming…already was disappointed we didn’t fire Mac before last season (seriously) and replace him w/Levitt. The story plus his lack of actual coaching ability (O is Chiv, D was Levitt, Special Teams was Mac) makes me very, very concerned. Hopefully our recent recruiting success (tied to facilities not Mac) can overcome the coaching deficiencies.

  6. Wow, the Receiving corps is stacked. They lost nobody really. Be very interesting to see who the Real top 6 or so receivers are. Some young ones coming in that are gonna change up the pecking order. Redshrit em? That is gonna be a tough call. And you can bet if you look at the offer list, there are more right behind them for next year. 4 every year,and the best will play. (I hope) There a couple of jr and sr that have been productive but have no where near the talent rolling in here in the summer. It is a new deal.

    Tight ends? Why recruit them? The CO-OC’s don’t use em as receivers, even though most really good teams do. Hey just put another tackle out there. Now certainly that is gonna change right? Maybe Hell freezes over in the fall. And of course you know my total disregard for ol 8-5-8-7 and the now going to be 5 year experiment. Well the loan guys say the 5th year is a charm. Hope so.

    I love Sefo, but the “feel” is the three here now, and the one coming next year will be able to take advantage of this receiving corps for the next 5 years. Wow.

    Like this thing you do Stuart and most sites do it, but you do just fine.

    Buffs Up

  7. The Coloradoan is a never ending source of amusement. Homers to the max. Necessary up in Fort Fun to bolster the egos I guess. To their credit they have a ways to go to get as outrageous as our new pres.

  8. new season always open doors to players who will step up some pleasant surprizes hopefully.let the players do the talking and well see who steps up .only thing is some have a hell of a spring and never pan out come fall.

  9. Yo Stuart,

    It’s not like Bisharat was doing nothing this past season… the guy was an absolute beast on special teams while he continued to learn the playbook. It’s been so long since CU had a good big back like Beau. I hope that Mac and Lindy use him instead of continuing to overuse the QB running like they have for way too long for every short yardage situation. If not, expect the Buffs to go through several quarterbacks. And please, don’t use Evans (who I love on most downs) ever again on 4th and 1 against a stacked box. The guy weighs 160 pounds.

    Mark
    Boulderdevil

    1. I haven’t seen anything yet, and I’ve seen two different times for the spring game (10:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. – let’s hope it’s not the former).
      I’ll add it to the top of the page if anything on Spring Game events is released.

  10. Ya have to feel real good about the QB position even though they are young.

    Montez showed a lot last year.
    Noyer has had great comments from the coaching staff and observers.
    Lytle is a talent and a leader.

    Oline, rb, te, wr, and coordinators all play a heavy role in the success of the offense, but without a talented “trigger man” ????

    Now the running backs are a bit of a different story IMHO

    Lindsay will be Lindsay, thank God, and probably better. Love that kid.

    Adkins will get hurt

    Lee has never been used correctly and hopefully there is a change here.

    Evans is nice but he ain’t Lindsay

    Bisharat was wide-eyed last year. Sounded homesick. Probably should have redshirted him but, he didn’t want that. Hopefully he has grown-up and understands this ain’t high school football. He has the talent. Just needs to get to the next step in development physical and mental. Some say he should move to LB which he all so played very well in high school He wants to be a rb. So just hope he does take a gigantic step and can be that dynamic big back that has been missing really.

    Fontenot will not redshirt. He will play this year. He may be the best back on the team already.

    Gonna have to step up the recruiting of RB’s next year. Big time.

    Buff Up

  11. We need a bigger back to complement Lindsay! Somebody…anybody. And please throw to the Tight End, which should only help to loosen up the running game.

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