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The CU Offensive Line remains in flux – Is that a positive sign or a bad omen?

If you were preparing a write-up for a preseason magazine, and only did a cursory review of CU’s offensive line roster, you could write a sentence or two along the lines of:

“Colorado returns four starters along the offensive line, led by senior guard Tim Lynott. The CU offensive line has paved the way for 1,000-yard rushers each of the past three seasons, and have plenty of experienced players, but will need to improve pass protection if the Buffs are to go bowling this fall”.

Or, if the author only looked at how the Buffs line up for the spring game, they could put something like this in their preview of Colorado:

“Colorado’s offensive line is in disarray. Only one player, left tackle Will Sherman, seems to have carried over as a starter in the same position from last fall, and Sherman is only a sophomore. New offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic continues to try different lineups in hopes of finding a starting five in time for the August 30th opener against Colorado State”.

In one preview, CU is touted as having four returning starters; in the other, the Buffs have only one.

In truth, both would be correct.

On paper, offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic has enough experience on the line to plug in most of his starters – Will Sherman played most of last season at left tackle; Tim Lynott started nine games last fall at right guard; Brett Tonz started six games at left guard; and Colby Pursell started every game at center.

Put graduate transfer (from Oklahoma State) Arlington Hambright at right tackle, and you’re done – five starters, including three seniors.

In reality, however, the starting lineup for this fall remains very much a questions mark.

The only consensus pick at starter right now seems to be Will Sherman at left tackle. After that? It’s anybody’s guess.

Tim Lynott has the most starts (34, including a bowl game) of any player on the CU roster and appears to be settling in at the center position where he has seen spot duty over the last several years.

Colby Pursell, last season’s center, is moving to guard, but has been hampered by injuries this spring, opening up some practice time for different players.

Some names to keep in mind as spring practices turn into summer workouts and fall camp:

Arlington Hambright is not on campus yet, but is penciled in by many as CU’s starting right tackle for 2019. The 6-foot-5, 308-pound Hambright started the first five games at left tackle for Oklahoma State last season before suffering an injury that kept him out until the bowl game. He and Dylan Galloway split time at left tackle in OSU’s win over Missouri in the Liberty Bowl.

Hambright will be eligible in the fall at Colorado as a graduate transfer. Originally from Ypsilanti, Michigan, Hambright came to OSU from Garden City Community College in Kansas. After two seasons at Garden City, he redshirted in 2017 with the Cowboys before joining the starting lineup last fall. He would have been in competition for the starting left tackle job starting in the spring.

Jack Shutack is a name most Buff fans won’t remember, as it has been some time since we’ve talked about him. Shuteck started his college career at Rutgers. Shutack has been lining up with the No. 1 group at right tackle and guard this spring.

“Love it,” Shutack told Neill Woelk after Monday’s practice. “Honestly, I don’t care where I I play, I just want to play. I’ll line up wherever they ask me and do whatever they need me to do.”

After a redshirt freshman season at Rutgers in 2015, Shutack transferred to the College of DuPage in 2016 but did not play football there. He came to Colorado in 2017 and redshirted again, and finally got back on the field last year for a handful of plays on offense and special teams.

Now, the 6-foot-6, 295-pounder is competing for some playing time.

“It’s great to be back out there and playing,” Shutack said. “I have a great center in Tim, who tells me what to do. It’s definitely a learning process, but I think I’m making some strides. Some of the details in my sets, I have to iron out, and some of my  footwork as well. But the big thing is you have to keep grinding. Everybody’s excited on the first day of spring ball; you have to be able to keep that up when you get to the end.”

— It’s a surprise – and a relief – that Frank Fillip is even still on the roster. For several weeks in the winter, there were rumors that Fillip had decided to leave the team, possibly to transfer elsewhere. In an interview with the Daily Camera, Fillip declined to talk about why he considered leaving, but had no hesitation in answering why he returned.

“I think the biggest thing was just the guys,” he said. “I wanted to be around them. It’s like a family. It’s hard to just walk away from a family.”

Now firmly back in the fold, the 6’7″, 272-pound sophomore tackle is not only a willing participant in spring drills, he’s excited about participating.

“Practices are so much more fun (this year),” Fillip said. “I know they’re not supposed to be fun. Obviously they’re hard, but it feels rewarding. I enjoy the competition. That’s something I like to have. The coaches really, really encourage it and I like that.

“It’s just the culture. It’s very competitive and go, go, go. I think it’s good for us.”

Last season, Fillip was in for 207 plays on offense, including two starts at right tackle.

Casey Roddick hasn’t played a down of football since 2017, but the red-shirt freshman is in the mix for playing time this fall.

A member of Colorado’s 2017 recruiting class, Roddick grayshirted, then arrived in Boulder last spring. A handful of practices in, he was sidelined with a knee injury, resulting in a redshirt year.

“I have always loved football but when you miss it and you’re not doing it, you really discover exactly how much you love it,” Roddick told BuffStampede.com. “It was tough to stay patient but it was only a matter of time before I got back in gear and now I’m back.”

Roddick was 385 pounds when enrolled at Colorado. He is now on his way to achieving his goal of being 320 when the 2019 season begins.

“I came in at a place where I didn’t want to be,” he reflected. “At today’s weigh in I was 336. Since spring ball started, I have lost about 15 pounds.”

Shutack, Fillip and Roddick may not be in the starting lineup this fall, but they do give Buff fans some confidence in the depth which is being created along the CU offensive line.

And don’t expect the experimentation by offensive line coach Chris Kapolivic.

“I’m hoping I can change the depth chart daily, weekly so there’s some real competition and guys are trying to take each other’s jobs on a daily basis,” he said during the first week of spring practices.

Just like Kapilovic, the players have embraced the change and the challenge as they go through spring drills.

“They haven’t second-guessed anything, and they really are accepting the challenge,” Kapilovic said. “That makes it fun to go out there. It’s great to have a group of kids that really want to be good and want to win and they’re willing to put the work in.”

So, when you are flipping through this spring’s Athlon, Lindy’s and Street and Smith previews, and the discussion concerning CU’s offensive line is either lauding the Buffs for having four returning starters, or damning the Buffs for having too little cohesion in the unit, don’t worry about it.

They’re both right.

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One Reply to “Offense Line Shuffling – Good News or Bad Omen?”

  1. Barring wholesale injuries how could the O line be any worse than last year? Its still spring and the shuffling makes sense given how the O line was last year. I am also hoping the play design and game time calling will be better….a whole lot better which should keep the opposing D on their heels and thus help the O line. That makes me cautiously optimistic.
    and how bout that Derrick White? Can someone tell me who the Noogies picked ahead of him and where that player is now?

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