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Post-Spring Depth Chart – Defense

With CU’s 15 spring practices in the books, and the May 1st deadline for players to put their names into the Transfer Portal approaching, the 85-man roster for the 2022 season is becoming more and more solidified. There will be a few more additions via the Portal this spring, and perhaps a few more decisions to leave (e.g., DE Jeremiah Doss medically retired this week), but the roster which will take the field behind Ralphie VI in the September 2nd opener against TCU is pretty well set.

A unit-by-unit look at the 2022 Buffs …

— Defensive Tackles (7) … Returning starter (bold); walk-on (italics):

  • Seniors … Janaz Jordan … Justin Jackson …
  • Juniors … Jalen SamiNa’im RodmanKanaan Turnbull
  • Sophomores … None
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Allan Baugh …  Tyas Martin … Blake Weiher … Mason Maddox 
  • 2022 Signees … Aaron Austin

Depth Chart … With Colorado switching away from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense, the role for the defensive tackles is evolving. Jalen Sami (28 games; 24 starts) and Na’im Rodman (30 games; nine starts) bring a wealth of experience to the fold. Seniors Janaz Jordan (27 games; six starts) and Justin Jackson bring some quality depth to the interior of the CU defensive line. Jackson is a senior, but came to CU via the community college route, and is just now becoming a solid contributor. Allan Baugh and Tyas Martin will contribute, but hopefully will only be used as substitutions in their redshirt freshmen years.

Comments … The CU defensive line has gone through three position coaches in the past six months. Defensive coordinator Chris Wilson coached the defensive line last season. While retaining his coordinator position, Wilson is coaching the outside linebackers this season, giving up the defensive line coaching position to Vic So’oto, who last as an CU assistant coach for all of two months. Gerald Chatman was hired on March 7th, right before the start of spring practices. While players are young and resilient, it’s hard to overstate the significance of how hard it can be to keep swaying out coaches. I just had my NIL podcast interview with Jalen Sami (to be posted in a few weeks), and he noted that he has gone through six position coaches (not to mention three head coaches) in his tenure in Boulder.

“Really good teacher,” Chris Wilson said of Chatman. “Builds really good relationships with players, which is important. Once they know you care, they’ll let you coach them. He’s done a really good job of doing that.  Not only that, he just brings an extensive background and knowledge from the NFL, from being in the SEC at LSU. So he’s got a really good knowledge base. He’s able to take some of the things that we’re doing here and improve them and he’s bringing some things with him.”

— Defensive Ends / Outside Linebackers (11) … Returning starter (bold):

  • Seniors … Terrance Lang … Jamar Montgomery … Guy Thomas … Chance Main (TR)
  • Juniors … None
  • Sophomores … Joshka Gustav … Alvin Williams
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Devin Grant … Zion Magalei … Ryan Williams … Mason Midgett
  • 2022 Signees … Shakaun Bowser … Kaden Ludwick … Brady Kopetz

Depth Chart … Terrance Lang has the opportunity to be an All-Pac-12 performer in his senior season, and the switch to the 4-3 defense may help in his pursuit. Guy Thomas has nine career starts, but has yet to demonstrate he can be a game-changing performer, while Jamar Montgomery brings 19 games of experience to the fold. The real question is whether Joshka Gustav and Alvin Williams are ready to take the next step and become regular contributors.

Comments … Karl Dorrell commented on several occasions this spring that he was impressed with the depth of the defensive line. “Terrance Lang missed the last two weeks of spring but you probably hardly noticed if we needed him or not, given that the depth of the team is really, really encouraging”, Dorrell said after the Spring Showcase. “Of course we need Terrance, but my point is, I feel like we have some capable players that can really play at the similar level as some of the guys that are starters. I am really encouraged with what our defense is doing.”

“It is the best depth we’ve had since I got here,” said Jamar Montgomery. “Everyone is versatile and is doing their thing, doing what they do.”

— Inside Linebackers (8) … Returning starter (bold):

  • Seniors … Quinn Perry … Robert Barnes … Josh Chandler-Semedo (TR)
  • Juniors … None
  • Sophomores … Marvin Ham … Isaac Hurtado (TR)
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Mister Williams … Thomas Notarainni
  • 2022 Signees … Eoghan Kerry (EE) … Aubrey Smith … Jack Remington

Depth Chart … There were questions about the depth of the inside linebacker position heading into the 2022 campaign, and the CU coaching staff has taken measures to correct that problem. First, the Buffs added Isaac Hurtado, a transfer from Fullerton Community College in California. Then, on April 30th, CU took a significant step forward, adding senior West Virginia linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo. Chandler-Semedo has an impressive resume … he played in 44 games at West Virginia, with 31 starts and he was the Mountaineers’ active leader in career tackles with 260. Last season, he was a 13-game starter at middle linebacker, finishing with 110 tackles, including 68 solo stops. He also had 1.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and three pass breakups. He was voted All-Big 12 honorable mention by coaches and was third-team All-Big 12 by Phil Steele.

Comments … Whew! The inside linebacker position just went from a potential liability to a potential strength. There is no immediate solution for replacing all-everything Nate Landman, but the Buffs had to try and make due each of the past two seasons when Landman went down with injuries. Robert Barnes is a quality player, and Quinn Perry has 11 starts to his resume. However, no one is going to say no to having Hurtado and Chandler-Semedo in the locker room. Chandler-Semedo’s resume is impressive, and, if you watch the YouTube videos posted with the story of his commitment, you can see he is a leader. He could be just what the doctor ordered for the CU defense.

— Cornerbacks (8) … Returning starter (bold):

  • Seniors … None
  • Juniors … Nigel Bethel
  • Sophomores … Kaylin Moore … Nikko Reed … Toren Pittman … Mac Willis … Trey Ortega
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Liam McGannon
  • 2022 Signees … Jason Oliver (EE) … Joshua Wiggins (EE) … Simeon Harris …  Keyshon Mills … Braden Keith … Chernet Estes

— Safeties (7) … Returning starter (bold):

  • Seniors … Isaiah Lewis … Anthony Lyle
  • Juniors … Jaylen Striker
  • Sophomores … Tyrin Taylor … Trevor Woods … Jeremy Mack (TR)
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Austin Dahlke … Ben Finneseth … Jordan Woolverton
  • 2022 Signees … Oakie Salave’a (EE) … Dylan Dixon … Xavier Smith

Depth Chart … This just in … CU lost three-quarters of its defensive backfield to the Transfer Portal this off-season. Okay, so you knew that Christian Gonzalez, Mehki Blackmon and Mark Perry left the team for “greener” pastures, turning what would have been one of the best defensive backfields in the Pac-12 into a question mark. Senior safety Isaiah Lewis returns, but, after that, it’s an open competition. Fortunately, cornerback is a position where a younger player can see playing time early on. Nikko Reed could become something special, and Nigel Bethel, when healthy, is a quality player when he is healthy. After those two? Well, fingers crossed. Early enrollees Jason Oliver and Joshua Wiggins received some additional coaching this spring, while Toren Pittman and Kaylin Moore have yet to show that they are prepared to be regular starters.

Comments … It’s been discussed that CU’s remaining Transfer Portal needs were interior offensive line, inside linebacker, and safety. The quality inside linebacker has been found in Josh Chandler-Semedo, while the search for help in the defensive backfield continues. Isaiah Lewis is a solid safety and a leader, but he’s going to need some help. Colorado cornerbacks are going to be picked on until they can prove that they can play at the Power Five level, and the safeties are going to be needed to help protect these young corners. Here’s hoping that there is an experienced addition to the defensive backfield between now and the start of Fall Camp.

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One Reply to “Post-Spring Depth Chart – Defense”

  1. Go Get Marvin Grant.

    Purdue.

    Smart

    Go Buffs

    Note: There are like 15 safeties added to the transfer portal in the last week. Sheesh, flex yur muscle

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