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Post-Spring Depth Chart – Offense

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 …

— Quarterbacks (6) … Returning starter (bold); walk-on (italics):

  • Seniors … none
  • Juniors … J.T. Shrout … Zach Yanda 
  • Sophomores … Brendon Lewis … Drew Carter … James Mott
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Maddox Kopp (TR) … George Juarez
  • 2022 Signees … Owen McCown

Depth Chart … With J.T. Shrout limited to seven-on-seven work this spring, the consensus seems to be that the job of starting quarterback is Brendon Lewis’ to lose. That being said, with Lewis and other quarterbacks not being hit during scrimmages or during the Spring Showcase, an argument can be made that Shrout did not miss out on too much in terms of trying to make his case to be the starter. The battle will certainly continue on into Fall Camp.

Comments … While the players I have interviewed for the CU at the Game NIL Project have not disclosed any inside information, I do find it interesting that, in any comments about the quarterbacks, only “B-Lew” is mentioned. Again, since Shrout was limited this spring, it may have just been an acknowledgement that Lewis was getting the snaps in practice, but it does seem telling that there were no qualifications in any of the comments by the interviewees – Lewis was referenced as the starter.

As to the backups, you would have to assume that University of Houston transfer Maddox Kopp would be the best of the rest. Drew Carter did not show much last season, and was unimpressive in the scrimmage and Spring Showcase. Also worthy of note is the lack of mention of early enrollee Oakie Salave’a. When Salave’a signed on as a member of the Recruiting Class of 2022, there was talk of him getting a fair shot at quarterback. Whether it’s because of the increased depth in the quarterbacks room, or the lack of depth at safety, it seems likely that Salave’a is now locked in as a member of the defensive backfield.

— Running Backs (5) … Returning starter (bold); walk-on (italics):

  • Seniors … Alex Fontenot … Ramon Jefferson (TR)
  • Juniors … Deion Smith
  • Sophomores … Jayle Stacks … Noah Wagner 
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Charlie Offerdahl 
  • 2022 Signees … Victor Venn … Anthony Hankerson (may grey-shirt)

Depth Chart … There was little separation found this spring. Alex Fontenot, CU’s leading rusher in 2019, was limited, and did not participate in the Spring Showcase. Deion Smith and Jayle Stacks received praise from the coaches for their efforts this spring, but no clear leader for the starting job emerged. A contender for the starting position, transfer Ramon Jefferson, who rushed 173 times for 1,155 yards and 13 touchdowns last season for Sam Houston State, will not be on campus until this summer. Picking a starter after spring practices is impossible, as this battle will continue on well into Fall Camp.

Comments … The hero of the Spring Showcase was red-shirt freshman walk-on Charlie Offerdahl, with touchdowns both rushing and receiving. This is likely the last we will hear from Mr. Offerdahl until next spring, however, unless he makes a play on special teams. There is plenty of talent in the running backs room, but no clear standout for starter. Class of 2022 recruit Victor Venn will join the fray this summer, with highly-recruited Anthony Hankerson waiting in the wings should the need emerge for yet another back to compete for playing time. The present plan would be for Hankerson to grey-shirt, enrolling in January to take the scholarship of one-and-done transfer Ramon Jefferson.

— Wide Receivers (10) … Returning starter (bold); walk-on (italics):

  • Seniors … Daniel Arias … Maurice Bell … Jaylon Jackson … RJ Sneed (TR)
  • Juniors … none
  • Sophomores … Montana Lemonious-Craig … Chase Penry … Ty Robinson … Michael Harrison
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Jack Hestera
  • 2022 Signees … Grant Page (EE) … Chase Sowell … Jordan Tyson

— Tight Ends (6) … Returning starter (bold); walk-on (italics):

  • Seniors … Brady Russell
  • Juniors … none
  • Sophomores … none
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Caleb Fauria … Erik Olsen … Louis Passarello … Austin Smith
  • 2022 Signees … Zach Courtney

Depth Chart … Three names were consistently named as potential starters at wide receiver for the fall – Daniel Arias, Montana Lemonious-Craig, and Baylor transfer RJ Sneed. As is the case with graduate transfer running back Ramon Jefferson, Sneed, who was Baylor’s second-leading receiver last season (46 receptions for 573 yards and two touchdowns in 2021; 133 receptions for 1,564 yards and eight touchdowns in his career at Baylor), isn’t donning the black-and-gold to sit on the sidelines. Daniel Arias started 11 games last season, and should be penciled in as a starter again for the 2022 season.

After that, it gets a little murkier. Montana Lemonious-Craig has received positive reviews, and Chase Penry made some plays last season, earning three starts. Seniors Maurice Bell and Jaylon Jackson still have work to do in order to receive consistent playing time.

At tight end, there is little debate over who will be the starter in the opener against TCU. Senior Brady Russell has 28 career starts, and started every game last season. After Russell, however, there are no other upperclassmen, just red-shirt freshmen. Which of the four will step forward as Russell’s heir apparent will be a battle to continue on into the fall.

Comments … When they transferred, Brenden Rice, Dimitri Stanley and La’Vontae Shenault not only took with them 58 games of game experience (including 39 starts), they took with them the lion’s share of name recognition among the receiver corps, with each having famous relatives well known to the Buff Nation. What they left behind is a talented, but still largely untested, group of players. Arias is a consistent performer, but is not likely to make any preseason All-Pac-12 teams. Sneed could be a welcome addition, and he had moments in the Spring Showcase indicating he could be a featured performer this fall. After that? … It’s largely potential, rather than realized results.

As to the tight ends … same song, different year. Buff fans have heard almost every spring about how the tight end position will be utilized as a weapon in the offense, only to seem them disappear in the fall. True enough, Brady Russell did lead the team in receptions last year, but that was for an offense which was 129th in the nation in total offense, so it’s all relative. Clay Patterson is the new tight ends coach, and he is also the passing game coordinator, so there is a chance – a chance – that Brady Russell and his band of red-shirt freshmen could be a weapon in the Mike Sanford offense this fall.

— Offensive Line (14) … Returning starter (bold); walk-on (italics):

  • Seniors …
  • Juniors … Frank Fillip … Casey Roddick … Tommy Brown (TR)
  • Sophomores … Jake Wiley … Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan … Austin Johnson … Noah Fenske … Alex Harkey (TR) … Jack Seavall 
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Edgar Amaya … Jackson Anderson … Luke Eckardt (TR) … Camden Dempsey … Ben Reznik 
  • 2022 Signees … Carter Edwards … Travis Gray … Van Wells

Depth Chart … CU returns both starting tackles, with Frank Fillip at right tackle and Jake Wiley at left tackle. Casey Roddick, who had ten starts at right guard, also returns. Between the three, they had 31 of a possible 36 starts last fall, so, barring significant disruption in the lineup, these three are your likely Game One starters. Buff fans will probably also be penciling in Alabama transfer Tommy Brown at left guard, and Noah Fenske at center.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s fairly easy to predict the starters … because there is little depth behind them. Offensive line coach Kyle DeVan has to hope that both of the transfers, Alex Harkey and Luke Eckhardt, come to Boulder this summer ready to compete. Austin Johnson is highly regarded, and could figure in at either center or guard, but Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan was injured this spring (CU only had six healthy scholarship offensive lineman for the Spring Showcase), and, other than that … you’re talking red-shirt freshmen.

Comments … It was not a surprise that CU coaches used the Transfer Portal to add offensive linemen this off-season. What was a surprise was that, of the three new faces added by transfer this offseason, only Tommy Brown was an upperclassmen. Alex Harkey comes to Boulder having played one season at Tyler Junior College in Texas, while new Buff Luke Eckhardt sat out his freshman redshirt season at Arizona.

There are few options left for the Buff coaches when it comes to additions via the Transfer Portal this spring, but one of the remaining slots almost has to be an experienced offensive lineman, one who can be plugged right into the starting lineup. Short of that, there will be concerns about the offensive line all summer … and well into the fall.

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

  1. I am just hoping and thinking and wishing and praying that whatever talent and attitude the players really have, the “new” offensive coaching team can provide them with the tools to excel and bring the talent out of them in Spades (Bridge joke), and get the 6th win and smack down those frigging know-it-alls who “can’t see 6 wins”

    Go Buffs

    Note: Yup Tough schedule this year. 6 home games win em all dang nab it

    Note 2: And 2023???? Both CSU and KNebraska in town…..Nice

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