Fall Camp Preview – Quarterbacks and Running Backs

Fall Camp, like everything else about Year One of the Coach Prime era, will be closely watched and closely scrutinized. The consensus from the outside world is the the CU coaching staff will not be able to forge a team out of 70 newcomers. The long-standing belief is that team unity, especially along the lines, is something developed over time, and continuity in the coaching staff and development of players over time is the tried and true path to success.

Colorado has all but none of that. Every coach is new, and every position will have new starters. The vast majority of the team is still finding its way around the Champions Center, much less the CU campus.

A month of practices is all that stands between Coach Prime and a date with TCU in Ft. Worth. A unit-by-unit look at the position battles which will be waged in CU’s very fluid lineup … begins now …

… Fall Camp Preview Schedule … 

  • July 2nd – Quarterbacks and Running Backs
  • July 9th – Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
  • July 16th – Offensive Line
  • July 23rd – Defensive Front Seven
  • July 30th – Defensive Backs and Specialists

The Roster … Quarterbacks

bold = returning starter … italicized = walk-on … *= early enrollee (in school for spring practices) … TR … Transfer …

— Quarterbacks (3):

  • Seniors … none
  • Juniors … Shedeur Sanders (TR) … Gavin Kuld
  • Sophomores … none
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Colton Allen
  • True freshmen … Ryan Staub … Kasen Wiseman …

The Stats … 

  • Shedeur Sanders … At Jackson State … 341 of 483 passing, for 3,732 yards and 40 touchdowns … 70.6% completion rate … six interceptions …
  • Gavin Kuld … At Northeastern Oklahoma A&M … completed eight of 34 passes (23.5%) for 72 yards and four interceptions …

The Upside … 

Shedeur Sanders brings an impressive resume with him to Boulder. With Sanders as the starting quarterback, Jackson State went 23-3, including a perfect 16-0 in SWAC games. The Tigers won two SWAC championships, the first two for the program since 2007. Sanders holds Jackson State season records for passing touchdowns (40) and completions (344), with career totals of 70 passing touchdowns with only 14 interceptions, while adding 157 rushing yards and nine more touchdowns. Last fall, Sanders was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award for the top offensive player in FCS football.

Sanders is a proven leader, and has shown himself to be a leader in the locker room in Boulder. There’s no reason to believe that Sanders won’t be prove himself one of the most talented quarterbacks to take the field for CU in some time.

The Concerns … 

Well, duh.

It’s been the concern since Coach Prime pointed to Shedeur at his introductory press conference and said, “there is your quarterback”.

Five scholarship quarterbacks have since left the program, and have been replaced by … two true freshmen and a journeyman junior college quarterback who had eight completions – and four interceptions – in his limited action in 2022.

Colorado has put all of its eggs into one 6’2″, 215-pound basket.

Steven Montez started every game of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, but Montez has been the exception to the rule. Last season, CU started four different players at the quarterback position.

If Shedeur goes down … we’re looking at a true freshman or a quarterback who played at four different high schools … and three different junior colleges.

It’s safe to say that the health of Shedeur Sanders is the No. 1 priority for those hoping for a successful 2022 season.

Projected starter … Shedeur Sanders

The Roster … Running backs

bold = returning starter … italicized = walk-on … *= early enrollee (in school for spring practices) … TR … Transfer …

— Running backs (5):

  • Seniors … Kavosiey Smoke (TR) …
  • Juniors … Sy’veon Wilkerson (TR)  …
  • Sophomores … Alton McCaskill IV (TR) … Anthony Hankerson* … Charlie Offerdahl … Champion Johnson (TR)
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Dante Capolungo … Christian Sarem
  • True freshmen … Dylan Edwards*

The Stats … 

  • Kavosiey Smoke … At Kentucky … 58 carries for 287 yards and one touchdown … three receptions for 30 yards …
  • Sy’veon Wilkerson … At Jackson State … 226 carries for 1,167 yards and nine touchdowns … 21 receptions for 160 yards and one touchdown …
  • Alton McCaskill … At Houston (2021) … 189 carries for 961 yards and 16 touchdowns … 21 receptions for 113 yards and two touchdowns …
  • Anthony Hankerson … At CU … 68 carries for 274 yards and three touchdowns … five receptions for 24 yards …

The Upside … 

When Dylan Edwards, a four-star recruit Derby, Kansas, became Coach Prime’s first high school commitment after flipping his commitment from Notre Dame, Buff fans got their first taste of what is possible for the future. CU’s 115th-ranked rushing offense had a total of five running backs who had over 100 yards rushing during the 2022 season, but none had over 400 yards. Edwards gave the Buffs hope for the future … and then it just kept getting better. First Kavosiey Smoke transferred, a back with 46 career games and over 1,500 yards rushing in the SEC. Then came Alton McCaskill, who was the American Athletic Association Rookie of the Year, posting almost 1,000 yards rushing for Houston and a nation’s leading (for freshmen) 16 rushing touchdowns. Coach Prime and Co. weren’t done, though, finishing off the lineup with Jackson State’ Sy’veon Wilkerson, who had over 1,000 yards rushing for the Tigers last fall.

Anyone of the four new Buffs could lead the team in rushing. All four bring something a bit different to the table. McCaskill missed all of last season with a torn ACL, but, if healthy, could be a steal for the Buffs. Kavosiey Smoke has played five different seasons at Kentucky, and has one last chance to prove himself a possible candidate for the NFL. Wilkerson played in the backfield with Shedeur Sanders last fall, and has the confidence of Coach Prime.

Oh, and the future starter – and star – may well be Dylan Edwards.

Plenty of options for running backs coach Gary Harrell, who followed Coach Prime from Jackson State.

“We’ll have to find out one guy that’s an all-purpose guy (to lead the group),” Harrell said earlier this spring. “In this offense you’ve got to be smart, you’ve got to think like a quarterback when it comes to protection, when it comes to understanding what we call the box, things of that nature. So you’ve got to know how to think like a quarterback, you’ve got to be well-conditioned because (offensive coordinator Sean Lewis), he dials it up. He goes pretty fast.”

Lewis runs a fast-paced offense, but it’s an offense that depends on a good running game.

“We’re gonna run the football,” Lewis said. “When it comes to our offensive identity, we’ve got to control what we can control. We have to own the line of scrimmage, and we have to maximize our calculated shots. So we need to establish a ground game. Without that, you become too one dimensional and you need to be able to have a punch and counter-punch. We’ve gotta be able to throw it, we’ve gotta be able to run it.”

Can’t wait …

The Concerns … 

All of the new running backs have a strong upside … but none are sure things.

Yes, Kavosiey Smoke played for a Power Five conference program at Kentucky … but he was never the featured back.

Yes, Sy’veon Wilkerson rushed for over 1,000 yards last season … but it was for FCS Jackson State.

Yes, Alton McCaskill was a sensation as a freshman at Houston … but has he recovered from his torn ACL, which cost him all of the 2022 season?

Yes, Dylan Edwards is a four-star prospect … but CU has a history of taking highly ranked running back prospects, and, well, let’s hope that Edwards doesn’t become another Marcus Houston or Darrell Scott.

“We’ll have to find out one guy that’s an all-purpose guy (to lead the group)” is what running backs coach Gary Harrell said. Trying to find that guy will be one of the most talked about issues come Fall Camp this August.

Projected starter … Alton McCaskill …


7 Replies to “Fall Camp Preview – QB’s and RB’s”

    1. As posted under the Colorado Daily heading …

      Fall Camp opens today with players reporting; first practice Wednesday

      From CUBuffs.com … The Colorado Buffaloes open Fall Football Camp on Tuesday, August 1 as the players report and practice begins on Wednesday, August 2.  Practices are closed to the public (no announcement yet on any potential access to practices or scrimmages … even for the media).

      Press interview schedule for this week …

      Wednesday, August 2, 2023

      Interviews: Coach Sean Lewis and Select Players

      Thursday, August 3, 2023

      Podium: Coach Charles Kelly and Select Players

      Friday, August 4, 2023

      Press Conference with Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders and Select Players

  1. I love leaving a guess on the RB starter….IT MAY VARY.

    I like seeing the small, really fast and deceptive backs that can leave 4 – 5 jock straps lying on the field after every run….they’re exciting since they can “BUST ONE” on any carry. The larger backs who may pass-block the best might betray a projected pass…but, WTH….. who cares if he blocks well and the QB is a really accurate passer.


  2. Stuart,

    For back-up QB, do you think CU still has a decent chance to sign someone already in the Portal or a new grad transfer the enters later? Could there be a decent grad transfer enter the portal. There are QB’s still out available in the portal, and don’t they get somewhat desperate, since most of the starting QB positions are already filled.

    I don’t believe CU needs a competitor for Sheheur, rather a guy that somewhat fits, can handle the huddle, and has already taken a bunch of college snaps. It is all for mop up and an injury insurance policy. However, if a decent QB (i.e. a grad transfer) comes here and is the clear backup #2, I think Prime and Company could produce enough great film and/a good recommendation for an NFL look.

    1. We’ve spent a fair amount on time on the podcast talking about CU’s search for a “unicorn” – a quarterback who has experience (preferably at least G5 experience) who is willing to sit behind Shedeur for a year or two … and I don’t know if he is out there. To find a quarterback with actual experience, you are likely looking for an upperclassman, and upperclassmen who feel they can play at the Power Five level won’t want to sit behind Shedeur. A quarterback who would be willing to wait for the opportunity to play probably doesn’t have the experience CU would want to have in a backup.
      Seems like they have been looking for their unicorn since December … and haven’t found one. CU might just have to go with Shedeur and the freshmen … fingers crossed.

      1. Stuart, thanks for the Reply. Would love that Unicorn or to get a Leprechaun following the rainbow the to Pot of Gold (aka… CU Buffs)

  3. It really comes down to the O-line, can they protect, pull & push enough so that Shedeur can run the offense while staying healthy? If that happens the Buffs should not only be able to run the ball, they should be able to go fast and wear down their opponents. All of the RBs are talented enough to have a 1,000 plus yards season in Lewis’ offense, if the blocking is there.

    Get a couple of those RBs going in a game and the pressure to stop the run along with the speed of the receivers and Shedeur, at a 70% completion rate, will have defenses out of breath and on their heels; that will be a beautiful thing to watch. Lewis’ offense is so fast, whether the ball is carried or thrown, the O-line only has to push or pull for a few seconds, before the ball is down field. Can O’Boyle get enough explosiveness out of the line that they can win for a few seconds?

    I really want to see more from the backup QBs during the fall camp scrimmage and any chance for mop up duty. I know the schedule doesn’t have any patsies on it that would pretty much guaranty some mop up duty for a backup QB so we’ll see. Let’s hope that Lewis’ offense allows a backup QB to successfully hand off the ball enough that they have time to pass when needed.

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