Some of the players are still in summer school, which ends Friday. That means team meetings were held at 7 a.m. Thursday, and practice went from 6 until roughly 8:15 p.m., ending under lights at the practice fields. And after one of the hottest Julys on record in Boulder, the team was met with rain and temperatures in the 60s.
The team practice drills without pads, and with limited contact.
“It was nice football weather,” Barnett quipped. “Everyone’s glad to be back out here. There’s a lot of enthusiasm. It’s early, but you can already see some competition shaping up where you might expect it to shape up. It’s going to be interesting to unfold as camp continues.”
Barnett pointed to safety, running back, receiver and linebackers as the most competitive spots. Thursday, Ryan Walters and Tom Hubbard looked like they were running with the first team. Dominique Brooks, Tyrone Henderson and J.J. Billingsley, back on the team after an academic suspension, will try and fight their way up the depth chart there.
Asked if the tailback spot was Hugh Charles’ to lose, Barnett said he expects fellow sophomore Byron Ellis to push Charles for starting duties in August.
The Buffs are loaded at linebacker, and Akarika Dawn and Jordon Dizon will vie for a starting position alongside Thaddaeus Washington at inside linebacker.
Several receivers look to be in the mix for significant playing time, including Evan Judge, Dusty Sprague, Alvin Barnett, Blake Mackey, Patrick Williams and Reggie Joseph. It’s way too early to tell who will emerge from that bunch as a starting duo. But at least four, and possibly more, will get lots of playing time in CU’s offense this fall.
Need to get Moyd ready
With Brandon Caesar out for the season with a knee injury, true freshman Kevin Moyd will need to play in 2005, as sophomores Hugh Charles and Byron Ellis are currently the only two ahead of the rookie from Miami on the depth chart.
“We’ve just got to get him ready mentally and physically,” running backs coach Shawn Simms said. “He’s looking like he’ll be the third guy, so he’s got to be ready to go.”
Reggie Foster has been moved from safety to tailback to add depth at the position. Two walk-on tailbacks are also on the squad — Maurice Little, a 5-8, 220-pound back from Santa Monica College, and Mell Holliday, a 5-8, 205-pounder, who played at Wayne State, and was on Nebraska’s roster last season.
LV at 230
Though he worked at V-back/Fullback Thursday, there is still talk of senior Lawrence Vickers getting time at tailback if the need arises due to depth and experience concerns. Vickers is at 230 pounds, down about 10 from his playing weight last season, and you can see it in his improved quickness.
Ten invited walk-ons in the mix
Including Little and Holliday, 10 new walk ons were practicing with the team Thursday. They include Joel Adams, DB, 5-11, 185, Steamboat Springs (former scholarship skier); Matt Garratt, FB, 5-11, 209, Danville, Calif.; Tom Grubin, C, 6-0, 290, Woodlands, Texas; Tim Lemon, WR, 6-0, 205, La Mirada, Calif; Colter Reisbeck, OL, 6-3, 275, Arvada, Colo.; Devin Shanahan, TE, 6-5, 195, Highlands Ranch, Colo.; Jeff Smart, ILB, 6-0, 210, Boulder; and Bryan Stengel, ILB, 6-2, 205, Durango, Colo.
14 O-linemen in the fold
After Garrett Collins left the team this summer, concern arose that CU was going into August camp with just nine offensive linemen who had practiced with the team before, and only five with more than 25 snaps of experience.
Barnett said he thinks the team has “seven or eight” players they can count on in the offensive trenches this fall. He said that’s a workable number, and the position is not his biggest concern.
With the two walk ons, plus true freshmen scholarship players Paul Backowski, Devin Head and Jeremy Hauck, CU was practicing with 14 offensive linemen Thursday. Backowski was running with the No. 2 team behind tackle Tyler Polumbus, but that was a numbers issue, as either Gary Moore or Edwin Harrison would back up Polumbus at this point. Harrison, who missed spring with a shoulder injury, was wearing a blue jersey, meaning he wasn’t in full contact drills.
Also in blue jerseys were tight ends Tyson DeVree and Riar Geer. Geer is wearing a protective cast on his wrist, but was moving well.
The HYPE (believe it or not)
The squad looked really crisp for a first day of practice. The weather, drizzling rain for the first half of practice, wasn't an issue.
Quarterbacks looked sharp. It’ll be a daily battle to shake a No. 2 out of James Cox, Bernard Jackson and Brian White.
Hugh Charles is just really fast. He scoots along. Despite what coaches may say publically, it's my opinion that the starting tailback job IS his to lose.If the offensive line can create some space for him, he could be fun to watch. Moyd is smaller than I expected. But he’s got good speed and quickness. A fluid runner, kind of glides. They weren’t in pads and no real contact, so I can’t yet get a feel what he’s like at full speed.
They should be OK at running back if Charles stays healthy and Byron Ellis continues to develop, now that they’ve got some bodies on the depth chart. Foster and the two walk ons look like they belong on a football field.
Of the receivers, Blake Mackey looked really good physically. Coming out of his turns well. Looks explosive, and I didn’t notice any drops. Dusty Sprague looked good as well.
Lemon has good size and physicality. He moves well, but it’s obvious he hasn’t done football drills in a long time. He’s rusty.
Geer is a little beefier than I expected.
Maurice Lucas is an impressive presence. Big and rangy. George Hypolite is at DT right now, and I think that’s where he’ll stay. Taj Kaynor is a big dude, and could grow into an offensive tackle. Who knows?
It’s obvious their focus is on CSU. At the end of practice they always end with a chant, “Black, Gold, BlackGold!” Tonight they added “Beat the Rams!” on the end.