Thomas Perez, the 6-1, 220-pound sophomore back, has been chomping at the bit to put on the pads and play since Monday. He’s been at most every practice in street clothes, hanging close to the running backs in drills and hanging on every word from running backs coach Darian Hagan. He’s just about always had a football tucked under his arm, but his No. 31 Colorado jersey has remained on the rack while he’s waited for a grade from one final class at Compton to be posted and faxed.
Perez received the fax Wednesday afternoon. However, he’s not quite in the end zone yet, according to head coach Dan Hawkins.
“We’re inches, we’re on the goal line,” Hawkins said after practice. “We feel confident we’re going to punch it in.”
Perez said afterwards that the only thing missing now is a copy of his associates degree from Compton, which should be forthcoming. Both Hawkins and Perez were “hopeful” he could be on the field Thursday.
Perez certainly looks the part of a bruising Big 12 back. When he gets into the mix, he’ll be battling with a group of tailbacks vying for carries after Hugh Charles, including senior Mell Holliday, junior Byron Ellis and freshman Demetrius Sumler.
Asked what Perez would bring to the fold, Hawkins said: “Look at the dude. He’ll bring a little oomph to it. I said when I watched him on tape that he’s an angry runner. He’s a violent runner. We need that. That’s a good thing.
“The other side of it is, I hope his hamstrings (stay healthy) and all that. We’ve got to get him in shape.”
• Bernard Jackson was not allowed to practice Tuesday as a disciplinary measure for an academic issue. Hawkins indicated Wednesday it wouldn’t hurt the junior in the tight, three-way race for the starting quarterback job. But you’ve got to think in this situation that any practice a QB misses becomes an opportunity missed, and an opportunity gained for the competitors.
As for Wednesday’s competition, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mark Helfrich said: “Different guys made different mistakes today. As a group, everybody’s improving, so that’s positive. But we’re just not nearly consistent enough yet to really (identify a first, second and third-teamer).”
Helfrich echoed what Hawkins said earlier in the week. Namely, that they won’t hesitate to name a starter as soon as they feel one has emerged. While the team’s first scrimmage of the camp is slated for Sunday evening, Helfrich said he isn’t necessarily waiting to see how Jackson, senior James Cox and junior Brian White perform then to make a decision.
“If it becomes clearer tomorrow or the next day, then we’ll start to play more toward those percentages,” Helfrich said.
• Vance Washington, who was also disciplined Tuesday for an academic issue, was also back at practice Wednesday, and spent much of it running laps.
• It was the first day in shells (shoulder pads and helmets) and the intensity rose considerably. There were a lot more physical one-on-one drills.