Quentin Hildreth joined the Colorado program as a walk-on from Denver East High School a year ago. He redshirted last fall and spent the season learning the ropes, working on his strength and getting accustomed to college life in the classroom.
Now he's ready to earn some playing time, and he seems to be off to a good start this spring.
"I've got to learn the playbook," Hildreth said. "I've got a lot of learning to do, but if I become that blocking back that we're kind of looking for right now, then I'll be on the field. ...Coach told me that if I want to get on the field, I need to learn how to block. So that's what I'm focused on right now."
For the record, when Hildreth says "blocking back," he's talking about pass blocking and not the traditional fullback many think of in connection with the blocking back terminology.
He said learning who to block in pass protection in dozens of different formations and play calls is the most difficult part of making the transition from high school to college, but he believes he is slowly making progress.
Finding a pass-blocking running back is a priority for coaches with the unexpected transfer of former back Demetrius Sumler.
"I pretty much have it down, but I'm not going to say I have it all the way down," Hildreth said.
Hildreth is cut from the same mold physically as Stewart and Lockridge. He is 5-foot-8, 180 pounds but is quick enough to make the first tackler miss. He said his redshirt season served him well because it allowed him to get accustomed the college game, having more responsibility and a chance to learn.
"Now I'm taking my time on a lot of things," he said. "I've learned a lot. I'm more calm on the field and I'm a lot smarter player. It's not spinning. Everything was just so much going on and so fast, but now it's slowed down."
Hildreth is well aware that this spring is an important time for him because the program will be welcoming four freshmen running back recruits in the fall, all of whom are scholarship athletes. Their heads will probably be swimming at first like his was, but his window of opportunity might not be open this wide for long.
"I feel like you need shine all the time," he said. "I don't feel like there is a specific time when you need to make a name for yourself. When you first come in is when you need to make a name for yourself and that's what I've been trying to do."
Hildreth said he will be more than happy to help the freshmen learn when they arrive. He said he knows they will be his competition, but he has his sights set on catching up with Stewart and Lockridge, more than he is looking over his shoulder.