Bryce Givens didn't know what to call it.
A vow? A promise? A guarantee?
Colorado's talented but unpredictable sophomore offensive lineman discussed his spotty first two years in the program after two practices Wednesday. He didn't go into great detail about the personal battles he has fought, some of which have kept him off the field at times, but he did take responsibility for a lack of focus and maturity at times early in his career.
When the possibility of losing his starting job this season came up near the end of the interview, Givens praised teammate David Bakhtiari, with whom he is competing at right tackle, and then flashed a confident grin.
"I'll be on the field," Givens said.
He was asked if he was making a promise. After all, he has been working with the second team through much of camp and is also battling a lingering ankle sprain.
"Take it as it is, you know what I'm saying? I'll be out there," he said.
Givens said he learned a lot from his redshirt freshman season in 2009 in which he played in two games, missed one, played in two more, missed three and then played in the final four contests of the year. He led the Buffs offensive linemen in penalties with 13, including perhaps the most memorable moment his first season of action at the college level.
It came in the second half of a Nov. 14 game at Iowa State when the Buffs drove to the Cyclones' 9-yard line. Givens was called for a personal foul and then drew a second flag on the same play for unsportsmanlike conduct when he vehemently argued the call. It turned a first-and-goal at the 9 into a first-and-goal at the 39. CU lost the game by a touchdown.
"One of the biggest things I learned I'd say is consistency," Givens said. "Some weeks last year I was kind of in a tough spot where I was at in my personal life and this offseason I came to learn that you need to be consistent to be the best."
Givens said this about his on-again-off-again struggle to contribute in 2009.
"It was just a whole mixture of things that just kind of happened at once," he said. "Nothing really tough, just kind of growing up I guess. Maturing and figuring out who Bryce Givens is. I just recently turned 21 and people have been asking if I feel any different. This is kind of the first birthday that I do. I feel more mature. I need to start acting my age and acting like a grown man."
Givens also missed much of spring ball in March and April, which led to Bakhtiari getting more reps, gaining confidence and ultimately ending up atop the depth chart to start fall camp. Bakhtiari has never played in a game at the college level, but he is holding on to the starting job thus far.
But there is reason to believe Givens might be able to win it back, if not before the season opener Sept. 4 in Denver against Colorado State, then perhaps a week or two later when his ankle is back in order.
Coach Dan Hawkins and offensive line coach Denver Johnson have both praised Givens for improvement on and off the field.
"Sometimes it's easy to go, 'Well geez, I was the starter last year. How come I'm not the starter this year?'" Hawkins said. "He hasn't done that. He's just come out and competed and that's great."
Givens' best move in the offseason as he went about getting his ducks in a row might have been his choice in roommates. He recently moved in with All-Big 12 left tackle Nate Solder, a likely pick to be a team captain this fall.
"I've just been observing what he does and how he does his every-day routines," Givens said. "He's at the top of his game and he's an All-American. Good guy to learn from you know?"
Givens has the metabolism most 40-year-old men would kill for, but the kind that poses problems for a 21-year-old offensive linemen wanting to reach the 300-pound mark. He began camp weighing around 280 pounds and expects to play this season at 275 pounds.
He is on a mission to gain weight and is following a diet designed for him by the CU strength and conditioning staff. He consumes between 5,200 and 5,800 calories a day, hoping to gain a few pounds a week and put on good weight over time.
His experience last season tells him he can hold his own on the field despite not carrying the weight most linemen at the Big 12 Conference level need.
Givens said he has made a lot of progress in the offseason improving his overall understanding of the game and the CU offense, which should help him be more effective if he does find a way to get on the field.
"I feel like this year I'm so much more sound in the mental part of the game," Givens said. "I'm starting to get my reads a lot better, reading the short side of the field and corners and safety rolls and just helping out our entire protection. It has been showing on the film."