His teammates call him "Two Face." Turns out, Colorado offensive lineman David Bakhtiari isn't the same easy-going, fun-loving jokester on the field that he is off of it.
Bakhtiari has developed a reputation for hard-nosed physical play in his first two years of significant playing time. It earned him a nod of appreciation from Pac-12 Conference coaches last season when they selected him to the second team all-conference team at left tackle as just a sophomore on a 3-10 team.
Coach Jon Embree recently referred to Bakhtiari as "mean" when describing his playing style. That is not to suggest that Bakhtiari is a dirty player. It speaks to his intensity.
"I think I'm a nice guy," Bakhtiari said with a wry smile. "...On the field, I'm a little more of a different character. I guess that's where (Embree) gets his mean from. I guess the film kind of shows me not being the nicest player out there.
"I don't consider myself a dirty player, but I consider myself a player who definitely will play to the whistle on every play. I'm the type of guy when I'm on the field, I really don't care who is in front of me. I'm going to do what I do to the best of my ability until I hear the whistle and if I happen to not hear the whistle, that's not my fault entirely."
Bakhtiari was among the 105 players who reported Sunday for the start of fall camp Monday in Boulder. The Buffs will have a walk-through in the morning before kicking off camp with a late afternoon practice in shorts and helmets. The schedule remains the same for much of the first week. The Buffs won't be in pads until Friday.
It's safe to say Bakhtiari, a junior from Burlingame, Calif., is one of the most important players on a young roster as the Buffs begin their second-year under Embree and his staff. Bakhtiari will be leaned on heavily as the Buffs try to produce a more effective and efficient offense with a new quarterback and a slew of inexperienced players at the skill positions.
Who that quarterback is and who fills the holes at the other skill positions are among the biggest questions coaches must answer in the next month through 29 practices leading up to the season opener against Colorado State on Sept. 1 in Denver.
Bakhtiari is the anchor of an offensive line that is easily the most experienced part of the offense. Barring a shakeup in the depth chart from competition during camp or injuries, Bakhtiari will team with guards Daniel Munyer and Alexander Lewis, center Gus Handler and right tackle Jack Harris as perhaps the most pivotal part of the team, particularly early in the season.
Bakhtiari doesn't necessarily see it that way. After spending the summer watching freshmen teammates in the weight room and player-run practices, he believes some are underestimating the Buffs by placing too much emphasis on the fact the team will be among the least experienced in the nation.
"I've got faith in some of these guys coming in," Bakhtiari said. "Yeah, everyone talks about a lack of experience, but experience doesn't conquer over talent. If you can ball, you can ball. I've seen some of these kids, some of these guys who are going to step into these new roles, and a lot of them can ball. I'm excited to watch that.
"With the offensive line, I know that no matter what, cause we're all real close, we're going to come out and play hard, play fast and play efficient."
Embree is happy to have a guy like Bakhtiari taking a leadership role among the offensive linemen and with the rest of his teammates as well.
"I'm excited for him," Embree said. "I think he has a chance to be an All-Pac-12 player for us."
Embree said while Bakhtiari does not have the prototypical height of a left tackle at 6-foot-5, he has good length, which allows him to be effective at the position. Embree said Bakhtiari's best asset is his drive to win and succeed.
Some of that comes from watching his older brother succeed in the sport. Eric Bakhtiari is a defensive lineman with the Tennessee Titans.
"I see myself as a guy who loves the game, loves the team he plays with and a guy who is willing to do anything and everything he needs to do to ensure we win," Bakhtiari said.
Bakhtiari's play so far in his career not only earned him respect from Pac-12 Conference coaches, it served as a spring board to the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy preseason watch lists in 2012. Bakhtiari said when people informed him during the summer that he had earned spots on those lists, he couldn't believe it.
"Are you sure?" Bakhtiari said was his response. "I was very honored to be put up next to some of those guys for those awards."
Bakhtiari said he has given very little thought to the possibility of turning pro after his junior season. He said the only time it has really crossed his mind is when reporters or others have asked him about it. He said it's a decision he won't make until after the 2012 season is complete and he said much of the decision revolves around how his season goes. If he doesn't play up to expectations, turning pro might not be a realistic option.
"I have no idea," Bakhtiari said. "It may be this. It may be that."
CU announced that two more members of the 2012 recruiting class will grayshirt this fall and enroll in classes in January. Peyton Williams, a wide receiver from Texas, will grayshirt because he is still recovering from a December knee injury. Kisima Jagne, a defensive lineman from Chandler, Arizona, will grayshirt while he attempts to improve his academic qualifications. That means four members of the 2012 class will grayshirt this fall. ... CU announced seven recruited walk-ons have joined the program for camp. They are Vincent Arvia (OL, 6-0, 285, San Diego/Torrey Pines High School); David Bagby (WR, 6-1, 180, San Diego/Torrey Pines); Trevor Carver (SN, 5-11, 180, Louisville/Monarch); Luke Hartung (OL, 6-6, 230, Danville, Calif./DeLaSalle); Jesse Hiss (FB, 6-1, 225, Bonner Springs, Kan./Bashor-Linwood); Harrison Hunt (WR, 6-0, 180, Cleveland Heights, Ohio/Gilmour Academy); and Jordan Murphy (FB, 6-1, 230, Soph., Castle Rock/Denver Lutheran).