It has been less than a year since Nick Kasa made the switch to tight end.

The Colorado senior is hoping he's got what it takes to make an impact for the Buffaloes this season, however.

"I feel I'm doing pretty darn well," said Kasa, who converted to tight end in October. "I just feel a lot more comfortable with everything, with the playbook, and that's a lot of it. I'm getting used to running routes. I ran a ton over the summer."

Tight end is one of CU's least experienced positions. Despite just three games at the position, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Kasa is the only tight end on the team with a college catch. He made one catch for 8 yards in the season finale at Utah last year.

University of Colorado’s Nick Kasa, No. 44, watches his teammates run a play during football practice on Monday.
University of Colorado's Nick Kasa, No. 44, watches his teammates run a play during football practice on Monday. ( JEREMY PAPASSO )

"I think we got a lot of work done this spring, but it's apparent he did a lot this summer," said J.D. Brookhart, who coaches the tight ends. "I see a guy with a way different comfort level. Is he there yet? Not by any means. He's got a long way to go in a lot of areas, but he's getting there. He's going to get that game experience. It'll take some time, but Nick's got a chance to be a good player."

So do a lot of other guys on the roster. In fact, CU's freshman class includes three tight ends -- Vincent Hobbs, Sean Irwin and Austin Ray.

Although it's early, Hobbs appears to be ahead of the others.

"Vincent is an ex-basketball guy who his still learning football; it's all new to him," Brookhart said. "Athletically he's a pretty good player. Vincent is pretty athletic and because of basketball he catches the ball well.

"It's so early to say (who leads); you're going to see things go up and back the whole time."

Brookhart said that Ray has good hands and "is a very, very smart guy that's going to be a big kid."

Of Irwin, he said, "We'd love to redshirt him and get him bigger and all that stuff because he's a football player."

Brookhart also added that two other veterans -- junior Scott Fernandez and sophomore Kyle Slavin -- can't be forgotten, either. He praised the improvements both have made.

It's no secret that CU head coach Jon Embree, a former Colorado and NFL tight end, likes to utilize the position. That gives Kasa hope that, even if the others are impressive, that he can make an impact this season.

"That's got to be my mentality right now, I'm a senior," he said. "I'm really excited about it. I really love playing tight end, so I'm going to do everything I can to do as well as I can this season."

Bonsu aims to please

Junior Nate Bonsu is hoping to make a good impression on CU coaches and so far he's doing that.

"Nate's doing a great job," Embree said. "He's a guy that is going into his fourth year and is eligible to graduate. I told him if he can't be a guy that's a major contributor for us, this is going to be it for him. He didn't bat an eye."

Bonsu, a 6-foot-1, 280-pound defensive tackle, missed the 2010 season with a knee injury. After a thigh injury limited him during spring ball in 2011, he played in seven games last season. However, he injured a shoulder and had postseason surgery and did not play in the spring this year.

About 30 pounds lighter, Bonsu came into fall camp ready to roll.

"He's got the shoulder stronger, he's doing a great job of showing up," Embree said. "He's getting more comfortable. You can tell it's important to him and that he wants to be a part of what we're trying to do. It's good to have him. We need him. We have some young kids obviously that are doing some good things, too, and he's raised his game to match it. I think that says a lot about him as a competitor and how important it is for him to be a Buff."

Defense steps up

The Buffs are not in pads yet, but Embree said the defense had a good day on Tuesday.

"The defense forced some turnovers and we were able to not only force them but scoop and score with it, so that was good," he said. "Obviously that's bad coming from the offensive standpoint, but I like what our defense is doing. I like the way they're playing with the tempo and energy. The young guys keep showing up, so that's always a positive.

The Buffs are scheduled to put pads on for the first time in Friday.

"We'll see once you can be hit, but so far it's been pretty good," Embree said.

Notable

Freshman receiver Jeffrey Thomas injured his hamstring on Monday. Embree said the Buffs are trying to be careful with Thomas so the injury doesn't become worse. He said Thomas might be back to practice on Friday. ... Embree has disciplined the eight players involved in Friday's air soft gun incident in Boulder. Receiver DeVaughn Thornton and Thomas have both been suspended for the first two games, while freshman linebacker Jermane Clark is no longer with the team. Several reasons contributed to Clark's dismissal, however. In addition, all the involved players will be doing extra conditioning after practice throughout camp. ... Freshman defensive lineman Samson Kafovalu suffered the only reported injury on Tuesday. "I think (he) sprained his ankle," Embree said.

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