Improving performance in the trenches is an area of emphasis at Colorado spring football practices, but coach defensive line coach Jim Jeffcoat won't have three of his best players available.
Coach Mike MacIntyre said after the first practice Friday that defensive linemen Justin Solis and Samson Kafovalu will not participate in spring practice at all this year because both must focus on improving academically.
"They're going to not be out here at spring practice to make sure they stay on top of their academics and do what they're supposed to do," MacIntyre said. "... If you don't do what you're supposed to, we're going to make sure you do what your supposed to do."
MacIntyre also said that sophomore defensive end Jimmie Gilbert will be held out of spring ball as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery.
Solis was the leading tackler last season among defensive linemen returning in 2014. He played in all 12 games last fall and finished with 39 tackles, including one sack and seven total tackles for loss. Kafovalu played in just seven games but recorded 18 tackles, including three sacks and seven tackles for loss.
MacIntyre said both players are reporting to the weight room early in the morning to lift before classes. He said Solis is losing weight and getting into better shape for his junior season.
"They've been doing a great job this semester on it," he said. "They've just got to finish the semester out well."
MacIntyre said he designs spring practices each year to have only three practices per week in order to allow his players to continue lifting in the weight program continuously from January to mid-May when they get three weeks off.
"Dave Forman and all of our strength coaches have done a really good job with the young men," MacIntyre said. "I think we're stronger and bigger in the lower body. We look like we're in a lot better shape."
CU has added eight new walk-ons to the program this spring. They are defensive back Gavin Andrews, tight end Brian Boatman, linebacker/safety John Genova, wide receiver Devyn Grimes, wide receiver Joseph Hall, defensive end Aaron Howard and quarterback Trent Sessions,
Andrews, Genova, Grimes and Howard are transfers from junior colleges or other small colleges.
The Buffs will practice "one more day in pajamas" (helmets, shorts and jerseys) as MacIntyre said. That comes Monday (8:30-11 a.m.) before donning full pads on Wednesday. ... MacIntyre said the team did its Perfect 10 runs after practice better than it had ever done them previously. ... MacIntyre ruled out defensive end Jimmie Gilbert (shoulder) and fullback George Frazier (knee) from returning to practice this spring. Both are recovering from surgery. ... Running back Josh Ford continues to await word on his petition for a sixth season of eligibility from the NCAA.