Safety Jered Bell, right, is the Buffs’ veteran leader at the position despite switching just a year ago.
Safety Jered Bell, right, is the Buffs' veteran leader at the position despite switching just a year ago. (Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera)

A year ago, safety was a new position for Jered Bell.

Today, most of Colorado's safeties are looking to Bell for leadership.

The senior figures to be a key figure this season, as the Buffaloes try to improve defensively and, in particular, in the secondary.

"Jered's been one of our best defensive back leaders — as a matter of fact one of our top defensive leaders," sophomore Tedric Thompson said. "Jered is another coach on the field. Jered strives to have all the DBs communicate. He's been a great leader back there."

As the Buffs do look to improve their defense, they hope to get better play out of not only Bell, but all the safeties.

Last season, Bell and senior Parker Orms led the way in the back. Now, with Orms gone, the Buffs could be leaning on a group of youngsters to play key roles.

A fifth-year senior, Bell figures to have one safety spot locked up. But the competition around him includes Thompson, redshirt freshman Ryan Moeller, true junior Marques Mosley and fifth-year senior Terrel Smith, who missed last season with a shoulder injury. Incoming freshman Evan White, from Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, could be in the mix when he arrives, too.

"I love the group," Bell said. "They're really competing out there.

"It's going to be sad missing Parker; he's my man, but we have some young guys who are ready to step up and fill his void. I'm feeling comfortable about that, whoever is next to me."

Smith has most the most experience, having produced 166 tackles in 29 career games. He elected to have shoulder surgery last fall and redshirt. Safeties coach Charles Clark said Smith is cleared to play 100 percent, but that the team limits his reps in practice right now.

That has left Thompson often lining up next to Bell and the rest of the starters on defense. He played in nine games last year as a true freshman, making 32 tackles and Clark said it's obvious that Thompson "has learned a lot from last year."

Thompson said he has enjoyed the battle for playing time this spring.

"We're all friends, and the best thing about this spring is how great the DBs are competing," he said.

That's exactly what Clark wants out of this group and to this point, he's liking what he's seeing.

"They're getting better," Clark said. "One thing we're doing better is tackling, which you have to do at the safety spot. Just the effort and the camaraderie in that room is really good right now."

Catch of the day

The Buffs had a new "weapon" at receiver on Wednesday. And, the 5-foot-8 veteran made a nice impression, too, beating CU's best cornerback, Greg Henderson, to make a catch.

Unfortunately for the Buffs, Troy Walters exhausted his eligibility long ago. The CU receivers coach did, however, put the pads on Wednesday during practice.

"Troy Walters wanted to show the receivers how to do stuff and we had a couple of receivers down, so he put his pads on just to show them some stuff and kind of got everybody riled up," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "He didn't do that much; he just wandered around and did a few drills with them and one one-on-one. That was a lot of fun. He made a great catch. Greg covered him, but he made a spectacular catch."

Walters won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver as a senior at Stanford in 1999 and then played eight years in the NFL with four teams.

It's been seven years since Walter's playing days, though, and MacIntyre joked, "He's not near as fast as he used to be."

Sidelined

One of the reasons Walters put the pads on is that senior Tyler McCulloch has been inactive most of the spring.

"He has a arch foot problem, but he also has a weird deal — he's got a pinky turf toe, and it's jammed in there and he just keeps inflaming it," MacIntyre said. "The only way to really heal that is rest."

MacIntyre said the team felt it was best to rest McCulloch now, so that he can hopefully start working out this summer. McCulloch has caught 58 passes for 570 yards and four touchdowns during his CU career.

Notable

Sophomore cornerback Yuri Wright was "dinged" in practice recently, MacIntyre said. Wright did not practice Wednesday, but MacIntyre said, "He should be able to go Saturday." ... On Saturday, the Buffs will hold their annual spring game. Seniors will get together and draft teams ahead of the game. .... The spring game is scheduled for a 12:07 p.m. kickoff at Folsom Field. It will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.

Contact BuffZone.com Writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.