With more than 100 players on his roster, Colorado head football coach Mike MacIntyre has a tough time noticing everybody during every practice.

On Wednesday, however, MacIntyre noticed senior safety Terrel Smith. It marked the first time this camp that the Buffaloes put the pads on, and Smith didn't waste any time getting comfortable.

"He's running into people. That's the first thing I wanted to see," MacIntyre said. "His physicalness was the main concern and he's doing that."

A fifth-year senior, Smith skipped the 2013 season after electing to have his right shoulder surgically repaired. He originally injured that shoulder in the 2012 season opener against Colorado State, but played through the injury. He even played through the 2013 spring season without much pain. Last fall, however, the pain intensified and he chose to get it fixed.

After playing sparingly this past spring for precautionary reasons, Smith is full-go now.

"It feels great," he said. "I'm back with the guys and going out here, flying around and I get to hit again. I'm comfortable, I'm confident and I'm ready to hit and have fun and play with my guys. And I'm ready to win."

A 5-foot-9, 195-pounder from Patterson, N.J., Smith made his mark early on in his CU career, recording 15 tackles in his first game in 2010. He played in 29 games from 2010-12, racking up 166 tackles.

Back in the fold, Smith is one of the most experienced players in the secondary. He's also well-respected by his peers, as he was voted a team captain for the season.


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"I've played a lot of games and started a lot of games," he said. "I can bring that experience to the secondary.

"I'm ready to show my teammates what I'm about. I'm ready to show these coaches what I'm about and get ready to be back to my old self."

Back in pads

MacIntyre said it seems that most players enjoy the first day in pads, and Wednesday was no exception.

"We got more physical today," he said. "We did it not the whole the time; we picked certain periods to make sure we were more physical. I thought they did a good job."

Smith said the players need to get used to pads again, but enjoyed it.

"We love being out in full pads," he said. "It feels good. It's our first day and we've got to get into it. We have to get the rust off."

MacIntyre was especially pleased with the way the running backs looked on the first day in pads.

"I thought the running backs made some nice cuts today," he said. "You always call it the weight behind their pads; they had good body lean and good with cutting. That's something I thought I'd see, but I didn't know I'd see it the very first day in pads, so it was great to see that."

Showing maturity

Through the early days of camp, MacIntyre has been impressed with junior defensive lineman Justin Solis.

"Justin is practicing a lot better this camp than he did last camp," MacIntyre said of the 6-1, 305-pounder. "I haven't had to yell at him one time about running to the ball. So, he's in better shape, he's in better condition and he's pushing himself. He understands what it takes."

Solis played in all 12 games a year ago, starting the last seven. But, MacIntyre said Solis never really learned how to push himself before this year. Being forced to sit out of spring practice to concentrate on academics may have helped spark Solis, MacIntyre said.

"Sometimes taking something away from somebody that they really, really want really motivates you to realize, 'Oh, that's not a given. That's something I've earned and I've got to hold on to and take care of,'" MacIntyre said. "I think he realized that and that's what I'm seeing by his effort and also in the classroom. He's doing really well in the classroom. It's good to see kids mature."

Notable

MacIntyre said that it's too early to tell how return units will shape up, but added, "I do feel like I see more guys with athleticism and speed that can do more things for us, which is good." ... Defensive backs Jered Bell and John Walker and defensive end Tyler Henington missed Wednesday's practice with injuries.

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