With the opening game just 13 days away for the Colorado Buffaloes, it's becoming increasingly apparent that true freshmen will play key roles this season.
In last week's report, we highlighted five of those true freshmen: Shay Fields, Jase Franke, Michael Mathewes, Lee Walker and Evan White.
With experience and depth being an issue at defensive end, Franke and Mathewes continue to get a lot of reps with the top units. Meanwhile, Fields and Walker continue to make big plays on offense. White, a safety, might have become a little more important on Friday when starting free safety Jered Bell was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Here is a look at five other true freshmen who could find their way onto the field this season:
RB Donovan Lee — The Buffs appear to be loaded with talent in the backfield this year, and more than likely Lee won't see a lot of carries behind Michael Adkins, Christian Powell, Phillip Lindsay and Tony Jones. However, his athleticism is tough to ignore, and he could become a factor for CU as a punt returner or kick returner.
OL John Lisella — A former standout at Columbine High School, the 6-foot-4, 265-pounder has consistently played with the top two offensive line groups over the past week. During Saturday's scrimmage, he was the second-team right tackle. If first-teamer Stephane Nembot goes down, Lisella may not be the first option to replace him (look for Shane Callahan or, perhaps, Marc Mustoe, in that case), but he's clearly made an impression and proving his worth so far.
DT Eddy Lopez — Experience and depth are concerns for the Buffs up front on defense. The trio of Juda Parker, Justin Solis and Josh Tupou leads the way at defensive tackle and they will likely get most of the snaps, if healthy. If they struggle, or get hurt, however, look for Lopez to be at the front of the line for playing time. At 6-4, 300 pounds, he's got the size to hold his own up front, and he's looked good at times in camp.
WR Jay MacIntyre — Yeah, the head coach's son is pretty good. He's small, at 5-10, 185 pounds, and may not see much time at receiver this season. But, much like Lee, he's tough to ignore in practice. MacIntyre repeatedly makes big plays while playing with the backup units. He's also in the mix to return punts and/or kicks this season.
DE Christian Shaver — With key injuries already at defensive end, CU's trio of freshmen ends — Franke, Mathewes and Shaver — have been given opportunities to play, and they've made the most of it. Shaver started at right end during Saturday's scrimmage. Along with his fellow freshmen, he's turned some heads with his high motor and work ethic. He's in line to get a lot of playing time this year, if not a starting job.