There are times during practice when Tony Julmisse and Johnny Huntley lock eyes across the line of scrimmage from one another, ready to compete and get the best of one another as they've been doing for the better part of a decade.
In those moments, Julmisse and Huntley might as well be back on the playgrounds of Plantation, Fla., and not thousands of miles from home beginning their Division I college football careers.
The memories of playing youth football together aren't that far in the background for the pair of University of Colorado freshmen. Less than a year removed from their final high school football game, Julmisse and Huntley will hit the field Saturday in front of more than 100,000 fans in one of the most historic venues in college football when the Buffs take their shot at No. 4 Michigan.
"Some of our offers at first didn't match up, but as soon as Colorado came out to watch me and him practice, they offered us on the same day," Huntley said. "We both took a visit out here and loved it. Why not go play college football with one of your best friends?
"It's always good to have someone from home with you, someone from the same area as you. If you go through tough times you go through it together."
Both players slowly have slowly worked their way into the fringe of CU's rotation, with Huntley making the first reception of his career (good for 14 yards) Saturday against Idaho State and Julmisse continuing to hone his multi-faceted role as a potential impact player in all three phases of the game.
Julmisse has been credited with three tackles and also recorded the first fumble recovery of his career late in the Buffs' opening rout of Colorado State. Rare is the transition seamless from high school to a team in Power 5 conference, yet being able to continue their competitive rivalry on the field alongside their friendship off the field has been a boon for Julmisse and Huntley since arriving in Boulder.
"It's been a clean transition coming in from fall camp," Julmisse said. "I feel like the coaches are starting to see I'm starting to pick up on everything. I'm starting to get more opportunities. Athletically, (two positions) isn't that difficult at all for me. I've been doing it since I was five. It's mostly just looking over plays at night trying to review, trying to make sure you get that comprehension down."
Julmisse has gotten his hands on the ball as a kickoff returner, a role he believes will reap a big play before long. That sentiment is echoed by co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini. Not only has Chiaverini been impressed with the way both players have progressed, but he believes Julmisse's off-the-charts athleticism is a natural fit for a big-time kick returner.
"I've been impressed with their ability — they both have big-time ability," Chiaverini said. "(Julmisse) has next-level speed. Speed you just can't coach. I think we'll see more and more from them. They both have huge ceilings.
"(Julmisse) is going to be an elite kick returner when it's all said and done. He's got that natural ability to hit the hole and hit it with speed. You're going to see the kid take a couple back here pretty soon. They're both going to keep getting better."