The Colorado football team hasn't had much of an offseason.

Just eight weeks ago, the Buffaloes played Oklahoma State in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

On Wednesday, the Buffs (10-4 last season) return to the field for the first of 15 spring practices.

While it's only been eight weeks, a lot has changed for the Buffs since we last saw them. Gone are 10 regular starters (eight on defense) who have exhausted their eligibility.

In addition to all those starters, the defense lost three of four coaches this offseason.

The Buffs added several new faces in January, as four junior college transfers and five high school players arrived early and in time to participate in spring.

And, of course, the Buffs have dealt with a major off the field distraction, as safeties coach Joe Tumpkin was asked to resign in January after he was under investigation for domestic violence.

Tumpkin has since been charged in the case, and CU - including head coach Mike MacIntyre - is feeling heat. There will be an investigation conducted this spring to look into how MacIntyre and CU handled the Tumpkin situation.

Given all of that, the Buffs will resume their preparation for the 2017 season on Wednesday. They have questions to be answered and plenty of players to keep an eye this spring.'s preview of spring football:

5 Questions facing the Buffs


1. Will the Tumpkin situation be a distraction?: MacIntyre has no choice but to deal with the situation, as he is a part of the investigation that will be conducted. He'll likely try doing his best to keep that situation from affecting the team.

2. How will the defense come together?: After ranking among the top defenses in the country last year, the Buffs will lean on new coordinator D.J. Eliot to fill the holes created by graduation and coaches leaving. He's got plenty of talent with which to work.

3. Who will emerge as the starting quarterback?: Sophomore Steven Montez is the only quarterback on the roster with college experience, and he is the odds-on favorite to win the job. But, redshirt freshman Sam Noyer and true freshman Tyler Lytle are talented enough to push him. The Buffs would love to come out of spring feeling confident about at least two of the three.

4. Can the Buffs find starters on the defensive line?: All three starting defensive linemen from last year are gone, creating a lot of competition this spring for starting and backup roles.

5. Will the offensive line make improvements?: Four of the five starters from last year are back. The Buffs need to start solidifying the whole starting five and get some cohesion with that group.

Senior Afolabi Laguda is the only returning starter in CU’s secondary and will be a player to watch in spring practice.
Senior Afolabi Laguda is the only returning starter in CU's secondary and will be a player to watch in spring practice. (Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera)

5 veterans to watch

A handful of veteran players who will be counted on to take their game to another level this spring:

LB Addison Gillam, Sr.: The fifth-year senior has started 24 games and registered 270 tackles and 10.5 sacks during his career. Spending most of 2016 as a top reserve, Gillam figures to regain the starting job he had from 2013-14, and he has reportedly had a strong offseason of workouts. If he's healthy, Gillam could be better than ever and ready to dominate.

LT Jeromy Irwin, Sr.: Plagued by injuries early in his career, Irwin enters his sixth season at CU. He had a strong season last fall in returning from a knee injury, starting 13 of 14 games at left tackle. A second-team All-Pac-12 performer last season, he and the Buffs hope he can take another step forward. He's a key to the offensive line solidifying itself and improving as a group.

DL Leo Jackson III, Sr.: With all three starting defensive linemen from 2016 now gone, the Buffs have some holes to fill up front. Jackson, who started 10 games in 2015, could be a significant piece to the puzzle for CU. He spent last season as a reserve, registering 16 tackles in 254 snaps. A strong spring by Jackson - and others - will help the Buffs feel more comfortable about their line going into the fall.

S Afolabi Laguda, Sr.: The only member of last year's starting secondary that returns, Laguda was fifth on the team in defensive snaps played (792) and fourth in tackles (80) last season. So far this offseason, he has taken on a leadership role and appears primed to be one of the top players on defense this next season.

RB Phillip Lindsay, Sr.: Coming off the best season of his career, there's no question about Lindsay's ability. The question is: what can he do for an encore? He ran for 1,189 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, while also catching 47 passes for 390 yards and a touchdown. He may not need to put up the same numbers, but he needs to come close and once again give CU a top-notch threat in the backfield.

5 newcomers to watch

Players that are new to the team this semester and have a chance to make their mark this spring.

DL Javier Edwards, Jr.: CU's biggest loss - literally - was Josh Tupou, the 6-foot-3, 345-pound nose tackle who is now aiming for a spot in the NFL Draft. Edwards, a junior college transfer, could fill that spot. He's 6-3 and the Buffs would like him to get down to 350-355 for the season. Already viewed as a good athlete for his size, Edwards needs a good spring to prove he can be the one to fill Tupou's shoes.

DE Shamar Hamilton, Jr.: The Buffs' top pass rusher from a year ago - Jimmie Gilbert - has graduated, and the Buffs need somebody to get to the quarterback. They've got plenty of options, but Hamilton is one of the most intriguing. A JUCO transfer, the 6-5, 230-pound Hamilton is listed as the same size as Gilbert and could be exactly what CU needs.

QB Tyler Lytle, Fr.: An early enrollee from high school. Given his youth, it's possible he won't even play this next year. He's one to watch in spring, however, because the Buffs will give him a chance to compete for the starting and backup jobs. If nothing else, it'll be interesting to see how he handles his first taste of college football.

DL Chris Mulumba, Jr.: One of the most unique newcomers on the team, Mulumba is already 24 years old and served a year in the Finnish Army after high school. He's still learning about football, but has the size (6-4, 280) and strength to compete for a starting role on the defensive line.

DB Dante Wigley, So.: Another JUCO transfer, Wigley fills an immediate need in the secondary. Although listed as a cornerback, Wigley has the ability to also play safety and nickel. At 6-1, 180, he's got good size and will get the opportunity to earn some playing time this spring.

Players ready to break out

Several players who have been on the team and have the opportunity to seize a bigger role this spring.

RB Beau Bisharat, So.: The biggest running back on the roster (6-2, 215), Bisharat played sparingly last year, but could have a bigger role in the offense this season.

OLB N.J. Falo, Jr.: During his first two years at CU, Falo has shown flashes of excellence. Now, he'll have a chance to get on the field more if he can take that next step. He could be a key to CU's pass rush.

DB Nick Fisher, Jr.: He's only seen significant playing time in one game - last season vs. Washington State - and earned Pac-12 defensive player of the week honors for his performance. He could be ready to take a starring role.

OL Aaron Haigler, So.: He split time at right tackle with Sam Kronshage, who is now gone. The opportunity to win the job full-time is there.

CB Anthony Julmisse, Fr.: A dynamic athlete, he came to CU as a receiver last year, but quickly moved to corner. He didn't play much because of the senior talent ahead of him, but the opportunity to win a starting job is there.

QB Steven Montez, So.: With four-year starter Sefo Liufau gone, the starting job is Montez's to lose. A big (6-5, 225), talented player with a strong arm, he threw for 1,017 yards and nine touchdowns last season.

DL Frank Umu, So.: Much like Jackson, Edwards and Mulumba, Umu has a golden opportunity this spring, given the graduation losses on the line. He's played just 18 defensive snaps, but has had a great offseason.

WR Juwann Winfree, Jr.: He was supposed to be a breakout player last year before tearing his ACL in fall camp. A former JUCO transfer, Winfree has the talent to be the leader of an exceptional group of receivers.

Brian Howell:, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.