Just about everything went well for Isaac Miller during spring practices a year ago.

Until the end.

Miller was named the Buffaloes' most improved offensive lineman during the spring in 2016 and was thought to be in the running for a starting role at tackle last fall.

During the spring game on April 9, however, Miller left early with a sprained MCL. He never really recovered, however, and didn't play last season.

"It was tough," the Silver Creek High School graduate said. "I had a good spring. (The injury) was supposed to be a minor, easy recovery and it's kind of been a setback for me, but I'm doing everything I can to get back and trying to take care of business."

On Wednesday, the Buffs opened spring practice, with Miller, now healthy, carrying the same optimism he had a year ago.

"I feel good," he said. "I'm getting to the point where I need to be; not quite to the level they need to compete at, but I'm taking steps every day to get better, doing everything that they're asking of me. Hopefully it'll take care of itself soon."

Miller, who is listed at 6-foot-7, 280 pounds, said he's not quite 100 percent, but he's mainly just working his way into football shape.

Miller is currently playing left tackle, and the Buffs like his potential.


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"I think we're trying to put him in position where he can be successful by giving him reps and individual drills and doses that he can handle right now in order to get him healthy," offensive line coach Klayton Adams said. "That's the goal, because he's a pretty talented guy."

The Buffs return starting left tackle Jeromy Irwin, a sixth-year senior, but Irwin is currently playing left guard so that Miller and others can work at tackle.

Colorado offensive line coach Klayton Adams watches practice on Wednesday.
Colorado offensive line coach Klayton Adams watches practice on Wednesday. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

"We're experimenting," Adams said. "I really like to do that in the spring, just to find combinations of guys, because you never know who is going to go down during the season and what your best combination is; we're just trying to find the right five."

In addition to Irwin and Miller, junior Josh Kaiser, sophomores Aaron Haigler and Dillon Middlemiss and freshmen Hunter Vaughn and Chance Lytle are working at tackle.

Shorthanded

CU opened spring practice with only eight assistant coaches, as MacIntyre has yet to fill the final vacancy on his staff.

For now, graduate assistants are filling in and MacIntyre said, "We should have a guy in here pretty soon; just going through all the (human resources) stuff and that type of thing."

Earlier this month, MacIntyre said he was looking for an outside linebackers coach to fill the vacancy. On Wednesday, he said the new hire would "be one of the linebacker coaches and he'll work in special teams also."

First impressions

MacIntyre has seen his players in offseason workouts, but this was his first chance to see them on the practice field in nearly two months.

He said sophomore quarterback Steven Montez, who is projected to be the new starter, "is just in phenomenal shape now and he looked good today."

MacIntyre also singled out junior cornerback Isaiah Oliver and said, "He, to me, has gone to another level."

Receiver Bryce Bobo "looked really good" in the first practice after being hampered late in the year by an ankle injury and MacIntyre said receiver Shay Fields, "has gotten bigger and stronger, and Shay made a couple excellent plays today."

Notable

The Buffs are scheduled to practice on Friday and Saturday. All practices are closed to the public and media. ... Several new walk-ons were included on the roster Wednesday, Broomfield High School graduate Griffin Foulk, who is listed as a defensive back. Other new additions: receiver Cameron Frazier, long snapper Thad Gleason, quarterback Joshua Goldin, running back Riley Hillis, receiver Erik Lawson, linebackers Darrion Pyos and Ethan Todd and kicker Taylor Wagner.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.