Colorado is at the point with its football program that it doesn't have to rely on true freshmen to be on the field.

Some are hard to miss, however, and Jacob Callier is becoming one of those players. The 6-foot-2, 245-pound outside linebacker has turned some heads during preseason camp.

"Especially when we're in nickel and anything to do with pass rush, he's very good with his pass rush," junior inside linebacker Rick Gamboa said. "He's getting more comfortable in space and figuring out more of the defense. I think when game time comes he'll get more comfortable as time goes."

With the exception of senior Derek McCartney (25 career starts), the Buffs don't have a lot of experience at outside linebacker. Junior Terran Hasselbach (190 career plays) is next on the list of experience.

Jimmie Gilbert, last year's sack leader, and Aaron Howard both graduated, N.J. Falo was dismissed from the team, and redshirt freshman Pookie Maka left the program in the summer.

The attrition has opened the door for others, including Callier, who starred at St. John Bosco High School in California last year.

"He's really doing great at pass rushing," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "He has a little knack, has a little ability to pass rush. If he keeps coming on with his pass rushing ability, and with us losing a couple of outside linebackers, he might have a chance to play some this year for us because he's such a good pass rusher."

MacIntyre added that another true freshman, Dante Sparaco, is pushing for playing time at outside linebacker, as well.


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Freshmen backers

Throughout most of camp, true freshmen Nate Landman, Jonathan Van Diest and Carson Wells have been battling for playing time at inside linebacker.

Wells is now working mainly at outside linebacker, while Landman and Van Diest continue fighting inside.

"No one has really pulled away yet and we'll see how that happens the next couple of weeks," MacIntyre said.

MacIntyre said he was a bit concerned about Van Diest coming in, because he played defensive line at Cherry Creek, but said, "We loved his athletic ability from camp. He doesn't look like he's a D-lineman playing linebacker; he looks like he's a linebacker playing linebacker."

Gamboa said he's been impressed with Landman's ability to learn the defense to this point.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33