Waking up early in the morning to lift weights, as all redshirts did this season, was a challenge, but Colorado quarterback Tyler Lytle knows it'll pay off in the future.

"It wasn't always the most fun, but I've seen huge improvement and big gains in the weight room and on the field this year, definitely," Lytle said.

Like all true freshmen, Lytle came to CU with ideas of playing right away. Although he spent the season on the sidelines, Lytle came away from this season believing it was productive for his development.

"I feel like I got a lot better," he said. "Mentally and physically and in the weight room, I feel like I made huge strides."

The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Lytle came to CU from Servite (Calif.) High School in January, giving him a chance to go through spring drills. He was the most highly recruited quarterback to sign with the Buffs in more than 15 years.

Redshirt sophomore Steven Montez started all year for the Buffs — the first CU quarterback to start the entire season since Cody Hawkins in 2007 — while redshirt freshman Sam Noyer played sparingly in a backup role.

Lytle, meanwhile, dressed for each game and spent the year learning from the older players, and coaches, including co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brian Lindgren.


"All the quarterbacks in the room are pretty close," Lytle said. "We're always bouncing ideas off each other, brain-storming in the quarterback room. I'm soaking in everything I can from the older guys and coach."

Co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said he was impressed with Lytle's development this season.

"He's really progressed physically," Chiaverini said. "His body has really changed in the weight room with coach (Drew) Wilson's weight program. He throws a really good ball and I'm excited to see him in the spring working with the ones and twos."

In the weight room, Lytle said his arm, legs and back all got stronger, but the biggest difference he felt was in his hips.

"When I came in, I had really tight hips," he said. "Coach Wilson ... all those strength coaches have really worked with me on that and gotten my hips loose.

"I just have a better base because of (the work)."

Mentally, Lytle believes he got better because of how the coaches kept him engaged with the week-to-week game planning.

"(Head coach Mike MacIntyre) wanted me to stay in the quarterback room instead of the scout meetings just so I could stay up to speed mentally," he said.

In practice, Lytle worked with the scout team, going up against CU's top defense every day.

"You're getting a great look in going against the best defense on the team," he said. "From an experience point in that aspect, I've gone up against great competition all year."

More than likely, Montez will go into spring atop the depth chart, and the starting job is his to lose. But, with the work he put in this year, Lytle is on the right track, and will do all he can to compete for playing time over the next year.

"We have a really good group and there's more guys coming in, so it's going to be really fun," Chiaverini said.

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