In recent years, the Colorado football program has become quite adept at producing top-notch talent at cornerback.
Three players who have started at cornerback for the Buffaloes over the past three years — Chidobe Awuzie, Ken Crawley and Ahkello Witherspoon — are currently in the NFL, and Isaiah Oliver is on his way after recently announcing he will skip his senior year to enter the 2018 draft.
That's a lot of talent to lose, but the Buffs are confident in their corner crew going into 2018.
It's a group that could be led by junior Dante Wigley, who started half the season — his first in Boulder. A transfer from Holmes Community College, Wigley got burned at times, but also played well at times. He finished with 28 tackles and six pass breakups.
"For Dante just getting here in the spring and learning the defense and halfway through the season being a starter, I think he made some huge strides and I'm excited to see how he'll play next year," CU defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said.
Trey Udoffia, who will be a sophomore next year, had the same type of season — struggling at times, but flashing great potential. He started eight games and finished second on the team with 10 pass breakups.
If Wigley and Udoffia show the type of improvement that their predecessors showed, the Buffs will be in good shape.
However, it's possible that newcomer Delrick Abrams will be the top corner on the team. A transfer from Independence Community College, he was rated one of the top 10 corners in the country in the JUCO ranks this season.
Abrams will be a junior with two years of JUCO experience under his belt. Head coach Mike MacIntyre said he's impressed with the athleticism and length of Abrams, and said he can "make all the plays."
"He went to junior college, we found him there and he has just excelled," MacIntyre said. "We're honored to have him playing on our team and I look forward to coaching him."
Outside of those three, the Buffs will have a group of talented, young corners that don't have much experience, but have impressed Eliot in practice.
Freshman Chris Miller redshirted this season and "did some really good things" in practice, Eliot said.
Ronnie Blackmon and Derrion Rakestraw will be sophomores and Eliot was pleased with the progress both of them made throughout the season.
Speaking of Miller, Blackmon and Rakestraw, Eliot said, "Those guys have bright futures here."
So does incoming freshman L.J. Wallace, who, at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds has the size and athleticism to play corner or safety.
"I think he'll be another in a long line of excellent DBs that play at Colorado," MacIntyre said.
It's a long line of talent that CU hopes grows even more during the 2018 season.
Continuity on offense
When co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Brian Lindgren left CU earlier this month for the same position at Oregon State, MacIntyre didn't look far to fill the void.
MacIntyre shifted play-calling duties to co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini, while promoting offensive line coach Klayton Adams to co-offensive coordinator.
That decision was based not only on MacIntyre's confidence in the Adams/Chiaverini duo, but the desire to maintain continuity.
"I didn't want to make a huge change and bring somebody else in and we change all the terminology and we start over when I have a quarterback (Steven Montez) that's been in for two years and understands it," MacIntyre said. "The other quarterbacks behind him got it understood, our lines got it and we have good receivers."
Had MacIntyre made an outside hire to run the offense, he said, "All you're doing the whole spring practice is trying to basically get back to zero. I want to be able to accelerate us to be really good."
MacIntyre is eager to see Adams and Chiaverini work together in running the offense.
"(Adams and Chiaverini) are great, young minds, they're energetic, they have great personalities, they relate well with the kids," MacIntyre said. "I think they'll do really, really well together."
CU's defense struggled quite a bit at times last season, and because of it, Eliot has taken some heat from fans. MacIntyre, however, said he was pleased with Eliot's first season at CU, considering the lack of experience the Buffs faced on defense.
"I thought D.J. did a really good job," he said. "He's done an unbelievable job recruiting. His attitude is phenomenal. We'll definitely be better on defense (in 2018) than we were last year."