Jake Moretti has yet to start participating in team drills, but the Colorado Buffaloes are encouraged that the former four-star recruit will get there soon.
Colorado wrapped up its sixth of 15 spring football practices on Wednesday, and head coach Mike MacIntyre said he continues to be impressed with Moretti, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound offensive lineman from Pomona High School.
One of the top recruits in CU's 2017 class, Moretti missed his senior year of high school with a torn ACL. He then spent the entire 2017 season recovering from knee and leg issues and did not practice.
This spring, the Buffs have been working him back into football shape with individual drills.
"At the progression we have him on, he's checked off every mark," MacIntyre said. "Every day we're doing a little bit more and a little bit more. Hopefully he'll keep making that progression."
The Buffs have nine practices left this spring, and there is hope that Moretti could start participating in team drills before they wrap up the spring on March 23.
"If he doesn't have any setbacks, we'll have a chance to do some of that," MacIntyre said. "It's been a while, so we want to make sure we ease him back in and don't throw him back in too fast."
Although he's limited, Moretti is showing signs of being the star he was coming out of high school.
"He's working hard, he's extremely tough, he's very athletic," MacIntyre said.
At this point, the Buffs aren't sure whether Moretti will land at guard or tackle, but they'll take the progress being made.
"That kid has a really bright future and he's gone through a bunch of obstacles to get himself back on the field," co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. "I couldn't be more proud of the kind of kid he is, just the way he approaches his rehab. He's really looked good in individual drills."
MacIntyre said he has been very pleased with the competition and attitude of the Buffs this spring.
"This spring is very spirited, very intense and they seem extremely focused," he said. "All our teams (in the past) have worked hard in spring practice, but I do feel like this team has a little more edge right now, and I think it's maybe because there's more competition for more spots, too.
"I see leadership by guys that already have spots. I see them pushing guys and pushing themselves. I like what I see so far in that aspect."
Going from 10-4 in 2016 to 5-7 last year may have something to do with it, too. MacIntyre said he thinks the slip back to 5-7 was a reminder to the players that they have to keep working hard to win.
"I think they realized how hard it is to be successful all the time," he said. "Now they realize you have to make it happen every day. I'm seeing great habits off the field."
Brown making mark
Receiver Tony Brown, a junior who transferred to CU last summer from Texas Tech, is starting to make some plays after being hobbled with a hamstring injury coming into spring.
"Tony is really starting to get his legs back," Chiaverini said. "He's really gotten back to full speed and he looks good. He's making plays, his explosion is coming back and he can run, too, when he's in shape. I'm excited about Tony."
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Brown, recruited to Texas Tech by Chiaverini, caught 27 passes for 378 yards and a touchdown in two seasons with the Red Raiders.
Brown is working with a talented group of receivers that includes seniors Kabion Ento, Jay MacIntyre and Juwann Winfree and sophomores KD Nixon and Laviska Shenault.
The Buffs scrimmaged for about half of Wednesday's practice, doing a lot of red zone situations. MacIntyre said it was a "fiery" scrimmage and added, "Both sides made plays. It was very physical." ... The Buffs have their whole offense and defense installed at this point, MacIntyre said. "Now we're just repeating it ... and trying to put more competition situations in different situations and areas," he said. ... MacIntyre said no players have switched positions this spring, other than linemen working at different spots.