Every year, it's common for current Colorado football players to show up to the Buffaloes' annual pro day and watch their former teammates work out for NFL scouts, as it offers a glimpse into their dream of playing at the next level.

Last Wednesday, CU quarterback Steven Montez was among the many Buffs to show up, but he didn't stay long.

"I watched for like the first 30 minutes or so and then I was like, 'You know what, I want to get where these guys are at right now and sitting here watching them isn't going to help me get to where they're at,'" he said.

Montez left and went to the football offices to watch film for the next couple of hours.

Following his first full season as CU's starting quarterback, Montez isn't resting. In fact, the junior is working harder than ever.

At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Montez has the ideal stature, along with a rocket arm and the mobility and toughness to make plays with his feet.

There were times last season when Montez put all of those skills on display. His final numbers were actually pretty good, as he threw for 2,975 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while completing 60.5 percent of his passes.

Montez will be the first to admit, however, that what he did last season wasn't good enough.

Yes, he needs to get better to keep his starting job, because sophomore Sam Noyer and redshirt freshman Tyler Lytle are talented challengers, but Montez also needs to get better to lead the Buffs to greater success.


CU (5-7, 2-7 Pac-12) went from first in the Pac-12 South in 2016 to last a year ago and missed out on a bowl game for the ninth time in 10 years.

"It's going to be more on me this year, and I embrace that," Montez said. "I want it to be more on me, I want this to be my team and I want myself to lead us to good things. That's what I came here to do."

Montez said he deferred leadership to seniors such as running back Phillip Lindsay and offensive tackle Jeromy Irwin last season. Already this spring, he's filling that role more than ever.

Colorado quarterback Steven Montez is looking to become more a leader this season.
Colorado quarterback Steven Montez is looking to become more a leader this season. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

"Yeah, I think I definitely need to and I think I definitely have," he said. "I'm a little more vocal when things need to be said or when we need to pick stuff up. I think I've done a pretty good job with that. I get the guys fired up when they need to get fired up."

New quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper recognized immediately that Montez had the physical tools to be great, and is already seeing leadership qualities emerge.

"I think he's a vocal leader," Roper said. "They can't be somebody they're not, and he is a guy that has some emotion to his game. We have to control some of that at times, but you have to be who you are."

Montez has always been the type of player who treats football for what it is: a game. He has fun with post-game interviews and flashes his fraternity hand signal when he scores touchdowns. To some, those are signs of immaturity, but even head coach Mike MacIntyre has said this winter that he sees Montez simply having fun.

"I'm not going to come in and treat it like it's a 9-to-5 job and be miserable here and not talk to anybody and not laugh and mess around, because it's a game," Montez said. "It's a business, but it's also a game. It's a game for us, and I enjoy doing it."

If his fun became a problem for the team, Montez said, he'd change, but it hasn't. What he has changed, however, is his relaxed approach to the game.

Montez now recognizes the seriousness of studying film and embracing the full-time duty of being a starting quarterback at this level. For that, he credits Roper, who has said he preaches to his players that being a quarterback is not a position, it's a lifestyle.

"He's definitely changed my mind about a lot of those things," Montez said of Roper. "A part of me getting comfortable inside the offense is knowing what the defense is doing. You can know what your side is doing all you want, but once dudes start moving around in coverage and you don't know what's going on, then you kind of get in trouble."

An increase in film study has given Montez a greater understanding of defenses than he had last year.

"I break down every single clip that we have of my reps," he said. "I have a notebook and I write: was it a plus or minus on the decision making; what was the coverage; what was the outcome; any corrections on the play; and what the actual play was.

"I do that for every play for every practice."

That's why he didn't stick around too long to watch pro day.

"I was in the quarterback room, and I turn the lights down in there and I have the projector going," he said. "I was sitting in there and I was like, 'Man, I bet there's a lot of dudes like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning doing this exact same thing right now.'"

By doing that work himself, Montez hopes to not only get his own pro day workout in the future, but to lead the Buffaloes to greater heights.

"There's still so much time that we have to put in more work because it doesn't stop when spring ball stops," he said. "I'm very excited to see all this work that we're going to put in here in these next few months, see how that translates to our playing."

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