Asked about transfer running back Travon McMillian over the summer, Colorado co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini admitted he needed to see him on the field before offering an opinion.
Six practices into fall camp, Chiaverini has been impressed with the senior, who rushed for 2,152 yards in three seasons at Virginia Tech.
"I've been impressed with how strong the kid is," Chiaverini said Wednesday. "He runs through tackles and he's starting to get in shape. His first couple of days, you could tell he was a little out of shape, but by day three, day four, he made a couple cuts that I haven't seen many guys make and it was impressive to see. He's got some power behind his pads."
McMillian is one of several players vying for the starting job at running back, and at 6-feet and 210 is one of the biggest backs on the team.
"Travon McMillian is one that came out of nowhere," outside linebacker Carson Wells said. "He's doing really good. He makes crisp cuts. Travon looks good. He's big. He's a load to tackle."
Even with his size, McMillian has impressed with his speed and agility.
"He's strong enough (to break tackles) and he's fast enough to get on the perimeter and make plays," Chiaverini said. "I'm excited to see him when the lights come on."
Despite playing in a new offense, McMillian has also been a quick learner.
"You can tell he's played a lot of college football," Chiaverini said. "You can tell he understands schemes and concepts. It's just the verbiage is different for him now, but ... he's picked up our verbiage and he's doing a good job adjusting."
Protection a priority
In going through their competition at running back, the Buffs are looking for more than just ball carriers. The ability to excel in pass protection is important, as well.
"Pass block in our offense is vital, because we play fast and we have a lot of people that are trying to bring pressure against our tempo," Chiaverini said. "It's important for those running backs to understand where their blitzes are coming from , where their backers are coming from. Coach (Darian) Hagan and coach (Klayton) Adams do a good job of working together and making sure they're on the same page with that."
Pass protection was underrated skill of former Buffs' running back Phillip Lindsay. So, in addition to replacing Lindsay's production, they've got to replace his blocking ability.
So far, Chiaverini said McMillian and senior Kyle Evans - despite being just 5-7, 180 - are doing well in that department.
"Kyle Evans has done an unbelievable job in training camp," Chiaverini said. "Him and Travon, I've been excited about those guys."
Evans is showing his all-around skills so far in camp.
"Kyle may be a smaller guy, but he's not built like a little guy," Chiaverini said. "He's really, really put together for a smaller back and he's smart. He can catch the ball and he's really good between the tackles."
Overall, Chiaverini said he's been pleased with how the offense has played through the first six practices of camp.
"The guys are working," he said. "We're making fall camp mistakes, but I like the way the guys on offense are competing, from receiver to quarterbacks to running backs, tight ends, O-linemen. There's a lot of great competition out there, and the defense is making us better every day, so it's been good.
"We have to keep working and we're making a lot of mistakes, but I expect them to make mistakes. As we keep progressing in camp, I want them to make less mistakes."
True freshman Israel Antwine, who is 6-4, 315, continues to impress on the defensive line. "Israel Antwine, for a true freshman, gets a lot of push," Chiaverini said. Defensive line coach Kwahn Drake said recently that Antwine and fellow freshman Tava Finau "are full of energy. Athletically, those guys will help us." ... CU is scheduled to conduct a scrimmage from 9:15 a.m. to noon on Saturday at Folsom Field. The session is open to the public and is the last open practice of camp.