While biding his time and waiting patiently for his opportunity, Trey Udoffia enjoyed a front-row seat to a daily clinic on how the job is supposed to be done in the defensive secondary.
Every day Udoffia saw the same faces. Chidobe Awuzie. Ahkello Witherspoon. Tedric Thompson. Isaiah Oliver. Every day Udoffia took notes on how those former Colorado Buffaloes defensive backs — all currently on NFL rosters — put in the daily work in order to take on the wide-open attacks so prevalent in the Pac-12 Conference.
As Udoffia attempts to take another step forward in his quest to potentially become the Buffs' next standout defensive back, the redshirt sophomore cornerback does so with a wealth of knowledge and a sense of duty in keeping a unit that has been a strength of the Buffs among the premier groups in the Pac-12.
"You learn a lot from the people in front of you, and that's what I'm trying to pass on to the guys below me. I want to be able to set a good example," Udoffia said. "Us corners are really tight. We're always helping each other. We want to see all of us succeed. It's been a great camaraderie and we're really close.
"Going into last year I had kind of the follow-the-veterans'-lead mindset. Now that I have the experience and I'm the vet corner, I've really got to take on that leadership role."
While the Buffs seemingly are set at the two safety spots with seniors Evan Worthington and Nick Fisher, Udoffia is hoping his first big-game experience from 2017 helps bring him an edge in the ongoing competition for one of the two starting cornerback slots.
Udoffia was an early pleasant surprise for the Buffs in 2017, coming off a redshirt season to start the first five games of the season. He nabbed his first (and, to date, only) career interception in the opener against Colorado State, and he ended up appearing in nine of 12 games with seven starts.
However, an injury sustained in the season's fifth game at UCLA took some of the wind out of Udoffia's forward momentum. He missed the next two games and made only two more starts the rest of the way, though Udoffia seemingly got back on track during the offseason — he won the team's Hale Irwin Award as the Buffs' most improved defensive back during spring practice.
"Trey really played well for us at different times last year," CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "The last (few) practices he's really done well. He was slowed down a little bit. A small injury kind of held him out for a few days. But the last few days he's played really well. He's competing really well. He's a big corner who's athletic. We're looking for him to make plays for us this year."
Udoffia essentially is battling four other players — Dante Wigley, Chris Miller, Delrick Abrams, and Mekhi Blackmon — for one of the two starting corner spots. As MacIntyre noted, an injury kept Udoffia sidelined recently but he should be a key figure when the Buffs' defense hits the field for next week's opener against Colorado State.
"I feel very confident in myself," Udoffia said. "I'm excited to get to this game. I'm good to go for sure. I got a little banged up last week. Took a couple days off just to get some treatment, but I'm good to go."