Asked about the new attitude in the weight room this offseason, Jonathan Van Diest got a wide smile.

"I love it," the Colorado linebacker said. "They've amped it up: running, lifting, everything. It's been awesome."

Although the Buffaloes have yet to get on the field with new head coach Mel Tucker and his staff, they've spent the past several weeks working out and preparing for spring football and there has been a big change in the workout process.

"The lifts are hard," Van Diest said. "It's pretty much like a cardio lift with everything, because we're just running between stations. There's no break, but we're going heavy and we're going a lot of reps. It feels good."

Coming off back-to-back 5-7 seasons, the Buffs clearly needed a jolt, which is what prompted the coaching change in the first place. Led by director of strength and conditioning Drew Wilson, the Buffs have had an increase of intensity in the weight room.

"The (workouts) are a lot different," quarterback Steven Montez said. "We're probably doing more lifts and more exercises in less amount of time. Workouts used to be where we'd have maybe seven to eight lifts and we'd get that done in an hour and 30 minutes, maybe an hour and 40. Now we're doing a few more workouts and being done in an hour. We've been flying in the weight room, doing a ton of sets, putting up big weights.

"We're going to get bigger, faster, stronger this offseason, for sure."


Junior defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson, who had a dominant season in 2018 while playing at 280 pounds, said coaches have told him they'd like to see him get to 290 this offseason. He recently weighed in at 288.

"These coaches, they came from the SEC, obviously, so they want us to be bigger," Johnson said. "The workouts are going to be different. It's not going to be just strength; they want to put mass on us and put more weigh on us."

In addition to the increased intensity with the workouts, the Buffs are seeing a change with nutrition, including personalized smoothies.

"Different food has been coming in, and we're able to get snacks throughout the day," Johnson said. "They want to make us bigger, stronger.

"We've been doing a lot of things differently, working a little harder, doing a lot more reps and doing things that are changing us, hopefully making us better."

The changes have created a new attitude throughout the team.

"People are hungry, people are ready to work," Montez said. "I think we're starting to grow a lot more mental toughness as a group. We had guys who were tough and we had guys who weren't tough, but overall as a group, I think our mental toughness right now is getting better by the day. I think we're going to continually get better with our mental toughness and how our mind starts to work when we get tired.

"You have to like the grind if you're going to play this game. You can't come in and lollygag around and not really get much done or you won't get any better."

Getting better is the primary objective, of course, and Van Diest likes the foundation being laid by Tucker and his staff.

"It feels like we're making the right steps to improving this culture and this program," he said. "We can instill that for future generations."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or