Last fall, Davion Taylor proved to be one of the best players on the Colorado defense.
This spring, the rising senior has to prove himself again, and that suits him just fine.
Taylor and the rest of the Buffs are aiming to impress new head coach Mel Tucker and the rest of the new staff members this spring.
"Me personally, I like it because it's like a challenge to me so I know I have to prove myself all over again," Taylor said Wednesday, following the Buffs' second practice of spring. "I know I have to work harder. (The new coaches) don't know anything besides the film from last year. I have to prove it to them and that's why I like it."
So far, the coaches have a good first impression of Taylor, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound speedster who had 75 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 11 quarterback pressures and two fumble recoveries — one which he returned for a touchdowns — last season.
Taylor played the "Buff" back position in CU's defense last year, but is still finding his role in the new defense, led by Tucker and coordinator Tyson Summers. The former junior college transfer has the size, strength and athletic ability to play outside linebacker, but he also has the speed — he was a sprinter on CU's track team last spring - to play safety. With the Buffs lacking depth at safety, Taylor could fill a need there.
"He's a guy that's got tremendous speed, he's got good size, very athletic and he's a guy that can do a lot of different things for us," Tucker said. "Position versatility is how I would describe him, so I'm excited about what he can do."
A year ago, spring football wrapped up by March 17, which allowed Taylor to participate throughout the outdoor track season. This year, spring football goes through late April, so Taylor has decided not to run track and focus solely on football.
So far, he's enjoying the new attitude instilled by the staff.
"The intensity is way higher than last year," Taylor said. "I'm really liking it. It's just testing all of our characters and seeing what we can do."
Intensity and tempo have been themes of this entire offseason - beginning with the nine-week "Fourth Quarter" weight program — and it has continued into the first two days of practice.
"We want to make practices harder than the games, so we have to go hard every snap," Tucker said.
After a grueling offseason of strength and conditioning, a couple players said Wednesday that practices haven't been too difficult.
"We're not even tired," quarterback Steven Montez said. "Coming out here and playing football is kind of a blessing.
"I think it's a little bit more intense than what we're used to, what we got with (previous head coach Mike MacIntyre). Coach Mac got a little intense from time to time, but coach Tuck brings that energy every single day, every single minute. I love it. I know the players feed off of it and we can't get enough of his energy."
Roberts on leave
Junior defensive end Terriek Roberts is not participating with the Buffaloes this spring, as he is taking care of priorities off the field.
"I wanted him to focus on his academics and some things off the field, so I told him to go take care of that and then we'll revisit it," Tucker said.
A graduate of Denver South High School, Roberts has played in three games during his career, with one tackle in 12 snaps.
Inside linebacker Nate Landman, who led the team in tackles (123) last season, has impressed Tucker. "I really like the way he runs the defense," he said. "He makes the calls, he gets guys lined up and that allows everyone around him to play faster." ... CU has hired two assistant strength and conditioning coaches - Teddy O'Connor and former CU player DD Goodson. O'Connor spent the past five seasons at Louisville and has also worked at Western Kentucky and Boston College. Goodson, who played at CU from 2011-14, spent last season as a graduate assistant strength coach at Hawaii. He interned at CU in early 2018. Goodson played defensive back, tailback and receiver at times at CU, finishing his career with 60 catches for 688 yards. ... CU has practiced in shorts and helmets the first two days, but will be in pads (with no tackling) on Friday.