The first day of full pads and tackling at Colorado spring football practices was a little sluggish with a few too many mistakes and sloppiness to allow coach Jon Embree to walk away feeling good Monday.

He had identified the day as Separation Day beforehand and predicted with physical play being ratcheted up another notch, the team would find some pretenders in its midst. Embree said it happened just like he said it would.

"Oh yeah, some guys got exposed, and that`s good because their teammates will know about them," Embree said. "It`s habits right now. That`s the problem right now. Habits. They want to feel sorry for themselves a little bit. More importantly, knowing how to work. We don`t know how to work yet. We`ll get it."

Embree said the Buffs are struggling at times to execute new material in the practice plan, and that is frustrating coaches who would like to see the team hit the field and operate at a high level without as many remedial lessons. The Buffs will be one-third of the way through spring ball following today`s practice. So there is still plenty of time for a surge to the next level of efficiency.


Embree`s impressions haven`t been all negative through the first four practices. When asked if anyone has caught his eye, the first name he mentioned was defensive end Forrest West.

"After Day One, I ripped his butt and demoted him and all he`s done since then is made plays," Embree said. "Now he can still get better, but he responded."

Embree said redshirt freshman running back Tony Jones, quarterback Tyler Hansen, wide receiver Paul Richardson, the entire tight end group, and, at times, the offensive line have caught his eye. But there is a long way to go.

"A lot of guys have responded to the hard coaching they`ve been getting and not moping or putting their head down," he said. "They`re responding. So that`s always a good sign."

Embree said he is not aware of any players who have decided to quit the program because of the drastic change in intensity and coaching style from the previous staff.

"I think there`s some guys that might be on the fence," Embree said.

Embree is learning a few things about himself early in spring practices as well. After 20 years of serving as an assistant coach and working directly throughout practices with a group of players, it has been an adjustment for Embree to leave that behind and focus more on the big picture as the head coach. He said he is missing the communication and hands-on nature of being an assistant.

"You see stuff and you want to say something, but I don`t want to step on toes," Embree said. "I just find the right time to do it. I`m still able to coach. It`s just not as quickly as I want to or in the manner that I want to."

Buffs land running back

Colorado coaches received the second commitment for the 2012 recruiting class Monday from Benjamin Catalon from Westside High School in Houston.

Catalon, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound prospect, chose CU over offers from Baylor and Missouri. He made his decision despite never having visited the school before. He said he plans to travel to Colorado for the spring game April 9 and he is on track to graduate from high school early and enroll in spring semester classes in 2012, which will allow him to participate in spring ball in Boulder next year.

"I just felt like they offer everything that I want in a school," Catalon told "They have a good football program, great academics and the atmosphere there had a lot to do with it also. I`ve haven`t actually visited the campus yet but several of my family members have and they told me all about it. Also, the coaches really made me feel like they wanted me there. All of their letters were hand-written and they made me feel like I was a really high priority to them."