When healthy, Michael Adkins II has proven to be an exceptional running back at Colorado.
This spring, Adkins has been healthy, which has him and the Buffaloes hopeful that he can have a strong senior season.
"I feel pretty good," Adkins said after practice on Wednesday. "It's always good to get back playing football, so it's been great."
A healthy Adkins next season could be huge for the Buffs, especially with junior Kyle Evans dislocating his hip in a scrimmage on Saturday. The Buffs aren't sure if Evans — who was second on the team with 346 rushing yards last year — will be ready for the season.
Senior Phillip Lindsay, who had 1,745 yards in total offense (counting the Alamo Bowl) last season, is slated to start once again, but the Buffs will need others to come through, as well. That's where Adkins could play a key role.
"He's very talented," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "Michael hasn't been able to put together a full season since he's been here and he's just had different nagging injuries. Hopefully he'll stay healthy, because if stays healthy, he's a very good football player and he can make a lot of plays for us.
"Hopefully he is able to stay healthy this year and go out like he should and have a great senior year."
Adkins has rushed for 1,175 yards in his career (42nd in program history), but did most of that work before injuring his hamstring on his first carry of the third game of the 2015 season.
Adkins missed a few games in 2013 and 2014 with injuries and then missed the final 10 games of the 2015 season. He had a set-back in fall camp last August, but was actually in uniform for all 14 games last season. Playing behind Lindsay and Evans, however, Adkins had just 30 yards on 10 carries.
"It was a coaches' decision and you have to respect that and just do what you can do, control what you can control," Adkins said.
After putting together a relatively healthy season and now, so far, a healthy spring, Adkins is eager to show what he can do with the ball.
"I probably haven't played in about two years or so now consistently, so it's definitely been frustrating, but I definitely want to make this a good year," he said. "My mindset going into every year is to make sure I come out and perform the best that I can."
Regardless of what he does on the field, Adkins is set up for a bright future. He's already obtained his bachelor's degree, and is on schedule to earn a master's in accounting in December.
"I've prided myself on that since I was a little kid," he said of his academic success. "It goes in tandem, school and football. That's what carries your future. If you don't take care of school, that's tough, and you're not going to have the success that you want in life."
Evans had surgery on Monday and MacIntyre said the procedure "went as well as could be expected."
MacIntyre said Evans won't be able to do much for the next couple of months, but is hopeful that Evans' strength and conditioning will allow him to return in time for the season.
"It's too early to know," MacIntyre said. "It just depends on how it heals up. He's real compact, he's really got a great infrastructure of strength, so hopefully that'll help."
Lee splitting time
Running back Donovan Lee, who had moved to cornerback this spring, is splitting time between the two positions with Evans out.
"He went back and forth the last two days in practice," MacIntyre said. "We're very fortunate to have an athlete like Donovan that can be able to do that."
A senior, Lee has played receiver and running back during his career at CU.
Tonz impressing at OL
This spring, the Buffs experimented with moving sophomore defensive lineman Brett Tonz to the offensive line. On Wednesday, MacIntyre said, "The way I see it, it's a permanent move."
Offensive line coach Klayton Adams has been impressed with Tonz this spring and said last week, "I think he's really bright and he's got all the ability that you want for a guy in that spot."
Tonz has been practicing at guard, but the Buffs believe he could play center at some point, as well.
"I want him to learn the offensive guard and then start sliding over and taking some reps (at center)," Adams said. "If you can find three guys that you feel comfortable with playing at center, it's a pretty good thing."
Tim Lynott and Jonathan Huckins have been handling the bulk of the work at center.
MacIntyre said the "spring game" on March 18, which is open to the public, will be part scrimmage and part practice. Lack of depth at offensive line will prevent them from scrimmaging the whole time. "We'll have two teams, but we won't be able to do two hours worth of it," he said. The spring game is slated for 1 p.m. at Folsom Field.