CU Buffs’ Sam Kronshage stepping up in battle for starting job

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado running back Donovan Lee could be a top candidate to return kickoffs this season. Go to for photos of Thursday’s practice.

When Klayton Adams took over as the Colorado offensive line coach in February, he made it very clear that every starting job was up for grabs.

The challenge to compete is one that Sam Kronshage has embraced all offseason, and with the Buffaloes’ opener just two weeks away, he believes he’s a better player because of it.

“Still to this day, there’s not a concrete five starters yet,” Kronshage said. “It makes us go out every day and compete against each other which is good; a nice healthy competition.

“Me and (Aaron) Haigler, who are going at the right tackle, we’re great buddies, we’re pushing each other. I think it’s improving both of our games by making us compete like that.”

A fourth-year junior, the 6-foot-6, 295-pound Kronshage has impressed CU coaches and teammates with his development in the offseason and his play in camp.

“The biggest improvement I’ve seen out of Sam is he’s so much stronger,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “He’s always had good feet; he just wasn’t quite strong enough last year a lot of times. This year, he’s a lot stronger and he’s able to do that and he’s experienced. You can see he’s so much more experienced and it’s making a big difference. He’s had a really good camp.”

Last year, Kronshage started six games and he played 504 snaps overall. His plus-play percentage of 56.9 ranked third among the nine CU lineman that played at least 100 snaps.

While Kronshage is stronger and bigger — his listed weight is 10 pounds heavier than last year — he believes it’s his technique that has improved the most.

“Every day you’re coming out trying to improve your technique and get better in that aspect and I think I’ve done that,” he said.

“You have to have the attitude coming out here that you’re going to be the best you can every day. If you don’t do that, you’re not going to get it done in this competitive league. You have to motivate yourself, find it within yourself and you have to push through it and get yourself better.”


MacIntyre isn’t talking about which players he’s got in mind for kickoff and punt return duties, but said the Buffs are getting close to figuring out who will start in those roles.

“We’ve worked on that a lot and we’ll keep doing that,” he said. “We’ve done it basically every day, some form of it. We’ll make that decision starting next week, but we’ve got three or four, we think, in each area.”

Junior Shay Fields and sophomore Jay MacIntyre figure to be among the top candidates to return punts, while junior running backs Donovan Lee and Phillip Lindsay have experience returning kickoffs.

Around the corner

As the Buffs left the practice field on Thursday morning, they had just 15 days before the Sept. 2 opener against Colorado State.

MacIntyre said the team has had a good focus and attitude throughout camp. As they head into the final two weeks, the Buffs will start working on their game prep soon.

“We’ll do a lot more game type simulations, where we’ll have both teams on the field and then run on special teams and substitutions, and all the functions of a team,” MacIntyre said. “We’ll do that quite a bit between now and the first game so at the game the kids are just used to that.

“Second of all, we have to sure up our starting lineups. We still have a couple more days of camp and then we’ll head into that starting next week.”

Brian Howell:, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.