Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Trey Udoffia didn’t come to Colorado last summer to sit.
He had visions of immediately playing a vital role for the Buffaloes and becoming the star he was in high school.
When coaches informed him he was going to redshirt, he was disappointed and called his parents back home in Loomis, Calif.
“I didn’t want to (redshirt),” he said.
Six months later, Udoffia is starting to look like an impact player for the Buffaloes.
“Trey Udoffia has been balling, period,” sophomore quarterback Steven Montez said this week. “He’s been playing absolutely phenomenal.”
CU ranked fifth in the country in pass efficiency defense last season, but three of the starters in the secondary are now gone. In fact, all three — Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson and Ahkello Witherspoon — are participating in the NFL scouting combine this week and projected to be selected in the NFL draft next month.
In addition, the Buffs lost both of their secondary coaches this offseason, replacing them with ShaDon Brown, who is in his first month with the Buffs.
Despite the turnover in the secondary, the emergence of Udoffia, junior college transfer Dante Wigley and others has the Buffs encouraged that they can continue to excel.
“The entire secondary has got some really good talent, in particular at the corner position,” Brown said. “I feel good about where we are.”
CU’s secondary is led by senior safeties Afolabi Laguda and Ryan Moeller, who combined for 24 starts last year, and junior cornerback Isaiah Oliver, who played nearly half of the defensive snaps.
Brown has been impressed this spring with all three veterans and said Oliver “will be one of the best players in the Pac-12.”
This spring has mainly been about the young and inexperienced players, however.
Junior Nick Fisher is vying for a starting job at safety next to Laguda, while also practicing some at the Buff back position behind Moeller.
“He hasn’t solidified himself there yet, but he’ll have a chance to be in that role,” Brown said of Fisher earning a starting job.
Another junior, Evan White, is back after a year away from the team, and he, too, is playing safety and Buff back, while also lining up as a nickel back.
“He’s been probably the most pleasant surprise this spring, getting him back from being out of football for a year,” Brown said.
At corner, sophomore Anthony Julmisse is competing with Wigley and Udoffia, while redshirt freshman Ronnie Blackmon is getting reps at nickel.
“Those guys are all freshmen essentially,” Brown said. “They’re learning how to play hard every snap and they’re learning how to come back from a good play and how to come back from a bad play. We’re moving all those guys around inside and out to play nickel and the corner to just get them more reps.”
Wigley, a transfer from Holmes Community College, has proven he belongs in the early going of spring drills.
“He’s making plays,” senior receiver Shay Fields said. “He’s impressed me so far.”
And, then there’s Udoffia, who has done everything in his power to get on the field this year.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre said Udoffia has made a “big jump” from last year, and Brown has been impressed with how Udoffia plays the deep ball and makes plays on the ball on the air.
“I think he’s been a surprise for the coaches who have been here who knew Trey prior to me, but all I know is what I see,” Brown said. “And I see him coming along and I see him developing. Right now he has a chance to get on the field and may push somebody for a starting job.”
Udoffia credits his development to that redshirt year he didn’t want to take.
“I’m actually really happy I redshirted,” he said. “I sat back and watched Ahkello and Chido last year and tried to learn things from them.
“I feel a lot more comfortable with this defense. There’s things I definitely still have to work on, but I’m happy with the position I’m in and I feel like I’ve got a good opportunity.
“I’m really excited. I think I can do a lot.”