Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
The Colorado football team has a boatload of talent at receiver, and because of that, Kabion Ento knows there’s really only one way he’s going to see the field for the Buffaloes.
“Only thing you have to do is come out and make plays because if you don’t, they will,” Ento said.
This spring, Ento has made a habit of producing plays in the CU passing game, standing out among the most talented group on the team.
“That would probably be the first guy that comes to mind when you talk about spring and somebody having a breakthrough performance,” co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said about Ento. “He’s been making plays every day and he’s been really impressive.”
A 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior, Ento is heading into his second season with the Buffs after transferring from East Central (Miss.) Community College a year ago.
Last season, the Buffs relied heavily on the talented foursome of Devin Ross, Shay Fields, Bryce Bobo and Jay MacIntyre, who combined for 189 of the 200 passes caught by receivers (94.5 percent).
All four are back, along with Juwann Winfree (who missed last season with a torn ACL), Lee Walker and Johnny Huntley.
Ento, meanwhile, is taking his game to another level.
A year ago, he was still trying to figure out the Division I game, but made big plays when he did get his hands on the ball, finishing with eight catches for 174 yards (a team-best 21.8 yards per catch average) and two touchdowns.
This spring, Ento is more comfortable as he fights for playing time.
“I’m just staying confident, coming to work every day and competing,” he said. “I feel that I’m adjusted to the competition level now and I’m more confident with what I should be doing in the offense and I know the offense, so I can move faster and I can play faster.”
It may also help him play more if he keeps it up.
“When you make plays, it makes the offense more confident,” he said. “It definitely makes your quarterbacks more confident and it makes the coaches say, ‘Hey we can trust this guy.'”
At quarterback, the Buffs are young and inexperienced, but head coach Mike MacIntyre has been impressed with that group this spring.
Sophomore Steven Montez is the only quarterback with college game experience and he’s on track to start, but redshirt freshman Sam Noyer, true freshman Tyler Lytle and walk-on Casey Marksberry, a redshirt freshman, continue to impress, as well.
“All our quarterbacks are relatively young and I see them taking charge of the huddle and handling different things,” MacIntyre said. “We don’t huddle much, but formations, alignments, getting them lined up, getting them moving fast – handling all of that I think has been good.”
MacIntyre said he put his quarterbacks in tough situations on Monday – including practicing the final play of the game – and said, “I thought they handled that well.”
On defense, MacIntyre said he’s seen several leaders emerge, including linebacker Rick Gamboa, safety Afolabi Laguda and defensive lineman Leo Jackson III.
Linebacker Derek McCartney (knee), Winfree (knee) and offensive lineman Gerrad Kough (ankle) have all missed the spring as they recover from injuries, and MacIntyre said they are all making progress.
“Everything I’ve been told, they’re doing really, really well,” he said.
“It looks like they’re right on track to be back, just like they should be, being able to do stuff this summer and have a good two, two-and-a-half months to be really full-go before we hit.”
MacIntyre added that those players should benefit from the new fall practice schedule, which is more spread out and does not include two-a-days. Coming off injuries, those players would sit out one practice on two-a-days, but now could get extra practice time this fall.
MacIntyre is seeing better results from his kickers lately. “The last three times we put them in live situations, they’ve kicked really, really well, so that’s encouraging to see,” he said. … Saturday’s spring game at Folsom Field will begin at 1 p.m. with drills, with the scrimmage portion scheduled to start at 2 p.m. … The regular season game-day security policies, including the clear bag policy, will be in place for fans on Saturday. … Last Friday, MacIntyre went to Tennessee to attend a coaching clinic at Carson-Newman University, where his close friend and mentor, Ken Sparks, coached for 37 years. Sparks recently retired from Carson-Newman and is in the advanced stages of prostate cancer. The trip gave MacIntyre a chance to honor his mentor and visit with coaching friends, such as Chan Gailey, Fisher DeBerry and Clyde Christensen. “It was an uplifting celebration of his life,” MacIntyre said. “It was also good seeing friends, but it was also a tough situation.”
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.