The Colorado spring football game set the stage for how the Buffs are going to build on their 2016 Pac-12 South title. Last season, a key component to Colorado’s success was their strong secondary squad, including cornerbacks like Chidobe Awuzie, Ahkello Witherspoon, and Isaiah Oliver.
While Witherspoon and Awuzie are finished with their collegiate careers and have their eyes set on playing in the NFL, Oliver is a junior and is a likely candidate for a starting cornerback spot this fall. However, that leaves one spot up for grabs, heating up the cornerback competition.
“The cornerback position has been a really great competition all spring and we’ve got seven or eight guys that have been battling,” said cornerbacks coach ShaDon Brown. “Isaiah Oliver is a guy that has played a lot of football here, and he’ll be a returning leader on the secondary. Anthony Julmisse and Trey Udoffia are guys who have made great strides.”
Though it’s evident there will be a fight for the cornerback spot, sophomore Anthony Julmisse is focused more on the team element.
“I don’t really think of it as a competition, I just think about everyone on the secondary getting better together,” Julmisse said.
Julmisse, the 6-foot-1-inch, 190-pound Buff from Plantation, Fla., has a decent shot at gaining the starting position. As a true freshman, Julmisse had some significant contributions to CU’s 10-4 season last year, playing in all 14 games, returning 17 kickoffs for an average of 22.6 yards, and forcing turnovers in his first few games. At the spring game, Julmisse worked to earn the cornerback spot.
“I thought he did a good job competing and communicating today,” Brown said.”He’s got long arms and the ability to make plays on the ball. He played physical and tough today, and that’s the type of player he is.”
Still, claiming the position won’t be an easy feat with the depth chart that CU boasts. Regardless of the competition or not, Julmisse knows that he needs to step up as a leader to fill the void present due to the absence of Awuzie and Witherspoon.
“I want to work on becoming more of a leader,” Julmisse said.”I’m more quiet and laid back, so I don’t really talk that much. I’d like to show everybody what I’m about, and become more vocal.”
Though the future is still uncertain for Julmisse and the other cornerbacks, Buff fans can expect to see him primarily in the cornerback spot. As a freshman last season, Julmisse wore multiple hats, playing on offense, defense, and special teams.
“He’s not going to be a two-way guy this year,” Brown said. “He may do some kick returning, but he won’t be on the offensive side of the ball unless we have some injuries. Right now, he’s solidifying himself as a corner and trying to work on his craft there.”
For Brown and the rest of the CU coaching staff, the choice for the second starting cornerback position is not yet clear, but the extent of talent is a good problem to have as the Buffs seek to build off of “The Rise” of the 2016 season.