Buffs shifting veteran defensive lineman Eddy Lopez to tight end

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado defensive lineman Eddy Lopez, left,

At 6-foot-2, 280 pounds, senior George Frazier is exactly the type of big, strong tight end Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre likes to use as a blocker in the Buffaloes’ run game.

Frazier has been the only tight end on the CU roster that fits that mold, however, so MacIntyre looked to the other side of the ball to find another.

Defensive tackle Eddy Lopez is shifting to tight end this offseason. It’s a move that not only helps the team, but should provide Lopez a better opportunity to contribute.

“We’ll experiment with that early in fall camp and I hope it works out,” MacIntyre said.

A fourth-year junior, Lopez was listed at 6-3, 315 pounds this spring, but MacIntyre hopes Lopez will get to around 280 when preseason camp opens on July 28.

While Lopez was a solid contributor off the bench as a true freshman in 2014 (10 tackles in 123 snaps), when the Buffs ran a 4-3 defensive scheme, he has not fit into the 3-4 scheme that the Buffs began using in 2015.

Lopez played 21 snaps in the first three games of the 2015 season before missing the rest of the season with a foot injury. He was healthy last season, but never played, and was behind several others on the depth chart this spring.

Knowing that Lopez played fullback and tight end a bit in high school, MacIntyre approached him about the shift after spring practices ended last month.

“We talked about it to try to help the team and he wants to do that,” MacIntyre said.

Unlike Frazier, who is now splitting time between tight end and defensive line, Lopez will go into the summer and fall as a full-time tight end.

“That would give us a little bit (of help) in the goal line area, short-yardage area and that type of thing,” MacIntyre said. “He’s going to help us in some of those packages. He’s athletic and can actually run routes. He’ll find a little niche to help us. He’s a good athlete.”

CU’s other tight ends are junior Dylan Keeney (6-6, 230), sophomore Chris Bounds (6-4, 245) and true freshman Jared Poplawski (6-4, 220).

When asked about other position changes on the roster, MacIntyre said he is considering a couple others, but has not made any final decisions.

Evans, Lee on right track

Running backs Kyle Evans and Donovan Lee are both doing well after suffering serious injuries during spring drills.

Evans dislocated his hip on March 10 and is three weeks ahead of schedule in his rehab work, MacIntyre said. Although rehab is going well, MacIntyre doesn’t know when Evans will be able to return.

Lee fractured his fibula on March 15 and is also ahead of schedule.

“He’ll be definitely ready to go (for fall camp),” MacIntyre said.

Lee, who practiced this spring at cornerback before Evans’ injury, might return to defense if Evans is healthy. If Evans is not ready, Lee would “definitely stay at running back,” MacIntyre said.

With seniors Phillip Lindsay and Michael Adkins II, sophomore Beau Bisharat and incoming freshman Alex Fontenot also at running back, MacIntyre said the Buffs like their depth and talent at the position and there are no plans to move anyone else to the backfield.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.