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Colorado head football coach Mike MacIntyre took pride in watching four of his former players selected in the NFL draft last weekend.
It’s another sign of progress for a program that was in rough shape when MacIntyre was hired in December of 2012.
On the heels of a resurgent season, the Pac-12 South champion Buffs (10-4, 8-1 Pac-12) had defensive backs Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson and Ahkello Witherspoon and defensive tackle Jordan Carrell drafted after having no players selected in the previous two drafts.
“All of our guys going is really exciting for them and also for our program,” MacIntyre said Monday on a teleconference with Pac-12 coaches. “I think it just shows you that we evaluate pretty well, I think, in the way we evaluate talent in recruiting. None of those were big-time stars (coming out of high school) and they all ended up getting drafted and they’ll play for a while.”
After the draft, six other players have either signed a free agent deal or received a mini-camp invitation from NFL teams. MacIntyre hopes this is just the start of sending players to the NFL each year.
“I’m excited about where we’re headed and we’ll have more guys every year getting drafted and be able to build our program in the right direction,” said MacIntyre, who attended the draft in Philadelphia with Awuzie and his family.
Draft weekend was also big for Utah, which had a conference-best eight players selected, led by offensive tackle Garett Bolles, who was the first-round selection of the Denver Broncos, at No. 20 overall.
Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham said of Bolles: “I thought he probably should have gone a little higher, but I think he is in a good situation and I think he’ll flourish in the Denver organization.”
Next step for Utes?
Entering the seventh season with CU and Utah in the conference, Utah is the only team in the Pac-12 South that has yet to win the division and play in the conference title game.
Whittingham said he believes better play at quarterback is necessary for the Utes to get there.
“We have got to be able to throw the ball more productively and more efficiently,” Whittingham said. “That is, in my estimation, the thing that has kept us from being able to get over the hump. The Achilles’ heel is throwing the football.”
Lynch progressing at UCLA
Former Legacy High School quarterback Matt Lynch is entering his redshirt freshman year at UCLA and will go into fall battling for the backup job.
While junior Josh Rosen is entrenched as the starter, Lynch has made a strong impression at UCLA, head coach Jim Mora said.
“He’s a guy that you would like to find a role for, whether it was in a situation where you put him in there because of his mobility and you ran sort of a wildcat version with a guy like him who can run,” Mora said. “Or even crazy things, because of his toughness and speed, use him on kickoff coverage or special teams at times, which is not unheard of in college football.
“He’s just a great kid and he adds a ton to this program. Our staff and our players really respect Matt.”
Other notables from the teleconference
• MacIntyre said receiver Juwann Winfree (knee), outside linebacker Derek McCartney (knee) and running back Donovan Lee (leg) are expected to be ready to go when fall camp opens on July 28. Running back Kyle Evans (hip) is doing “really well” and the Buffs hope he’s back this fall, as well.
• Oregon head coach Willie Taggart said that based on the Ducks’ spring game, sophomore Justin Herbert would be atop the depth chart at quarterback, but the competition for the top spot will go into the fall.
• Third-year Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen was pleased with how the Beavers (4-8, 3-6) increased their competitiveness in the Pac-12 last season. To close the gap even more, he said the key for OSU is “throwing the ball and scoring points. Period. We have to be able to throw the ball more effectively.”
• USC head coach Clay Helton said redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold has developed his knowledge of the game (ID’ing coverages, etc.) and improved his leadership this offseason. Darnold is considered one of the front-runners for the Heisman Trophy and viewed by some as the potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.