It’s early, but Michael Adkins II is healthy, and that’s a good sign for both the senior running back and the Colorado football team.
While the Buffaloes’ rushing attack is led by senior Phillip Lindsay, who had 1,189 yards and 16 touchdowns in the regular season last year, finding a quality second or third option is important during preseason camp.
Adkins, who has rushed for 1,175 yards in his career, could provide a major boost to the offense if healthy.
“I’ve been excited from what I’ve seen from Michael Adkins,” co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. “He’s always been kind of nicked up and dinged up, and (through the first two practices of preseason camp) he’s been able to go out there and practice fast and catch the ball out of the back field. I’ve been impressed with Mike.”
Adkins was fast out of the gates in 2015, with 209 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games. He injured his hamstring on his first carry of the next game and has run the ball just 11 times for 33 yards in CU’s last 25 games.
Aside from Adkins, the Buffs are depending on Beau Bisharat, a true sophomore who is CU’s biggest back, at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds.
“I’ve been impressed with Beau Bisharat,” Chiaverini said. “He’s learning the offense still, but he’s a big, athletic kid that can run and catch.”
Senior Donovan Lee has become bigger and stronger this offseason, Chiaverini said, while junior Kyle Evans, who finished second among running backs with 346 yards last year, is still out with a hip injury.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre said it’s difficult to truly know how good the backups can be until the Buffs start hitting in practice.
“You really know a lot about running backs when we put the pads on, and we go live in a couple scrimmages we have,” he said.
Still, it’s a group that could excel this season.
“I feel good about our backup running backs; they just have to stay healthy,” MacIntyre said. “I think all of those guys are capable making plays in our league.”
Back of the future?
With three seniors among the six scholarship running backs, the Buffs’ run game could have a new look next year.
Alex Fontenot could play a big role in that, but ideally won’t be on the field this year.
“If all those (veteran running backs) stay healthy, we’ll redshirt Alex Fontenot,” MacIntyre said. “I think that’s pretty obvious. It would be kind of ludicrous for me to play him in a mop-up situation as a redshirt and lose a redshirt.”
The true freshman from Richmond, Texas, is a 6-foot, 190-pound back who has great potential for down the road.
“The kid has got some speed to him and has some natural running ability,” Chiaverini said.
Ready to roll
Frank Umu has spent his two seasons in Boulder preparing for an opportunity to play. That opportunity has arrived, and the redshirt sophomore defensive lineman entered camp prepared.
“Frank’s come (to camp) in really good shape,” MacIntyre said. “This summer watching him do the running, he ran better than he’s ever run. He’s just in great shape, and that’s showing out there. We’ll put pads on (Monday) a little. I’m excited with where Frank is going. It’s his time to start showing and playing.”
Sophomore quarterback Steven Montez and senior center Jonathan Huckins are the only two new starters on offense, but Montez pointed out they worked together on the second unit last year. “Me and Huckins are very familiar with each other,” he said. “I think we mesh and jell really well.” … MacIntyre said true freshman quarterback Tyler Lytle “is getting a ton of reps, and he’s been doing well.” … Chiaverini said senior receiver Kabion Ento “made another big-time play” during Sunday’s practice. … Montez added that true freshman receiver KD Nixon “is playing big” so far in camp.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.