Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado head football coach Mike MacIntyre has often said that when offensive lineman Isaac Miller is healthy, he has the ability to be special.
Unfortunately for CU and the Silver Creek High School graduate, he’s not healthy and there’s concern about whether he’ll ever be healthy enough to help the Buffaloes on the football field.
In previewing spring practice — which begins Friday — MacIntyre said Thursday that Miller won’t practice this spring, as he continues to deal with knee problems.
Whether Miller, who started six games last year at right tackle, will be ready for fall remains to be seen.
“There is definitely some long-term concern,” MacIntyre said. “We’re not sure on all of that yet, but there definitely is some long-term concerns with his situation.”
A 6-foot-7, 280-pound junior tackle Miller battled knee trouble throughout last season and was in and out of the lineup.
Miller injured his right knee during CU’s spring game on April 9, 2016. It was originally diagnosed as an MCL sprain, but other issues with the knee have caused lingering issues. He missed the entire 2016 season because of his injury and was limited during spring practices last year.
Meanwhile, the update on redshirt freshman lineman Jake Moretti was much better. A four-star prospect from Pomona High School in the 2017 recruiting class, Moretti has had ongoing injury trouble, as well, but will take part in spring on a limited basis as the Buffs ease him into playing shape.
“Mentally and everything, understanding our offense, he’s in good shape,” MacIntyre said. “He’s going to go out there and work and we’ll bring him into individual drills. He’s been doing the weight room and all the agility circuits. It’s going to be a day to day basis, easing him into it. He’s worked extremely hard. And I’m amazed that young man’s work ethic and toughness.”
Originally committed to Ohio State, Moretti has not played since 2015. He missed his senior year at Pomona with a torn ACL. He then graduated early and enrolled at CU in January of 2017, but missed spring ball as he continued to recover. More injury trouble kept him out of games and practice last season, as well.
With Miller and junior Tim Lynott — who continues to recover from a torn Achilles tendon — missing the spring and Moretti easing back into action, the Buffs will be shorthanded on the offensive line this spring. New signee Kanan Ray will also be out this spring as he recovers from a knee injury.
“That bumps up those other offensive linemen,” MacIntyre said. “Some of those (redshirt) freshmen will get more reps and more opportunities, which will be good.”
In addition to having some linemen out this spring, the Buffs will be without safety Aaron Maddox, tight end Jared Poplawski and linebacker Jonathan Van Diest. Safety Ray Robinson and receiver Jaylon Jackson are likely to be limited as they recover from injuries.
Despite some injuries, MacIntyre said the Buffs “have enough guys to practice well” this spring.
Every position on the field will have some competition this spring, but MacIntyre said he’s eager to see the young offensive linemen and defensive linemen on the field this spring.
He also said he’ll be watching the secondary, where the Buffs have some big holes to fill. Redshirt freshman cornerback Chris Miller is one young player that could step up in the secondary.
“There’s a little bit at every position I’m anxious to see,” he said.
MacIntyre added, “The overall theme is we’re trying to be more self-disciplined and more team-oriented at each position.”
MacIntyre is looking for junior quarterback Steven Montez to take the next step this spring.
“Steven having another spring under his belt will be a big benefit, and going through last fall when he was in there all the time I think really helps him understand the important of every snap …,” MacIntyre said.
This is also a big spring for sophomore Sam Noyer and redshirt freshman Tyler Lytle.
“All of those guys need to take a step,” MacIntyre said. “They’re one play away from being in the game.”
MacIntyre said nose tackle Javier Edwards is working hard to get better and more in shape. “He’s going to need to keep improving that to play as much as he wants to play,” MacIntyre said. … Asked about former CU running back Phillip Lindsay not getting an invitation to the NFL scouting combine, MacIntyre said, “Somebody is going to take him and he’ll do well.” He said that probably every NFL team has called him about Lindsay. … In addition to the March 17 spring showcase, the Buffs will have open practices on March 9 and March 21.