Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
Just three practices into his college football career, Jalen Sami is still learning a new level of football
And, at 6-foot-6, 320 pounds, it’s no surprise that on Monday, his first practice in pads, wore him out a bit.
“He got tired today and I was expecting that,” CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said after Monday’s practice, the Buffaloes’ third of spring. “But, he pushed through it. He didn’t quit and he tried to keep going. He’ll get better and better in that area.”
While fatigue did set in for Sami, he’s one of the new Buffs that is turning heads early in spring practices. A true freshman from Vista Ridge High School, Sami grayshirted last season and enrolled at CU last month, hopeful to give the Buffs some depth at nose tackle.
“He’s powerful and strong like we thought,” MacIntyre said. “I’ve been impressed with his ability to bend, his strength and his power and how physical he’s trying to play.”
Senior linebacker Drew Lewis said last week that Sami certainly looks like he can help immediately. Senior Javier Edwards and junior Lyle Tuiloma return after handling most of the snaps at nose tackle last season, but Sami’s emergence could be crucial.
“It definitely helps us the more big bodies that we have,” MacIntyre said. “You can rotate them in.”
Sami wasn’t the only one feeling fatigue on Monday. It was CU’s third practice of the spring and their first with pads, although they didn’t go full contact.
“It was more physical,” MacIntyre said. “Overall, the energy and the attention to detail by everybody was farther ahead than it was at this time last year. The focus there was good. A little sloppy because they got a little tired with the pads on, but that’ll be better (next practice).”
True sophomore KD Nixon is one of the more intriguing players on the team, as he brings a unique set of skills to the offense.
Listed as a receiver, the 5-foot-8, 185-pound Nixon got just five touches on offense last year (three rushes for 20 yards, two catches for 17 yards), but the Buffs are looking to get him a lot more this year.
“KD can do a lot of different things and we’ll just try to find different ways to find him the football and utilize him,” MacIntyre said.
Co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said he’s excited about having Nixon as a weapon, because he can play slot receiver or line up at tailback. He’s also lined up a bit as an outside receiver this spring.
“He’s an athletic kid, he’s got good ball skills, he’s got excellent speed and he’s a smart kid,” Chiaverini said. “You can package some stuff for that kid.”
Another interesting weapon on offense is tight end Darrion Jones.
A transfer from Los Angeles Harbor College, the 6-6, 250-pound Jones is a big, athletic tight end unlike what the Buffs seen in years.
“We threw a lot on his plate,” Chiaverini said. “We have a lot of returning guys and a lot of those guys, they know the offense. Darrion, we’re force-feeding him all spring. He’s a big, athletic kid that can run and catch and we’re going to find ways to get him the ball, but he’s got to learn this stuff and he’s learning it.”
As the new play-caller on offense, Chiaverini said a change for him this spring is scripting the offensive for practice. “Now it’s going to be in my philosophy of how I see the offense,” he said. … Macintyre opened his post-practice media session by congratulating the CU basketball team for its 80-76 win against UCLA on Sunday, completing a season sweep of the Bruins. “They ought to give Tad Boyle a lifetime contract here,” MacIntyre said. … CU is scheduled to be off from practice until Friday.
Contact staff writer Brian Howell at email@example.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.