Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
This spring, the Colorado football team is lacking experience at center, but the Buffaloes are pleased with the development being made at that position.
With Jonathan Huckins having graduated and Tim Lynott out with an Achilles injury, the Buffs are without the two players that handled snapping duties a year ago.
That has left redshirt freshman Colby Pursell and junior Brett Tonz handling the bulk of the snaps with the first-team offense.
Offensive line coach Klayton Adams said Pursell and Tonz are both “very talented guys,” and this spring is about getting both of them ready to compete in games.
“My job as their coach is to allow them to grow at that position properly and not put too much on them early,” Adams said. “We’re trying to grow them and we’re trying to develop that position.”
Pursell made a good impression last season, coming in as a grayshirt and earning enough trust from coaches that he traveled with the team early in the season. So far this spring, he’s continuing his progress.
“We think Colby has a good future ahead of him and can snap and understand everything,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “You’ve got to be able to really think there and he’s extremely bright. So far in everything he’s done, he shows he can do that.”
Tonz has shown that, as well, while redshirt freshman Heston Paige and walk-on junior Justin Eggers have worked at center this spring, as well.
Lynott is on track to return in the fall, but where he plays is undecided. In 2016, he started all 14 games at right guard. Last year, he made six starts at right guard and four at center before missing the final two games with his Achilles injury.
Because Lynott is CU’s most experienced center, he’s certainly an option to play there in the fall, but he’s also shown more comfort at guard. Adams would like to avoid bouncing Lynott between the two spots, like the Buffs did last year.
“He’s a guy that when I move him around sometimes I feel like I make him uncomfortable,” Adams said. “I want him to play at the best version of himself that he can give the team.”
As a group, Adams has been pleased with what the offensive line has done to this point in spring practices.
“A couple days in, I feel like the group has a really good work ethic and has a good competitive streak and those are just starting points,” he said. “There’s some signs of good things. We’re a long ways away from where we want to be.”
Wednesday was the second practice in pads, and those the practices that most valuable in grading the line.
“The pad days are very important to see them and then help them,” MacIntyre said. “The fundamentals you’ve been working with on them as an individual, when the heat of the battle really happens to see if they hold to it and be able to correct them and show them how (to do it).”
MacIntyre said it’ll be deeper into spring before the Buffs can really get a feel for how the offensive line is doing, however.
Sophomore Kevin George, who came to CU has a junior college transfer last year and redshirted, is still looking for a permanent home in the secondary.
Recruited as a cornerback, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound George also has the size to play safety.
“He’s kind of big, so we’re trying to figure out the best fit for him and right now we’re leaving him at corner,” MacIntyre said.
During a 7-on-7 period on Wednesday, George had an interception and MacIntyre said, “he’s doing good there.”
Senior safety Jaisen Sanchez had had a rough career at CU, having missed each of the last two season with injuries.
Finally healthy, the Buffs are taking it easy with him this spring, making him a non-contact player in hopes that he can be a contributor in the fall.
“We want to get him the mental reps and he’s getting the mental and the physical, but he’s not in full contact,” safeties coach ShaDon Brown said. “He’s a guy that should be able to help us as a (special) teams guy and be able to contribute somewhere in the lineup as a safety. Hopefully we can get him to the grass in September and play some.”
Sanchez played all 13 games, mostly on special teams in 2015. He played seven defensive snaps that season.
Wednesday was CU’s fourth practice of spring and the first in which they did full speed tackling. “They had fun doing it,” MacIntyre said. … The Buffs practices outside for the first time this spring. MacIntyre said there were good things on both offense and defense from the practice. … CU will take the rest of the week off and return to the field on Monday.