Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
John Leyba / The Denver Post
Just one year ago, Trey Udoffia was still adjusting to college football and learning how to become a contributor for the Colorado Buffaloes.
Now, he’s learning how to be a leader at his position.
In the past two years, Colorado has sent four cornerbacks to the National Football League, and that has left Udoffia as one of the most experienced players in the secondary as he enters his redshirt sophomore year.
“It’s a lot different,” he said. “The past two years, there’s been great corners ahead of us and we’ve been learning. Now it’s our turn to step it up. We have to turn into those great corners and show the young guys what you have to do.”
Udoffia and junior Dante Wigley, who came to CU a year ago as a junior college transfer, came into this spring as CU’s veterans at corner. Both started seven games a year ago, mostly opposite of Isaiah Oliver, who decided to forego his senior year and enter the NFL draft.
For Udoffia, the 2017 season was loaded with learning experiences. He won the starting job going into the season, then missed two games with an injury. When he returned, he had slipped behind Wigley on the depth chart, but did make a pair of starts when Oliver went out with an injury.
“It’s a lot faster pace,” he said of what he learned in his first year playing at the college level. “People can tell you it’s faster, but you don’t really realize it until you’re there. It really comes down to the small things. High school you can just play and use your athletic ability. Everyone is so athletic at this level you just really have to get your technique down. I just have to really improve my technique for the season.”
Udoffia said getting different perspectives on the season, and talking frequently with Wigley throughout the year, helped his development. The two constantly compared notes when they’d come off the field.
“Now it’s me and Dante as the returners and everyone else battling for a spot,” he said. “Me and him, we do a lot together, so we have a good bond going. I think we’re going to be a good core (at cornerback).”
While Udoffia and Wigley have the most experience, the Buffs have talent to challenge them for playing time.
Junior Delrick Abrams, a junior college transfer, has already impressed teammates.
“Oh yeah, Delrick is really good,” Udoffia said. “We’ve been working with him to get the playbook down because once you get the playbook down you can play as yourself. He’s going to be really good.”
There’s also high hopes for redshirt freshman Chris Miller. Udoffia said Miller is “really physical” and has played confident this spring.
Sophomores Ronnie Blackmon and Derrion Rakestraw are also competing this spring, adding to the talented, but unproven depth.
“Everyone wants to see each other succeed,” Udoffia said. “That type of thing is going to push each other even more.”
The addition of new cornerbacks coach Ashley Ambrose has added another jolt to the group, too, and Udoffia is eager to continue his progression.
“I’m enjoying my time so far,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the spring.”