Skip to content
  • Senior running back Kyle Evans, a former walk-on, has 400...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Senior running back Kyle Evans, a former walk-on, has 400 rushing yards during his career at Colorado.

  • Redshirt freshman Alex Fontenot could be a big factor in...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Redshirt freshman Alex Fontenot could be a big factor in CU's running attack this fall.

  • Junior Beau Bisharat had 21 carries for 61 yards last...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Junior Beau Bisharat had 21 carries for 61 yards last season for Colorado.



As Phillip Lindsay continues to impress his new teammates with the Denver Broncos this offseason, the Colorado Buffaloes continue to field questions about how they’re going to replace the dynamic running back.

For being just 5-feet, 8 inches tall, Lindsay sure did leave some big shoes to fill.

Leading up to fall camp, which starts Thursday, is previewing each position group for the Buffs. In this final installment, we take a look at the running backs, which may take a committee approach to replacing one of the best players ever to wear a CU uniform.

CU’s unofficial all-time leader in state pride and passion, Lindsay left CU with the most yards from scrimmage (4,683) and all-purpose yards (5,760) in program history, while finishing second in career rushing yards (3,707). He also caught 110 career passes – the only running back in CU history to hit the century mark.

A year ago, Lindsay had a CU-record 301 rushing attempts, compiling 1,474 yards and 14 touchdowns.

What do the Buffs have left?

Well, among their top four returning rushers from last year, one is quarterback Steven Montez and two are receivers: K.D. Nixon and Laviska Shenault. While Lindsay had 301 carries, the rest of the running backs combined for 34 carries, 88 yards and no touchdowns.

That doesn’t mean the Buffs don’t have talent at running back, however.

“I like the group,” co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. “I think there’s a lot of ability there. Is there a lot of inexperience? Yes.”

The bulk of the experience comes from senior Travon McMillian, a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech. In three years with the Hokies, he had 2,152 yards and 16 touchdowns. He ran for 1,042 yards as a freshman in 2015, but his touches and production decreased every year.

At 6-0, 210, McMillian has ideal size and the Buffs are excited to see what he can do. Still, Chiaverini said, “Travon has to learn the offense and he has to show that he knows what he’s doing.”

Senior Kyle Evans enters fall atop the “pencil” depth chart released by CU last week. The former walk-on has 400 career yards, most of it coming in 2016, when he had 84 carries for 346 yards and three touchdowns as Lindsay’s primary backup.

Evans spent most of the 2017 offseason recovering from a hip injury and he had just two carries last season. He was impressive during spring, however.

“I was really pleased with him after spring football and I’m excited to see him in fall camp,” Chiaverini said.

Redshirt freshman Alex Fontenot may be the best of the bunch, but he has yet to play in a college game and must prove himself during camp.

“Fontenot is someone that flashed every time he was in there (in spring),” Chiaverini said. “He’s just a young player that hasn’t played yet and he has to continue to learn the offense and learn the protections, and in the pass game he’s got to get himself in there, as well.”

The top returning back is junior Beau Bisharat. Used mainly as a blocker and in short-yardage situations last year, he had 21 carries for 61 yards. He could be in the same type of role this year, although he’s pushing to have a bigger impact.

Senior Donovan Lee is another intriguing option. He redshirted last year, but has 422 yards in his career, along with 46 catches for 244 yards.

True freshmen Jarek Broussard and Deion Smith join the group this fall, as well. They’re both talented players who could push for playing time.

There may not be a Phillip Lindsay in the mix, but the Buffs like the talent.

“We have some good running backs that we’re excited about,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “We’ll see what happens in fall camp and go from there.”


Position: Running backs

Returners (2017 statistics)

Beau Bisharat, Jr., 6-2, 225 (21 att., 61 yards; 1 catch, 6 yards)

Kyle Evans, Sr., 5-7, 180 (2 att., 2 yards; 1 catch, 6 yards)

Donovan Lee, Sr., 5-10, 190 (redshirted in 2017; 28 att., 97 yards in 2016)

Chase Sanders, So., 6-0, 190 (walk-on)


Jarek Broussard, Fr., 5-9, 175 (true freshman)

Alex Fontenot, Fr., 6-0, 195 (redshirted in 2017)

Travon McMillian, Sr., 6-0, 210 (transfer from Virginia Tech)

Deion Smith, Fr., 6-0, 180 (true freshman)

Noa Lukela, Fr., 5-11, 200 (walk-on; redshirted in 2017)

J.T. Murphy, Fr., 5-10, 175 (walk-on)


Michael Adkins II (graduated; 11 att., 25 yards)

Phillip Lindsay (graduated; 301 att., 1,474 yards, 14 TD; 23 catches, 257 yards, 1 TD)

Tanner Grzesiek (graduated; walk-on)

Riley Hillis (walk-on; no longer with team)

2017 recap: This position was all about Phillip Lindsay last year. The dynamic back was the premier weapon on offense and he handled the bulk of the run game. Among running backs, he had 90 percent of the carries (301 of 335) and 94 percent of the yards (1,474 of 1,562). Lindsay had five 100-yard games and scored touchdowns in 10 of 12 games. After Lindsay, Beau Bisharat was the next option, although he was used primarily in short-yardage situations. Against Arizona – a game in which Lindsay had CU-record 41 carries – Bisharat had a career-high eight rushes for 32 yards to give him a breather. He had just 13 carries for 29 yards in the other 11 games combined, however.

2018 outlook: In replacing Lindsay, the Buffs have several interesting options, including Virginia Tech transfer Travon McMillian. Although one of the Hokies’ top running backs the past three years, McMillian was in a time-share situation the last two years. He’ll come into fall camp determined to take the featured role. Senior Kyle Evans – the top backup in 2016 – and freshman Alex Fontenot both played well in spring and will push McMillian for that lead role. Bisharat will aim for a bigger role, as well, but might be the short-yardage option. Senior Donovan Lee brings a different dynamic, as well, with experience at receiver and running back. Freshmen Jarek Broussard and Deion Smith are both talented and could be, if nothing else, beneficiaries of the NCAA’s new rule that allows redshirts to play in up to four games.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or


Join the Conversation

We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.