• Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Mustafa Johnson will be in the mix for a lot of playing time along the defensive line this season.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Jake Moretti will push for a starting role on the offensive line during fall camp.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado quarterback will be competing with Sam Noyer for the backup spot during fall camp.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's K.D. Nixon could see time as a receiver, running back and a returner this season.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Davion Taylor, left, could see time as the BUFF back this season.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado linebacker Nu'umotu Falo looks to make an impact on defense after not being with the team last season.



Key position battles

Running back: Grad transfer Travon McMillian would seem to have the inside track to start, because of his success at Virginia Tech. However, the Buffs also have some returning experience with seniors Kyle Evans and Donovan Lee and junior Beau Bisharat. They also have talented redshirt freshman Alex Fontenot. CU needs to find not only a starter, but two or three options they are confident in using.

Cornerback: Junior Dante Wigley and sophomore Troy Udoffia are both returning starters, but both will have to fight for their jobs this fall. Junior college transfer Delrick Abrams Jr., is one of the most talented newcomers on the roster, and redshirt freshman Chris Miller might be the best corner of the bunch. This foursome will battle throughout the fall.

Defensive line: Returning starters Javier Edwards and Chris Mulumba, both seniors, are likely to start, while senior Jase Franke and junior Lyle Tuiloma will probably be in the rotation. The veterans will be pushed, though. Junior college transfer Mustafa Johnson had a strong spring, redshirt freshman Terrance Lang has been impressive at times since arriving last summer, and true freshman Israel Antwine has already turned some heads with his size and strength.

Offensive line: This is a group that could spend the entire fall camp sorting out the five starting spots. Veterans Josh Kaiser, Tim Lynott, Aaron Haigler and Brett Tonz lead the way, but there’s a talented group of young players — led by redshirt freshmen Jake Moretti and Colby Pursell — that will push for starting roles.

Outside linebacker: It’s a very intriguing group, led by true sophomore Jacob Callier. Junior Nu’umotu Falo, who is back after sitting out last season, brings experience and will push for a starting role. Junior college transfer Alex Tchangam certainly looks the part, but has to prove he can play at this level. Redshirt freshman Carson Wells has exceptional speed and strength and played well in spring.

Backup QB: Junior Steven Montez is the starter, but sophomore Sam Noyer and redshirt freshman Tyler Lytle are set to battle for the No. 2 spot. Noyer, the top backup last year, had a good spring. Lytle played well in the spring game and will certainly push for the job. True freshman Blake Stenstrom could get in the mix, too, with a strong camp and if he picks up the offense quickly.

In the spotlight

Buffs with experience that need to take their game to the next level:

NT Javier Edwards, Sr.: The starting nose tackle last year as a JUCO transfer, Edwards got pushed around a lot. Now in better shape, he’s got to be a rock in the middle of the line.

S Nick Fisher, Sr.: We’ve seen Fisher’s potential for years. He appears to finally be in line to be a full-time starter, where he’ll need to produce consistently.

OT Aaron Haigler, Jr.: A part-time starter the previous two years, Haigler had a great offseason and was voted captain. Buffs need him to be better than ever on game day.

LB Drew Lewis, Sr.: An exceptional athlete, Lewis had a very good year in 2017, but struggled late in the season. He’s got a chance to be the best player on defense if he can be a consistent force.

QB Steven Montez, Jr.: He had a solid year in 2017, but the Buffs need more out of him. Montez has the tools to be one of the best in the Pac-12.

WR Juwann Winfree, Sr.: Last season, he showed glimpses of greatness in his limited time. Now a full-time starter — and under the national radar — Winfree could be a star.

Breakout candidates

A few Buffs who have played sparingly — or not at all — in the past, but could make a big impact.

RB Alex Fontenot, Fr.: A potential breakaway back who is sure to get a lot of carries.

LB Nate Landman, So.: After a great finish to 2017, Landman’s been a beast in the offseason.

CB Chris Miller, Fr.: During spring, he was arguably CU’s best cornerback.

OT Jake Moretti, Fr.: Healthy and ready to roll for fall, Moretti could be CU’s best lineman.

WR K.D. Nixon, So.: Buffs might use him as a receiver, runner and returner.

TE Jared Poplawski, So.: Coming off a knee injury, might be CU’s most complete tight end.

WR Laviska Shenault, So.: Like Winfree, he’s got the potential to be a star this season.

OLB Carson Wells, Fr.: He has the tools to be a force on the edge.

Top newcomers

First-year Buffs who could turn heads in camp and this season:

CB Delrick Abrams Jr., Jr.: Had a strong spring and he’s fighting for a starting job.

DL Israel Antwine, Fr.: At 6-4, 315, he’s already impressing players and staff with his size and strength.

WR Daniel Arias, Fr.: Physically, he’s very impressive, but might not get a chance because of the talented veterans.

RB Travon McMillian, Sr.: Grad transfer rushed for 2,152 yards at Virginia Tech and could start for the Buffs.

BUFF Davion Taylor, Jr.: Exceptional combination of outside linebacker size (6-2, 200) and sprinter speed.

OLB Alex Tchangam, Jr.: Might have the most impressive physique on the team, but has to show he can learn the defense and get to the QB.

Remember me?

CU veterans who haven’t been seen in a while, but could play key roles:

WR Kabion Ento, Sr.: Redshirted last year, but was arguably the most impressive WR during the 2017 offseason. Voted a captain, he could start on the outside.

RB Kyle Evans, Sr.: The No. 2 tailback in 2016, he had just two carries last year after an offseason hip injury. He’ll battle for a starting job.

OLB Nu’umotu Falo, Jr.: Dismissed from the team last summer, he’s back and ready to make an impact on defense.

RB Donovan Lee, Sr.: Like Ento, he redshirted last year. He’s got experience at running back, receiver and kick returner.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.