Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
As a 210-pound true freshman last year, Carson Wells flashed his potential to be a play-maker at outside linebacker for the Colorado Buffaloes.
Now a 250-pound redshirt freshman, Wells is getting closer to realizing his potential.
One of several young Buffs that have made significant strides in the past year, Wells is currently fighting for a starting role.
“It’s a lot better than last year,” he said of his second camp with the Buffs. “This year I have a better feel for the defense and what we’re doing and I know what the guys around me are doing and not just what I’m doing.”
Wells also has a body better suited for helping the defense.
Coming out of high school, Wells displayed impressive speed for his size and position, but has now added strength to his 6-foot-4 frame.
“I’ve put on about 40 pounds since last year and I feel good,” he said. “It’s mostly muscle. I’m feeling good and still feel like I have all my speed.”
CU had just 19 sacks last year — down from 36 in 2016 — and needs a better pass rush from the outside. Wells is doing his part, as he rotates with junior Nu’umotu Falo and sophomore Jacob Callier with the first team in camp.
“He made some nice plays today, doing a good job of pass rushing,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said Thursday. “Carson is coming on and doing good on special teams. He’s getting better and better.”
As a pass rusher, there’s a big difference between Wells at 210 and now at 250.
“I’ve had to change my pass rush around a lot, because at 210 I couldn’t really use power moves on the offensive line,” he said. “I’ve had to add some new moves and (defensive coordinator D.J.) Eliot has been working with me.
“Adding all the muscle, I became a little stiff, so I’m trying to get some more flexibility. Every day I’m trying to get better.”
Wells said he’s worked a lot with Callier to learn better pass rushing moves and he likes his added weight.
“Honestly for me it’s easier,” he said. “If you’re 250, I feel like you can hold your own better.”
MacIntyre likes it better, too.
“He’s still got the quickness and speed, but he’s got more power,” MacIntyre said. “He can squeeze the pocket, he can make the quarterback uncomfortable, he can knock hands down. He can stymie the end.”
Antwine making noise
When asked about the new redshirt rule in college football — which allows players to participate in four games and keep the redshirt — MacIntyre has often said that if freshmen are good enough to get on the field, they will.
Defensive lineman Israel Antwine is good enough, and the redshirt rule may not apply to the true freshman. The way the 6-foot-4, 315-pounder is playing in camp, he’ll play in a lot more than four games.
“He’s doing really well,” MacIntyre said. “He’s physically ready to play and he’s picking it up. Unless there’s some unforeseen setback, he’s on target to play and play a lot.”
In addition to being big, Antwine has great power and plays with a low pad level, MacIntyre said. That allows him to make more plays in the trenches and not get pushed back.
“Most high school kids don’t (play with low pads), on defense especially,” MacIntyre said. “I’ve been really impressed with him. He’s a freshman, but he looks pretty good so far.”
True freshman Frank Fillip has missed several practices with an ankle injury, but at 6-7, 280, he’s impressive. “He’s ready physically,” MacIntyre said. “We’ll get him back out there in the next day or two and see what he looks like.” … True freshman defensive lineman Tava Finau has also missed several practices with an ankle injury. … CU has gone back to using the “Uncommon” jerseys at practice. It’s something the Buffs used to do and the captains wanted to bring it back. They are gold jerseys that are given to one offensive and one defensive player each day. MacIntyre selects the players based on their “effort and hustle” of the previous practice. On Thursday, nose tackle Javier Edwards and guard Tim Lynott wore the jerseys. … MacIntyre said Thursday’s session in the heat was “a good, physical practice.” He added that kicker James Stefanou made a 56-yard field goal during a two-minute situation.