DENVER – Eight days before the season opener, the Colorado football team released its first depth chart of the fall on Thursday.
There were few surprises among the two-deep chart, which shows which players the coaching staff will be keying on in preparation for the Aug. 30 opener against Colorado State.
Some of the key battles decided (at least for now) include:
- Senior Tim Lynott was tabbed as the starting center, with sophomore Colby Pursell at right guard. Last year, Pursell started all 12 games at center and Lynott nine games at guard. On the left side, Kary Kutsch won the job at guard.
- Graduate transfer Mikial Onu will start at free safety – as expected – while junior Aaron Maddox has won the starting job at strong safety.
- Sophomore Brady Russell is the lead tight end over graduate transfer Jalen Harris, but both will be on the field – often together.
- Sophomore Alex Fontenot tops the chart at running back, followed by true freshman Jaren Mangham and redshirt freshman Deion Smith.
- Freshman Dimitri Stanley is listed as the main punt returner, while junior KD Nixon tops the depth chart at kickoff returner.
Lynott has 33 career starts, but only four at center. He has spent much of the offseason at center, however.
“He’s very decisive,” Tucker said Thursday during a media event at Blake Street Tavern in Denver. “He’s tough, mentally and physically. That’s what you want right in the middle of your offense. It all really starts with him; not just carrying out his assignment, but making the guys next to him better by making the right calls. Being decisive, playing fast and those are all things that he has done. He has position flexibility, obviously, but we feel really good about him at that spot.”
While the Buffs have figured out a depth chart and a scout team, Tucker reminded all the players that the list is not set in stone. He gave them the example of a true freshman defensive lineman at Georgia last year who began the year on the scout team and wound up becoming a starter.
“One of the things that you have to guard against is once you start to get into the game planning and you start to have your starters and backups and guys have to go to the scout team and give the opponent look, you have to make sure you don’t lose those guys,” Tucker said.
Changes in attitude
CU quarterback Steven Montez joined Tucker at the event in Denver, which included players and coaches from Air Force, Colorado State, Northern Colorado and Mines.
Montez was asked about the difference between playing for Tucker as opposed to former head coach Mike MacIntyre.
“The intensity level has just been ramped up,” Montez said. “His attitude and his demeanor is really infectious to the whole team. Everybody just kind of feeds off of it. We go to practice every day with a certain mindset that we’re going to be physical and we’re going to outwork everybody else that’s practicing at the point we’re practicing.
“He brings that aura around the team. We love it. We can’t get enough of it.”
Shenault racking up … sacks?
CU receiver Laviska Shenault is one of the best in the country and proved his versatility last year. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and blazing speed, he’s got a set of skills that are unique, Tucker said.
“His skill set is something that I’m not sure that I’ve seen, Tucker said. “I haven’t been on staff that’s had a receiver that has that particular skill set. I always tease him and say, ‘I’m going to move you to outside backer and you’re going to play both ways, and I can get you 10 sacks this year. How high do you think you’ll get drafted with 100 catches and 10 sacks?’
“He really brings to the table the total package, off the field and on the field. You can go your entire career and not have an opportunity to see a guy like that, let alone catch them.”
In favor of in-state
CSU head coach Mike Bobo said he’s disappointed to see the Rocky Mountain Showdown against the Buffs coming to an end after the 2020 matchup in Fort Collins. From 2021-28, the Buffs and Rams will play just twice.
“We need to play every year,” Bobo said. “In-state team, it’s a rivalry game, it’s cost-efficient. I wish we played CU, Air Force, Northern Colorado every year, to get more people engaged in football and coming to games.”
Bobo, of course, would love to actually beat the Buffs, as he is 0-4 against them.
“I know in rivalry games we have not done well at all since I’ve been the head coach and we have not beat CU in the Rocky Mountain Showdown,” he said. “I know it matters to everybody who is a Colorado State alumni or fan. My job is go out there and make sure our team is ready to play and put a good product on the field.”
Tucker said he will likely name the three captains for the CSU game on Sunday. … Sophomore Jonathan Van Diest, who has battled a minor ankle injury since Saturday, has been tabbed as a starter at inside linebacker.