In going through the process of establishing his foundation for the Colorado football program, first-year head coach Mel Tucker figured there would be some players who didn’t share his vision.
After Tucker was hired in December, a few players decided to move on. After spring, a few others said goodbye. And, this week, three more have left the team.
On Tuesday, Tucker announced that backup outside linebacker Jacob Callier will no longer play for the Buffs.
“It was just not working out for him here with us, so he’s no longer with us,” Tucker said.
Just one day earlier, it was revealed that safety Aaron Maddox, who started the first three games, and reserve tight end Darrion Jones had decided to use their redshirt year and enter the NCAA transfer portal.
Callier, who redshirted in 2018, has not entered the portal yet, but his time with the Buffs is done. He played in three games this season, recording one tackle in 22 snaps.
Maddox, who returned from injury to play 31 snaps off the bench at Oregon on Oct. 11, went through practices with the Buffs last week and was scheduled to travel with the team to Washington State last Saturday. Prior to the Buffs’ leaving for that trip, however, Maddox told Tucker he wanted to redshirt.
“He expressed an interest to redshirt and I couldn’t guarantee him that, so consequently he’s in the portal,” Tucker said. “Same thing with Darrion Jones.”
Last winter, a handful of players either transferred or decided to graduate and forego their senior year. After spring, the Buffs dismissed safety Hasaan Hypolite for violating team rules, had six players transfer and two offensive linemen medically retire.
“We’ve parted ways with, I think 13 or 14 guys since I got here December 5 … for various reasons,” Tucker said. “And that’s part of (college football). I wish those guys well. It’s not personal. Everyone wants to make decisions they think are the best for them and I respect that totally.”
Sometimes with a new regime, there can be division in the locker room between those recruited by the former coach and those brought in by the new coach. Tucker said he doesn’t see that with the Buffs.
“First, they’re all my guys,” he said. “They’re all our guys. I told them that from day one, whether I recruited you or not, we’re gonna love you up. I’m going to run through a wall for you and that’s the way it’s going to be. So I don’t think we’ve had that type of issue with new guys versus guys who were here before. We’re all in the same boat.”
Run game getting on track
Led by sophomore running back Alex Fontenot, the Buffs’ ground game has been improving each of the past few games.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve been able to run the football and that’s good,” Tucker said. “We’ve wanted to do that. We’ve been running the ball efficiently.”
Fontenot had 105 yards on 11 carries last week against Washington State and he now has 568 yards on the season. He has averaged 4.98 yards per carry while showing the ability to gain yards after contact.
“You can work on it but that’s just something that’s all mentality,” he said. “You have to have the mentality that, ‘I’m not going to let just one person get me down.’”
While Fontenot has been the leader, Jaren Mangham (281 yards) has been a good No. 2, with Deion Smith (61 yards on 18 carries) getting into the mix lately.
“I feel like things are starting to even out and everybody is kind of set in their spot,” Fontenot said. “We pretty much have the rotation down, so it’s going pretty good.”
The Buffs had officials work practice on Tuesday, with hopes that it would be a learning tool to reduce the penalties. The Buffs have been flagged 29 times in the past three games. … CU has had 14 true freshmen play this year. That’s the program’s second-highest total since 1984. In 2011, 15 played. … Friday will be the 14th all-time meeting between CU and USC and just third time that neither team is nationally ranked, although that does count 1927, which predated the Associated Press poll (which began in 1936). In the poll era, the only other time both teams were unranked was 2015.