When Karl Dorrell was hired as the head coach of the Colorado football team in February, he didn’t demand respect from his players.
He has earned it, however.
On Wednesday, two of the Buffs’ senior leaders said Dorrell has impressed them in the five months he’s been on the job, despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has prevented Dorrell from conducting any practices.
“He didn’t just say, ‘I need you to trust me,’” senior receiver KD Nixon said. “He said, ‘I’m going to earn it.’ That’s just more respectful because you can see that coach Dorrell is really with us.”
Previous head coach Mel Tucker, who was on the job for 15 months, suddenly left the program in February for a bigger paycheck at Michigan State. On Feb. 23, CU hired Dorrell, who knew the players would have some initial reservations.
“Especially the way we were left without a head coach and the way it happened, he knew it was going to be tough for us to trust somebody again,” senior linebacker Nate Landman said. “He kind of just has reassured everything and been there for us whenever we have concerns with open honesty. He’s just been transparent. That goes a long way with a lot of the guys.
“He’s pretty committed to having team meetings and keeping the team together and he checks in with us and we’re able to voice our concerns with him.”
Gearing up to play
Because of the coronavirus, the Pac-12 has canceled non-conference games, and it’s uncertain if any games will be played. CU started voluntary workouts in June, however, and Landman and Nixon both said they are preparing to play.
“Being back in the weight room setting and the workout setting has kind of refueled everybody’s fire back into the season and hearing hopeful things from coach Dorrell – he’s pretty positive there will be a season,” Landman said. “Just keeping the guys rallied on the main goal of winning games and keeping that in the back of the mind that we will have a season and we’re working towards something.”
In June, CU reported four positive COVID-19 tests among student-athletes, but has not reported any numbers since. Landman, however, said players have done a good job with following safety protocols in hopes they will have a season.
“I think players know that we’ve worked too hard and they have a goal of wanting to play this season, so they don’t want to put that in jeopardy by going out and doing unnecessary things,” he said.
Nixon said the players aren’t focusing on the national discussions about the season, but instead staying ready to play.
“I think my team is ready and I know for sure I’m ready,” he said. “We can’t control all those things (being discussed), but we can control keep working out every day, keep staying focused, keep watching film, keep going to class, just doing the little things. That’s what is going to keep us ahead of the game just by doing everything that coach tells us to do.”
On Wednesday, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, a potential first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, announced he will opt out of the college season and prepare for the draft, because of the coronavirus. Landman said the thought of opting out “has not crossed my mind” and indicated he doesn’t know of any CU players considering not playing. … Landman said the work ethic of the true freshman class has been “pretty impressive” this summer. … Outside linebacker Alvin Williams, from Ellenwood, Georgia, graduated high school early and enrolled at CU in January. Landman has been impressed, saying Williams “is a completely different player than he was six months ago.”