When Sam Noyer put his name in the NCAA transfer portal last winter, he figured his time with the Colorado Buffaloes was done.
After a coaching change and a few months of pondering his future, Noyer is back – although it’s unclear when he’ll actually be able to compete again because of the coronavirus pandemic pausing football until at least January.
During a virtual press conference Thursday, the fifth-year senior quarterback spoke to reporters for the first time since deciding to rejoin the Buffs in the spring to battle for the starting job.
“I just felt like it was the right opportunity and the right time to compete with Tyler (Lytle) and Brendon (Lewis),” Noyer said.
That was not on his mind last winter, though.
“I had some other schools lined up and, to be honest, I really did not think I would come back to Colorado,” Noyer said.
An Oregon native, Noyer came to CU in 2016 and spent his first three seasons with the Buffs as a backup quarterback, first behind Sefo Liufau and then behind Steven Montez.
A year ago this week, first-year Buffs head coach Mel Tucker approached Noyer about a move to safety. He didn’t have to do it, but Noyer accepted the move and spent the 2019 season on defense.
“Changing positions, at the end of the day, it was my decision,” he said. “I would have played receiver or whatever position.”
After playing just 24 snaps last season, Noyer put his name in the transfer portal, but in mid-February, Tucker bolted for Michigan State.
From there, the pieces began to fall in place for Noyer.
Karl Dorrell was hired as head coach and he retained Darrin Chiaverini, promoting him to offensive coordinator – a role he held during Noyer’s years as quarterback. Then, the Buffs hired Danny Langsdorf as quarterbacks coach.
By early April, Noyer was on his way back – to CU and to the quarterback room.
“Having a relationship with coach Chiaverini and then coach Langsdorf, I think that ultimately was like the deciding factor for me,” Noyer said. “Just knowing that I’d feel comfortable coming back with the same offense that I’ve learned for my first three years at Colorado, that kind of put my mind at ease with making the decision.”
Langsdorf was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Oregon State from 2005-13 and recruited Noyer, who played about 80 minutes away at Beaverton High School.
“I’ve known coach Langsdorf since my junior year of high school,” Noyer said. “He’s an Oregon native and he also worked with my oldest brother at Oregon, so I’ve had a pretty good relationship with him for a while.”
In addition to his comfort with Chiaverini and Langsdorf, Noyer is using the experience he got at safety to help him at quarterback.
“I maintained throwing all last year,” he said. “I didn’t see the minutes that I wanted (on defense), but at the same time, I feel like it really benefited at least myself because I got to learn different techniques and all the little small details about defense.
“I definitely think it’s going to benefit me and I’ve learned a lot from that the past year.”
For now, Noyer’s pursuit of the starting job is on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. With the Pac-12 postponing the fall sports season, the Buffs won’t play this year. They could possibly play games in the spring, but those details haven’t been ironed out, and much of it will depend on the trajectory of the coronavirus.
After a unique ride the past year, though, Noyer is happy to be back at his old position and he’s preparing for whenever games resume.
“I’m very excited to be back playing quarterback, just being back on the offensive side in general,” he said. “It’s a good feeling and where I feel at home.”