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CU Buffs OL Colby Pursell striving for improvement

Junior off to good start in Colorado football practices

Colorado junior Colby Pursell has started 17 games on the offensive line the past two seasons. He's expected to start at center this season.
CU Athletics
Colorado junior Colby Pursell has started 17 games on the offensive line the past two seasons. He’s expected to start at center this season.

Colorado’s athletic facilities weren’t open, and in many places, neither were local gyms.

Luckily for Colby Pursell, Home Depot was open.

After CU athletes were sent home in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, many of them had to find unique ways to stay in shape.

Pursell, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound center/guard from Valencia, California, bought some wood, cement and pipes at Home Depot and built himself a weight set.

CU Athletics
Colorado center Colby Pursell snaps the ball to quarterback Sam Noyer during practice Tuesday.

“I was doing some creative stuff,” he said Tuesday after the Buffs’ fifth practice of preseason camp. “I ended up making my own squat rack, my own bench and stuff like that. I got the big water jugs, 5-gallon water jugs; I was using those for things. I got cinder blocks so I could lift and do front lateral raises on my own. It was definitely a creative year.

“You just have to kind of figure stuff out – doing pull-ups on trees or doing it from the beams in the garage and stuff like that. It was definitely creative, doing the best we can given the circumstances.”

With the start of the football season finally on the horizon and preseason practices underway, Pursell is seeing the hard work pay off.

“Colby is off to a great start,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “He’s taking great care of himself. He spent a lot of time this offseason really getting himself in great shape.”

Entering his fourth season with the Buffs, Pursell has always been relentless in his efforts to get better, and it’s no surprise that he found a way to stay motivated while being away from Boulder and the team for a few months.

“I was my own coach for something that I had to push myself,” he said. “I had to get creative and I had to exercise discipline in order to be the best player that I can be. It certainly made me appreciate what we have here more.

“The garage was where I worked. That’s where I tried to become the best player that I could.”

Pursell has been a good player for the Buffs the past two years. He started all 12 games at center in 2018. Last year, he moved to right guard and played well when healthy but was limited to seven games (five starts) after having his gallbladder removed in the middle of the season.

“I feel great,” said Pursell, who had the surgery almost exactly a year ago. “It’s a huge relief for me. It wasn’t great there towards the end last year before I got it out. Having that out is a game changer for me, as more than just an athlete, but as a person in general and just my general health. That was huge for me.”

Healthy again, Pursell is slated to start at center, although Dorrell said he’s staying ready at guard, too.

“He’s kind of a steady Eddy for us,” Dorrell said. “It doesn’t matter what level, (offensive linemen) play more than one position. He’s playing the guard position and the center position.”

To keep Pursell healthy, Dorrell said the staff is trying not to overload him during practice and giving him fewer repetitions then younger players who don’t have the same amount of experience.

“We have to manage him so that he is healthy and can sustain these six games,” Dorrell said. “I couldn’t ask anything more of him. He’s doing everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s been a great leader. He’s really doing a nice job for us.”

One of the most experienced players on the offensive line – his 17 career starts ranks second to tackle William Sherman’s 21 – Pursell isn’t relying on what he’s done in the past. He’s played well in his career, but he spent all that time and money at Home Depot to get even better.

“We have to find the best combination (of linemen),” he said. “If you aren’t executing now and working well with others now, it doesn’t do us much good if you were good last year. We have to be ready for this year.

“If there’s a new guy who can execute now and is just dominant and having an awesome camp, he’s probably going to get more playing time. That’s how football goes. We have to find the best five possible.”

Pursell is doing his best to make sure he’s one of them.