At inside linebacker, the Colorado football team returns three veterans with starting experience. At outside linebacker, the Buffs have starter Carson Wells coming back.
Although the starting roles appear to be set, the younger players in those groups continue working for their shot.
“It’s an everyday competition for sure,” inside linebacker Quinn Perry said. “It’s really just refreshing to have everybody competing and trying to up each other every day. It’s also nice in the meeting room to have everybody kind of knowledgeable about the same topics and knowing the defense to the best of our ability. So I’d say it’s going really well so far.”
Seniors Nate Landman and Akil Jones are the returning starters at inside linebacker, while junior Jonathan Van Diest is aiming for more playing time after starting the first five games in 2019.
Perry, a junior who came to CU from El Camino (Calif.) College last year, said he’s continuing to learn from the veterans as he develops his game and prepare to play.
Along with Perry, junior Chase Newman, sophomore Ray Robinson, redshirt freshmen Marvin Ham II and Alec Pell and true freshman Mister Williams are battling for spots on the depth chart.
At outside linebacker, Wells, a junior, is slated to start, while fellow juniors Jamar Montgomery and Guy Thomas appear to be the top backups. Coaches, however, have praised the performance of redshirt freshman Joshka Gustav, as well.
“I probably have more football awareness and I’m more football smart than I was last year,” said Gustav, who is from Hamburg, Germany, and played at Aquinas (Calif.) High School before coming to CU last year. “I’ve also developed physically a little bit more from last year and I just feel more confident in the defense and that enables me to play faster.”
CU is also trying to develop true freshman outside linebackers Devin Grant, Jason Harris and Alvin Williams.
“I think our room is looking really good,” Gustav said. “We have some explosive guys, including our freshmen. They’re doing a great job adjusting to the defense and to the new scheme. Carson Wells, he’s always been a solid player and I really try to scheme my game after him a little bit. I think the whole room has really stepped up over camp and we just keep improving.”
Loyal Buff passes
On Sunday, Buff nation lost one of its most die-hard supporters as Mike Tanner, 67, died after spending the past four weeks in hospice care. Tanner, who battled several health challenges in recent years, suffered some falls in April that caused a serious brain bleed.
A 1971 graduate of Fairview High School, Tanner – affectionately called “Tanman” by his friends – played for legendary Knights coach Sam Pagano and lettered three times. He then studied communications at CU and was a walk-on long snapper under Buffs head coach Bill Mallory in the 1970s.
Tanner got a job selling Coke at CU football games when he was eight years old and that began a lifetime of love for the Buffs. After his playing career, Tanner worked as a graduate assistant for CU head coach Chuck Fairbanks and also did some work for CU head coaches Rick Neuheisel, Gary Barnett and Mike MacIntyre. He also spent some time coaching at Fairview.
Tanner was a long-time friend of many Buffs, including legendary CU head coach Bill McCartney and the late Rashaan Salaam, who won CU’s lone Heisman Trophy in 1994. In recent years, Tanner would often spend Saturdays watching college football with McCartney.
Tanner’s daughter, Cydney, is a recent CU graduate who worked in the sports information department. Tanner and his daughter both helped ESPN on its production of the 30-for-30 series, “The Gospel According to Mac.”
Nico Magri, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound junior from Monarch High School, has recently switched from defensive tackle to tight end. … The Buffs have a day off from full practice on Thursday, but do have meetings and a walk-through scheduled. They will return to the practice field on Friday.