Sophomore tailback Jarek Broussard was routinely praised by Colorado coaches and players during the past few weeks as the Buffaloes went through preseason camp.
It appears Broussard was impressive enough to earn his first career start.
On Monday, the Buffs released their depth chart for Saturday’s opener against UCLA (5 p.m., TV: ESPN2), and it included Broussard as the No.1 tailback.
Last year’s leading rusher, junior Alex Fontenot, is on the injury list with an undisclosed injury, and Broussard appears to have earned the right to take the first snaps against the Bruins.
Now in his third year with the Buffs, Broussard has yet to play a game at CU, as he redshirted in 2018 and missed the 2019 season with a knee injury. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound sophomore from Dallas flashed skills in practice, however, that reminded running backs coach Darian Hagan of former CU star Rodney Stewart – the third-leading rusher in program history.
“Broussard has come a long way,” Hagan said last week. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence. He knows exactly what he’s doing. And he brings a different element to the game. He’s a real jitterbug. He’s a guy that he can take it to the house, he can make guys miss in the open field. That’s the guy that we’ve been missing. We’ve been missing a back like that.”
Fontenot rushed for 874 yards and five touchdowns last season, while Jaren Mangham added 441 yards and three touchdowns. Now a sophomore, Mangham is listed second on the depth chart, with sophomore Joe Davis third and true freshmen Ashaad Clayton and Jayle Stacks fourth and fifth, respectively.
“I think I’m comfortable playing everybody and that’s what everybody wants to hear,” Hagan said. “They want an opportunity and I’m going to try to make sure that that happens.”
Aside from tailback, the biggest change on the depth chart from pre-camp to now is in the secondary.
True freshman Christian Gonzalez has pushed his way to a starting role at left cornerback, while the projected starter at that spot, sophomore KJ Trujillo, is now listed as a backup to Mark Perry at strong safety.
Junior Mekhi Blackmon came into camp listed as the starter at right cornerback and remains in that spot.
Junior safety Isaiah Lewis is positioned as the No. 2 free safety, behind senior Derrion Rakestraw. Lewis is also listed as the No. 1 nickelback.
On Monday, the Pac-12 announced that CU’s game at Stanford on Nov. 14 will be slated for a 1:30 p.m. MST kickoff time. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 or ESPNU.
Around the Pac-12 that weekend, Utah will visit UCLA on Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. MST and Oregon State will play at Washington on Nov. 14 at 9 p.m. MST. Both games will be broadcast on FS1.
Three other Pac-12 games – California at Arizona State, Oregon at Washington State and USC at Arizona – are subject to a six-day selection by conference TV partners. Their game will be announced by Sunday.
On Sunday, the Buffaloes checked out of the Millennium Harvest House hotel, where they had spent the previous three weeks. CU players stayed at the hotel to try to prevent COVID-19 cases among the team during preseason camp.
Sophomore safety Mark Perry said it was nice to go home on Sunday, but the experience was good for the team.
“Yeah, actually (it was),” he said. “Personally I feel I got a lot closer with a lot of guys. I was in Christian Gonzalez’s room every day playing Madden. Christian is kind of a quieter guy, so we got closer being in the bubble.
“But it’s all good going home and sleeping in my own bed and being in my own space.”
CU junior linebacker Chase Newman has opted out of the 2020 season. Newman has played in 17 career games, mostly on special teams. … In addition to Fontenot and tailback Deion Smith (offseason knee injury), others on the injured list are center Austin Johnson and tight end Luke Stillwell. … Dimitri Stanley, last year’s top punt returner, goes into the season listed in that spot again. At kickoff return, the Buffs list receivers Maurice Bell and Chris Carpenter in the top two spots, followed by Broussard. … Chris Miller, who has worn No. 14 during his career at CU, is now wearing No. 0.