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CU Buffs football roster analysis

A look at the projected 2021 scholarship roster for Colorado football

BOULDER, CO - Nov. 28, 2020:Jarek ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
BOULDER, CO – November 28, 2020:Jarek Broussard, of CU, makes a cut during the Colorado San Diego State game at Folsom Field in Boulder on November 28, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

On Tuesday, Karl Dorrell marked the one-year anniversary of the day he was introduced as the head football coach at Colorado.

In a little over a month, Dorrell and the Buffaloes will return to the practice field. CU is scheduled to start spring practices on March 29, with a spring game slated for April 30.

At this point, the Buffs, coming off a 4-2 season, have their spring roster set. With the 2021 recruiting class complete and movement in and out of the transfer portal slowing down, the fall roster is taking shape, as well. CU currently has 91 scholarship players projected for the fall and can have 88 in the fall, so some post-spring attrition is expected.

Although there could be some players leave or others brought in between now and the fall, here’s a look at the projected scholarship roster for the 2021 season.


Players (4): Sam Noyer, Sr.; JT Shrout, So.; Brendon Lewis, Fr.; Drew Carter, Fr.

Analysis: Noyer, who started all six games last year, had shoulder surgery and isn’t likely to participate in spring drills. Shrout, a transfer from Tennessee, will look to compete with Lewis and Carter – an incoming freshman who enrolled in January – this spring. Although Noyer is the returning starter, the job is up for grabs this offseason.

Running backs

Players (6): Alex Fontenot, Jr.; Jarek Broussard, So.; Joe Davis, So.; Deion Smith, So.; Ashaad Clayton, Fr.; Jayle Stacks, Fr.

Analysis: Broussard is coming off a great season in which he was named Pac-12 offensive player of the year, while the Buffs are expecting Fontenot to be ready to go. The 2019 leading rusher missed this past season with an injury. Clayton, a 4-star recruit last year, is aiming for a bigger role, as well. Davis and Stacks played backup roles last year and will compete for more playing time. Smith missed the season with a knee injury and it’s unknown if he’ll participate in spring.

Courtesy Valero Alamo Bowl
Dimitri Stanley led Colorado with 20 catches for 335 yards in 2020.


Players (11): Daniel Arias, Jr.; Maurice Bell, Jr.; Jaylon Jackson, Jr.; Dimitri Stanley, So.; Vontae Shenault, R-Fr.; Chris Carpenter, Fr.; Montana Lemonious-Craig, Fr.; Keith Miller III, Fr.; Brenden Rice, Fr.; Chase Penry, Fr.; Ty Robinson, Fr.

Analysis: Stanley and Shenault led the team in receiving last year and they headline a talented group. Rice had some explosive moments, as well, but there are several players in this group capable of producing. Competition all offseason will be intense. Penry and Robinson are incoming freshmen who will arrive in the summer.

Tight ends

Players (7): Jared Poplawski, Jr.; Brady Russell, Jr.; Luke Stillwell, So.; Alec Pell, R-Fr.; Caleb Fauria, Fr.; Louis Passarello, Fr.; Erik Olsen, Fr.

Analysis: Russell returns after missing all but four plays of the last five games. He’s one of the better tight ends in the Pac-12 when healthy. The rest of the group is talented, but unproven, so there is plenty of competition for playing time. Walk-ons, including senior Matt Lynch, are in the mix for playing time, as well. Olsen joined the team in January after graduating high school early.

Offensive linemen

Players (16): Kary Kutsch, Sr.; Chance Lytle, Jr.; Colby Pursell, Jr.; Frank Fillip, So.; Josh Jynes, So.; Kanan Ray, So.; Casey Roddick, So.; Austin Johnson, R-Fr.; Nikko Pohahau, R-Fr.; Valentin Senn, R-Fr.; Jake Wiley, R-Fr.; Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan, Fr.; Carson Lee, Fr.; Jake Wray, Fr.; Edgar Amaya, Fr.; Jackson Anderson, Fr.

Analysis: Kutsch, Pursell, Roddick and Fillip return as full-time starters from last year, but there will be a lot of competition for their spots. Lytle, Ray and Jynes all got significant playing time last year, as well, while a young group, led by Johnson and Lee, will get in the mix, too. Amaya and Anderson are incoming freshmen who will arrive in the summer.

Defensive linemen

Players (13): Jeremiah Doss, Jr.; Justin Jackson, Jr.; Janaz Jordan, Jr.; Terrance Lang, Jr.; Na’im Rodman, So.; Jalen Sami, So.; Austin Williams, So.; Antonio Alfano, R-Fr.; Lloyd Murray Jr., R-Fr.; Jayden Simon, R-Fr.; Allan Baugh, Fr.; Tyas Martin, Fr.; Ryan Williams, Fr.

Analysis: This group lost its leader in Mustafa Johnson, who declared for the NFL Draft, but there’s still some good talent here. Lang is a returning starter at end, while Sami and  Jordan both have starting experience at nose tackle. Rodman, Doss and Murray all played as reserves last year. Alfano’s status for spring and the season is uncertain as he continues to get a handle on epilepsy, but he would be a great addition to the group. Baugh, Martin and Williams will arrive in summer.

BOULDER, CO - Dec. 12, 2020: ...
BOULDER, CO – December 12, 2020: Colorado’s Carson Wells. The Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes play at Folsom Field in Boulder on December 12, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Outside linebackers

Players (8): Robert Barnes, Jr.; Jamar Montgomery, Jr.; Guy Thomas, Jr.; Carson Wells, Jr.; Joshka Gustav, R-Fr.; Devin Grant, Fr.; Alvin Williams, Fr.; Zion Magalei, Fr.

Analysis: Wells returns after a sensational season in which he led the country in tackles for loss per game. He’s the clear leader of this group, but plenty of others will battle for playing time. Barnes is a graduate transfer from Oklahoma who adds some experience. Montgomery, Thomas and Gustav all played in reserve roles last season. Grant and Williams are back for their second year in the program. Magalei is a freshman who will arrive in the summer.

Inside linebackers

Players (9): Nate Landman, Sr.; Chase Newman, Jr.; Quinn Perry, Jr.; Jonathan Van Diest, Jr.; Jack Lamb, So.; Ray Robinson, So.; Marvin Ham II, R-Fr.; Mister Williams, Fr.; Zephaniah Maea, Fr.

Analysis: Landman is the star of this group, but he’s recovering from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon and won’t participate in spring. The Buffs are hopeful he will return to pre-injury form in the fall. Van Diest has starting experience and will battle for a starting spot. Perry has some experience, too, while the Buffs like the potential of Ham and Williams. Maea arrived in January and will compete this spring. Lamb, a transfer from Notre Dame, will get to Boulder in the summer and look to compete for a starting role, as well.


Players (8): Mekhi Blackmon, Jr.; Nigel Bethel, So.; Tarik Luckett, So.; D.J. Oats, R-Fr.; Christian Gonzalez, Fr.; Kaylin Moore, Fr.; Nikko Reed, Fr.; Tyrin Taylor, Fr.

Analysis: Blackmon had a really good season in the fall, and Gonzalez flashed his potential as a freshman starter. They are the projected starters, but Bethel got some valuable experience, as well. Taylor enrolled in January and will join Luckett and Oats in competing this spring. Moore and Reed are slated to arrive in the summer.


Players (7): Isaiah Lewis, Jr.; Chris Miller, Jr.; Mark Perry, So.; Jaylen Striker, So.; Trustin Oliver, R-Fr.; Toren Pittman, Fr.; Trevor Woods, Fr.

Analysis: This has the potential to be a deep group. Lewis is coming off a great season in his first year as a starter, while Perry was a full-time starter with potential to take his game up a couple levels. Miller was slated to start before an injury derailed his season. Oliver arrived in January as a junior college transfer and he could compete for a starting role right away. Pittman and Striker will be in competition for playing time, as well. Woods is set to arrive this summer.


Players (2): Josh Watts, Jr.; Cole Becker, Fr.

Analysis: Watts returns for his second year as the Buffs’ punter. He got better as the year went along and figures to continue in the starting role. Becker is set to arrive this summer as a freshman kicker. He will try to unseat walk-on Evan Price, who became the starting kicker last year and made six of eight field goals and all 16 of his extra points.