Colorado linebacker Nate Landman is making progress in his recovery from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.
Landman, a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 performer, was injured in CU’s 38-21 loss to Utah on Dec. 11. He had surgery on Dec. 15.
“He’s doing really well,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said Tuesday on the Pac-12 Network. “He’s ahead of schedule, which you wouldn’t be surprised, knowing Nate Landman. He’s worked really hard. He had surgery really quick (after the injury) … so he’s well along his way.”
On Feb. 9, Landman posted on social media that he was able to shed the walking boot. Last week, linebackers coach Mark Smith posted a photo of Landman on the exercise bike.
CU is hopeful that Landman, a three-year starter and Butkus Award semifinalist last season, will be ready for the fall season.
“He won’t be participating in spring practice or doing any football or team oriented drills, but he’ll be doing some stuff on the side,” Dorrell said. “He’ll try to keep pushing the envelope as much as he can without driving the doctors crazy. So he’s definitely chomping at the bit.”
Dorrell added that Landman is excited about Chris Wilson, the defensive line coach, taking over as coordinator. Wilson replaced Tyson Summers, who was fired in January.
“We’re trying to really iron out the kinks of the issues that we have been dealing with for the last couple of years,” Dorrell said. “We made a lot of progress last year, but there’s still some changes. I think we’re gonna make it better, make our defense a lot more player friendly, so (Landman) is excited about that.”
Eager for spring
CU is slated to open spring practices on March 29, with a spring game on April 30, and Dorrell is excited to start.
“We’re excited about getting back on the field, for one,” he said. “We have a young team that needs a lot of work. We had about eight guys that came in mid-year in January that are anxious to have some spring practice and get some experience under their belt. We’re counting on a lot of those guys that came in mid year to actually be a factor in what we are going into the fall, so it’s an important spring.”
At quarterback, the Buffs won’t have returning starter Sam Noyer this spring. A sixth-year senior, Noyer started all six games last season, but had shoulder surgery after the season.
“He’s out until the summer, so it’s a big spring for (freshman) Brendon Lewis and the other guys that are going to compete at the quarterback position.”
Lewis, who finished last season No. 2 on the depth chart, will compete this spring with Tennessee transfer JT Shrout and incoming freshman Drew Carter.
Dorrell is looking forward to watching several position battles.
“There’s a number of … I call it the soap opera scenario: how’s this gonna work out with this competition,” he said. “That’s the fun part. So, we get to compete hard against each other. Even though there’s no games on the line, there is first, second and third on the depth chart that’s on the line. There’s definitely some things to work on.”
Nixon’s start at USC
Former CU receiver KD Nixon has made a good first impression at Southern California. Nixon, who caught 99 passes for 1,221 yards in four years with the Buffs, transferred to USC this winter.
“He brings great explosiveness,” USC head coach Clay Helton said on the Pac-12 Network. “A really experienced guy, veteran leadership. He has been really strong out in our winter conditioning workouts, so I’m really looking forward to watching him play. He’s going to be an exciting factor next year.”
CU has promoted Matt Butterfield as a quality control coach for offense. He has spent the past two seasons as a staff assistant.
A graduate of CU, Butterfield has also worked at Arizona State, UCLA, Boise State, Oregon, Oklahoma State, Bucknell and California.