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Bryan Cook eager to work with CU Buffs tight ends

New tight ends coach aims to develop young group of Buffaloes

Sophomore walk-on CJ Schmanski started three games at tight end for Colorado last year. He's one of 12 tight ends on the roster this spring.
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Sophomore walk-on CJ Schmanski started three games at tight end for Colorado last year. He’s one of 12 tight ends on the roster this spring.

Bryan Cook’s coaching career has provided him an opportunity to work in a variety of roles and with a variety of positions.

In his latest role with the Colorado Buffaloes, he’s eager to work with a young, talented position group.

After spending the past two years as a defensive quality control coach at CU, Cook was hired this winter as the Buffs’ tight ends coach.

Colorado tight ends coach Bryan Cook

“I have good familiarity with the program, the staff and the locker room, so I’m really excited for the opportunity,” Cook said. “It was valuable here the last couple of years (to work on defense) and really kind of getting a feel for how people play defense in the Pac-12, too. I think it’s developed my value as a coach and hopefully what I can bring to the role.”

Cook, 44, returns to offense after being a quality control coach on defense for the past three years, at CU (2019-20) and Georgia Tech (2018).

In 2017, Cook was the offensive coordinator at Georgia Southern and from 2013-16, he coached quarterbacks and B-Backs at Georgia Tech. He was also co-offensive coordinator at Cal Poly from 2009-12, coaching quarterbacks and fullbacks. As a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech from 2001-03, he helped to coach the tight ends.

This will be his first full-time job as a tight ends coach, but it’s a position he’s familiar with from his years on offense.

“It’s a good position,” he said. “You really have your hand in the run game, you’re involved in the pass game, and in really every aspect of the offense; pass protection, so it’s a challenge.”

The challenge at CU will come with developing the raw talent in the tight end room.

Junior Brady Russell is one of the best tight ends in the Pac-12, but the rest of the group is either young or short on game experience.

“Brady Russell has played a lot and Matt Lynch played when they were healthy last year, but outside of that, we’ve got a bunch of young guys in the room who have a good bit of talent that is ready to be developed, so we’re looking forward to that on Monday,” Cook said.

On Monday, the Buffs open spring practices, and it will be an important time for the tight ends.

Under coach Mike MacIntyre, from 2013-18, the tight ends weren’t a big part of the Buffs’ offense. Mel Tucker made it more of a priority when he was head coach in 2019, but it’s becoming even more of an emphasis under current head coach Karl Dorrell.

This spring, CU has 12 tight ends on the roster, including five walk-ons. It’s the biggest group of tight ends at CU in a while. The Buffs had nine last year, eight in 2019 and only six in 2018.

Cook believes he’s got a good mix of players to work with at CU.

Russell and Lynch are the leaders of the group. Russell has the most experience, while Lynch is a veteran leader. A sixth-year senior, Lynch was a scholarship quarterback at UCLA before transitioning to tight end in 2019. He transferred to CU as a walk-on last year.

“He understands football,” Cook said. “It’s easy to coach a guy like that. I’ve got good expectations for Matt. I think we can win football games with Matt.”

Another walk-on, C.J. Schmanski, is back after starting three games in Russell’s place.

Cook is also eager to work with, among others, junior Jared Poplawski, who hasn’t played since 2017 because of injuries; and freshmen Alec Pell, Caleb Fauria and Erik Olsen.

With a limited number of reps available, Russell likely won’t do much in spring, but others who need the work will be busy, as the Buffs try to find the tight ends who can help them most next season.

“There’s a lot of youth in this room here that I’m walking into right now, so I’m really kind of excited about the opportunity to develop those guys,” Cook said. “This will be my 23rd season doing this and I really take a lot of pride in the development.”