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Jayle Stacks making impression in CU Buffs’ backfield

Freshman running back has been running with power in spring practices

TUCSON, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 05: Running back Ashaad Clayton, left, of the Colorado Buffaloes celebrates with teammate Jayle Stacks after scoring a touchdown against the Arizona Wildcats during the first half of the PAC-12 football game at Arizona Stadium on December 05, 2020 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
TUCSON, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 05: Running back Ashaad Clayton, left, of the Colorado Buffaloes celebrates with teammate Jayle Stacks after scoring a touchdown against the Arizona Wildcats during the first half of the PAC-12 football game at Arizona Stadium on December 05, 2020 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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Between the proven production of Jarek Broussard and Alex Fontenot and the hype surrounding Ashaad Clayton, Jayle Stacks hasn’t received a lot of attention since joining the Colorado Buffaloes last year.

The freshman running back is making his mark this spring, however, and on Friday had a couple of powerful, tackle-breaking runs in the Buffaloes’ first scrimmage of spring.

“That’s what we’ve seen right there,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said of Stacks’ running style. “What you saw today is what he’s been doing the last two, three, or four practices since we’ve been in pads. He’s a load to bring down, and he’s one of those backs who is a bigger back and he’s kind of a utility player for us. He catches the ball well out of the backfield. … He does a number of things for us.”

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Stacks is CU’s biggest running back and came to CU after a stellar career at Cherry Creek High School. With the Bruins, he was a four-time all-conference performer, rushing for 2,997 yards and 39 touchdowns during his career. He also turned seven of his 22 career catches into touchdowns.

“We’ve been, I would say, pleasantly surprised with Jayle,” Dorrell said. “He seems like he’s got a comfort level in what we’re doing offensively. He’s a lot more comfortable doing a lot of different roles that we’re asking him to play, and it was good to see him having a few carries where he was actually carrying some people, running down the field. Very, very happy with his progress.”

Finding carries next season will be tough if the Buffs are healthy, but Stacks is hoping to work his way into the rotation. It’s a group led by Broussard, who was the Pac-12 offensive player of the year last season, and Fontenot, the Buffs’ leading rusher in 2019 before missing 2020 with a hip injury.

Stacks and Clayton both came to CU in the 2020 recruiting class, but it was Clayton getting the attention, as a four-star prospect.

Clayton, who had a pair of touchdowns in a win against Arizona last season, is also showing some improvement this spring.

“He’s working really, really hard,” Dorrell said. “He’s done, I think, some really, really positive stuff from what he did in the fall. He’s more comfortable with understanding our system and being more proficient at it, I would say. I’m very encouraged where he’s at. He’s one of those kids that he’s had some really bright moments up until this point and we’re hoping he continues that progress in making some of those plays and more efficient plays as we continue to move through spring.”

Carter progressing

With senior Sam Noyer out this spring because of offseason shoulder surgery, the Buffs have only three scholarship quarterbacks participating this spring. Only two of them — returning freshman Brendon Lewis and junior JT Shrout — took snaps with the offense during the 25-play scrimmage on Friday.

True freshman Drew Carter, who graduated high school early and enrolled at CU in January, is progressing toward getting into a scrimmage.

“He’s not quite ready to trigger in a scrimmage yet,” Dorrell said. “He’s still learning and he’s digesting a lot of information. He just stepped on campus a few months ago and he’s learning the system. He’s progressing well, but we just didn’t think that he would operate fast, understanding, going under those fast bullets of being under a scrimmage.”

Dorrell said the Buffs hope to get Carter involved in the next scrimmage, on April 16. That session will also be longer than Friday’s scrimmage.

“We’re bringing him along at a pace that is probably about right for him,” Dorrell said.

Settling in

Entering his fourth season with the Buffs, Ray Robinson has been one of the team’s better special teams players but hasn’t found much time on defense.

A graduate of Highlands Ranch High School, he came to CU as a safety but spent the past two seasons at linebacker. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder is now back at safety and looked comfortable there on Friday. He made a couple of nice plays, including an interception on a tipped pass.

“I think Ray has found a home playing safety,” Dorrell said. “There’s no question in my mind watching him play he’s a lot more energetic, he’s into it. I think he feels like he’s found a home. I know he’s been at linebacker the last couple of years and we feel like he’s going to give us some really valuable depth playing safety. And, he does all those things on special teams, so I’ve been really encouraged where Ray is.”

Notes

Freshman inside linebackers Marvin Ham II and Alvin Williams have impressed Dorrell in the early going. “They’re getting better and I think they’re both kind of explosive players, too,” he said. … The Buffs will take the weekend off and return to the field on Monday.