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CU Buffs position preview: QBs to battle for starting role

Buffaloes lack experience, but expect healthy competition

Brendon Lewis during the University of ...
Brendon Lewis during the University of Colorado Football Spring Showcase on April 30, 2021.

Behind the scenes, staff members with Colorado’s football program keep their eyes on the transfer portal every day.

Last winter, when a Tennessee quarterback named JT Shrout popped into the portal, the Buffs reacted quickly.

“We jumped on him hard,” Bob Lopez, CU’s director of player personnel, told BuffZone this summer.

The staff quickly learned about Shrout and before long, head coach Karl Dorrell, offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini and quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf were on the phone.

“Chev and coach Dorrell and Danny did a great job of previewing the offense (for Shrout), talking about how we’re going to develop him and depth and, bam, it happened,” Lopez said. “It’s gonna be a fast process.

BOULDER, CO – April 16, 2021: Colorado Buffaloes quarterback JT Shrout during spring football practice. (University of Colorado Athletics)

“It’s like trying to buy a house in Colorado right now. You’ve got to have good sources and you’ve got to have a connection because if you’re not in on it right away, you ain’t getting a house.”

CU’s quick action on Shrout is even more important now because the Buffs have less depth at quarterback than they did at the time.

Leading up to fall camp, which starts Aug. 5, is previewing each position group for the Buffs. In this first installment, we look at the quarterbacks.

At the time that Shrout enrolled at CU in January, the Buffs were expecting a three- or four-man battle for the starting job this season.

Sam Noyer started all six games for the Buffs (4-2, 3-1 Pac-12) in 2021 and earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors from the coaches. He sat out of spring ball because of shoulder surgery, but the Buffs expected to have him back for the summer and fall. That changed when Noyer announced last month that he’s transferring to Oregon State.

Now, the Buffs are down to three scholarship quarterbacks, with Shrout, returning freshman Brendon Lewis and true freshman Drew Carter.

Even without Noyer, however, the Buffs feel good about the room.

“We have a competition going into fall camp; that’s a good thing,” Chiaverini told BuffZone this spring. “You want to have a competition, you want to see these guys perform under pressure, perform in live scrimmages, move the first unit down the field and score points. Whoever can do that at a high, consistent level, that’s the guy you roll with.”

Lewis and Shrout are the favorites to win the job, as they were the two splitting time with the No.1 and No. 2 offenses in spring.

Lewis is now the longest-tenured CU quarterback. He enrolled in January of 2020 and spent most of last season as the No. 3 quarterback. He got a chance to play in the Alamo Bowl and made the most of it, leading CU to three touchdowns.

“You saw flashes in the bowl game with Brendon Lewis of being a really dynamic quarterback, being able to run the ball as well as throw the ball and get yourself out of trouble,” Chiaverini said.

Shrout played in eight games at Tennessee, with one start. During his time with the Volunteers, he completed 37-of-69 passes for 494 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.

“JT Shrout flashed some really good things in spring ball,” Chiaverini said. “He’s got a strong arm. He’s got really good touch. Throws a really good deep ball, has good presence.”

BOULDER, CO – April 2021: Colorado quarterback Drew Carter during University of Colorado football practice. (University of Colorado Athletics)

Carter graduated from high school early and enrolled in January, as did the only other quarterback on the roster, walk-on Jordan Woolverton, from Durango.

While the depth is thin, the Buffs like the options they have.

“This should be a really good competition this fall and the best man should go out there and win this thing,” Chiaverini said.

Position: Quarterbacks

Returners (2020 statistics)

  • Brendon Lewis, Fr., 6-foot-2, 225 pounds (6-for-10, 95 yards; rush: 9 att., 73 yards, 1 TD)


  • Drew Carter, Fr., 6-3, 195
  • JT Shrout, So., 6-3, 215 (transfer from Tennessee; 24-for-42, 315 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT)
  • Jordan Woolverton, Fr., 6-2, 195 (walk-on)


  • Tyler Lytle, 6-5, 220 (Transferred to UMass; 4-of-7, 13 yards; rush: 1 att., 15 yards)
  • Sam Noyer, 6-4, 220 (Transferred to Oregon State; 88-of-160, 1,101 yards, 6 TD, 7 INT; rush: 52 att., 208 yards, 5 TD)
  • Mike Chandler II, 6-1, 185 (walk-on; transferred to Lamar)
  • Grant Ciccarone, 6-2, 205 (walk-on; entered transfer portal)
  • Dylan Jacob, 6-1, 205 (walk-on)

2021 outlook: For the second consecutive year, the Buffs will have a new starting quarterback. They just don’t know who it will be at this point. Given his time in the offense and dual-threat ability, Lewis might be the odds-on favorite to win the job. A product of Melissa High School in Texas, Lewis has a strong arm and is a talented runner. He had some ups and downs in the spring but was a much-improved player from the fall. Shrout came to CU for a new start after three seasons at Tennessee. He also had some ups and downs in spring but was getting acclimated to a new offense. He’s got some experience in what is considered the best conference in the country, the SEC. While not as mobile at Lewis, Shrout has a strong arm and can be accurate with the ball, making him a strong candidate to win the job. Carter might be a year away from competing for the job, but he’s got exceptional athleticism and it’s possible that he turns a strong summer into a good fall. Woolverton is also a dual-threat who provides some depth.