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CU football notes: Colby Pursell leading Buffs’ offensive line

Center Colby Pursell is a fifth-year junior for the Colorado Buffaloes and one of the leaders of the offensive line.
University of Colorado Athletics
Center Colby Pursell is a fifth-year junior for the Colorado Buffaloes and one of the leaders of the offensive line.

As a leader of the Colorado offensive line, Colby Pursell has some high hopes for his group and the offense in general.

Pursell’s primary personal goal, however, is simple: Stay healthy.

“It’s obviously a huge deal,” the fifth-year junior center said. “Even without the football component, wanting to be healthy is just what people should want to be. I try to be healthy all the time, I try and do what I can; try and get extra rehab when I can. I try to do extra pre-hab that I can to make sure that I’m healthy. If something doesn’t go my way, it doesn’t go my way.”

Pursell has had too much not go his way the last couple of years.

After starting all 12 games at center in 2018, he missed five games in 2019 after he had his gallbladder removed midway through the season. Last year, he missed three of the Buffs’ six games with another injury.

A week into preseason camp, Pursell is feeling good and excited about the progress of the Buffs in the trenches.

“I think we’re getting better,” he said. “There’s some new things that we’re trying to implement, some different techniques. I think we’re improving on them daily. I think we’re becoming more of a cohesive unit. We’ve got some more parts in and I think we’re meshing very well.”

Although Frank Fillip, last year’s starter at right tackle, is still out with a shoulder injury (he’s expected to return next month), the Buffs have had a solid group this camp.

Ohio State transfer Max Wray has taken over at left tackle, while Kary Kutsch (left guard) and Pursell are returning as veteran starters.

Casey Roddick, the 2020 starter at right guard, is also back after missing spring with a medical condition and working his way into the rotation. While he slowly returns, Kanan Ray is taking a lot of first-team reps and feeling better physically than he’s felt since coming to CU in 2018.

Redshirt freshman Jake Wiley continues to have a good camp as he battles for the right tackle spot with Fillip out.

“I really have been pleased with Jake Wiley’s progression at tackle,” offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. “He’s been really impressive early in fall camp.”

As a group, the Buffs have a good mix of veterans and youth. Leading the way is Pursell and guard/tackle Chance Lytle.

“We’ve both been here about the same amount of time,” Pursell said. “We’re trying to bring people along, try to set expectations, teach people that need help. We’ve got three new freshmen and they need help. They have to learn things and we’re trying to bring it to them.”

When healthy, this could be the best line CU has had in a few years, but there is still work to be done, Pursell said.

“There’s definitely the potential to do it,” he said. “We have some good pieces in there, for sure. It doesn’t matter about the individual pieces; we have to collectively move as one.”

From left: University of Colorado Boulder Safety Anthony Lyle (No. 41) and Wide Receiver Ty Robinson (No. 80) during practice on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

Young WRs impressing

CU has a pair of true freshmen receivers who are getting acclimated to the Buffs after stellar prep careers in the state. So far, Chase Penry, from Cherry Creek, and Ty Robinson, from Eaglecrest, have had some good moments.

“Ty was really good early,” Chiaverini said. “He’s been a little bit hampered of late, just a little bit tight. But, Chase Penry has been, the last couple of days, really stepping up. He’s made some really good plays in 11-on-11 and he knows how to get open. He’s got football savvy to him. He understands the game, he understands how to run routes. He knows how to separate and he catches the football. Those are all really good things to have if you’re a receiver.

“I’ve been pleased with both of them. Those are both good in-state players for us.”


While Brendon Lewis and JT Shrout battle for the starting quarterback job, true freshmen Drew Carter will go in as the No. 3, and he’s improving. “Drew Carter has been getting better each and every day,” Chiaverini said. … According to Chiaverini, returning freshmen Montana Lemonious-Craig and Brenden Rice have taken steps forward this month. Another freshman, Keith Miller III, “has played big in this camp,” Chiaverini said. … Senior tight end Matt Lynch has been “hampered a little bit” with an injury early in camp, Chiaverini said. … Running back Deion Smith, who missed the 2020 season with a knee injury, had a big run Thursday. “He’s been getting back going and he’s flashed a little bit,” Chiaverini said.

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