Colorado’s scrimmage at Folsom Field on Saturday didn’t offer much of a season preview of the inside linebacker position.
All-American candidate Nate Landman sat out to keep his body fresh. Veterans Jonathan Van Diest and Robert Barnes didn’t participate either. It did, however, give newcomer Jack Lamb a good opportunity to play.
A graduate transfer from Notre Dame, Lamb was involved with several defensive plays throughout the day. It was the latest sign that Lamb has put some injury troubles behind him as he competes for playing time with the Buffs.
“Physically I feel really good, completely healthy right now,” Lamb said early in camp. “I feel like I’m in really good shape. Especially being out here in this altitude, it’s been nice for getting in shape, too, so I feel good.”
Lamb played three seasons at Notre Dame, but the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder dealt with several injuries. That led to him falling on the Fighting Irish depth chart and making the move to Boulder.
“It’s been really exciting, just a whole new environment,” he said. “A lot different than Indiana, obviously, in terms of weather, scenery and all that. Also just meeting all these new dudes, everyone’s been great so far.”
After arriving in June, Lamb felt the summer gave him an opportunity to get to know many of his teammates, particularly his fellow linebackers.
Playing for a team that reached the College Football Playoff twice in his time in South Bend, Lamb hopes he can bring some leadership to CU, along with playmaking ability.
“I have some prior knowledge from a different school where I can give them some tips here and there, too, and just pushing them in conditioning and stuff,” he said. “I feel like trying to become a leader in that way has been helpful.”
Lamb also came to CU eager to play with Landman and has been impressed so far with the Buffs’ senior leader.
“Nate is just such a great communicator, such a great leader,” Lamb said. “Seeing him out here on the field for the first time, it’s awesome. He just commands a defense and that’s something I aspire to do, so it’s fun to watch.”
Wray relishes opportunity
Like Lamb, tackle Max Wray transferred to CU this summer after playing in the College Football Playoff last season. In fact, prior to the start of camp this month, Wray had not put a set of pads on since playing for Ohio State in the national title game on Jan. 11.
After three seasons as a backup with the Buckeyes, Wray has an opportunity to start at left tackle for the Buffs.
“I’m fired up,” he said after a recent practice. “It’s been a good camp. I’m trying to get back into the swing of things (after not having spring football). I’ve got some stuff to correct … but we’re having a good camp. I’m excited.”
Although he was primarily a backup at Ohio State, Wray said playing for the Buckeyes was a good experience.
“I’m really grateful for all the experiences I’ve had there,” he said. “I made some really good friends and played against a lot of really, really good players. I’m eternally grateful for everything I had there.”
He’s now embracing the opportunity with the Buffs and head coach Karl Dorrell.
“It’s been awesome,” he said. “Just good work (in practice). I really believe in coach Dorrell and what he’s doing.”
Safety Isaiah Lewis said the communication among the defense, particularly in the secondary, is coming along as the Buffs go through camp.
“The coaches put a pretty big emphasis on us being good communicators,” he said. “So the safeties need to know not just our job, we need to know what the linebackers are doing. The linebackers need to make sure they’re getting the D-line right. So the communication is taking a very big step from last year.”
It’s been less than a year since Alec Pell moved from linebacker to tight end, but the redshirt freshman continues to prove he can be a key player for the Buffs.
Pell caught a pass on the first play of Saturday’s scrimmage and then added a 16-yard touchdown catch from Brendon Lewis. He dove into the end zone for the score.
“I’ve been very impressed with Alec Pell, because he’s physical and he’ll hit you, and he’ll make plays for you,” offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said last week. “He’s that blue-collar (guy); he’ll bring his lunch pail to work every day.”