After each of his three seasons with the Colorado Buffaloes, Mustafa Johnson has earned some all-conference recognition.
At the moment, the defensive lineman is doing his work behind the scenes.
“Right now he’s the best guy on scout team we’ve got,” defensive coordinator Chris Wilson said.
Johnson, who declared for the NFL Draft in January but was not selected, was reinstated to the roster last week. He received a waiver to get his final year of eligibility back but has to serve a suspension before he can play in games.
Wilson said he’s not sure when Johnson could play, but for now, the Buffs are glad he’s back on the practice field.
“What he’s doing is he’s working himself back in football shape,” Wilson said. “Obviously, he didn’t have a spring, didn’t have a summer. But I tell you, he is so motivated. We are so excited to have him back, not just from a football standpoint, but from a leadership standpoint.
“He’s down there trying to make our offensive line better every day and it’s something that he wanted to do. We didn’t have to push him there. So I love his maturity and I love the depth that he can bring to our defensive line.”
In addition to getting back into game shape, Johnson is working on improving his technique, Wilson said.
Earlier this week, Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck said he’s been impressed in watching film of the Buffs as he prepares to bring his team to Boulder on Saturday.
“They’re really good,” Fleck said. “Very physical on defense, really good tacklers. Their linebacking corps is really talented. They love to play football; you can tell. They keep everything in front of them.
“On the offensive side of the ball they’ve got two really good backs. They’re physical. They’ve got a young quarterback that can run around and create, as well as throw the football down the field.”
More than anything, Fleck said he seems team camaraderie.
“You can tell they really like to play football and they like playing for each other,” Fleck said. “They’re a connected football team, a really good football team. You can see that come off on the film.”
Starting quarterback Brendon Lewis continues to develop his game and go through some growing pains. Meanwhile, his top backup, true freshman Drew Carter, is improving as well.
“He’s made a lot of progress in what he does, but that’s a tough position to play,” head coach Karl Dorrell said. “That’s why in the NFL, the quarterbacks make all the money, right? They have to handle a lot of information. And same thing at the college level is that you still have to handle a lot of information and it just takes some time for that position to grow as fast as we would want it. But he is making really good progress. I’m excited about his future. I really am.”
Dorrell said he hopes to give Carter some opportunities to play in games, but added, “To do that, we have to be more efficient offensively and be in control of some of these games so we feel comfortable to put him in. There’s nothing that really is going to help that position grow (more than) playing; playing at this level and going against the college defense and how fast it is out there and how fast they have to digest information and perform it.”
Olympians to be honored
Four former Buffs who recently competed in the Olympics will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s game.
Three-time Olympian Emma Coburn and first-timer Val Constien, who both competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, will be honored. In addition, CU will recognize Joe Klecker (10,000-meter run) and Morgan Pearson (triathlon).
More than 200 former cross country and track and field athletes from CU will be on hand this weekend for a reunion.