Montana Lemonious-Craig doesn’t have a lot of experience in college football, but he’s been around long enough that he feels like a veteran.
A third-year sophomore, Lemonious-Craig is one of the top players and leaders for a receiver group that has gone through some changes this offseason.
“I have taken on a leadership role within the room, in terms of wide receivers,” he said. “I feel like it’s a responsibility for me going on my third year here. Even though I am a young guy, I feel like with the team expanding my role, I need to be able to step up to the plate, just be more of a guy that some of the young guys can lean on.”
Several receivers, including starters Brenden Rice and Dimitri Stanley, transferred this offseason. Although there is a good mix of veterans and youth still in the room, Lemonious-Craig is one of the receivers CU could count on the most.
“Oh yeah, most definitely,” quarterback Brendon Lewis said when asked if Lemonious-Craig is somewhat of a security blanket for him on the field. “Montana is getting better every day. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve seen, so he’s getting better each and every day. He’s one of those guys: possession catches, a big-time third-down guy. So for sure he could be one of those guys.”
Baylor transfer RJ Sneed is the most experienced of the group, while seniors Daniel Arias, Maurice Bell and Jaylon Jackson could have key roles, as well. Lemonious-Craig and fellow sophomores Chase Penry and Ty Robinson were in the rotation last year.
After coming to CU in 2020, Lemonious-Craig caught his first pass in the Valero Alamo Bowl against Texas that season. Last year, he caught 10 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns before missing the final two games with an injury.
This year, he’s ready to take a bigger leap.
“That’s what we’re counting on and that’s what he’s counting on when you talk to him, too,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “He’s expecting to up his game this year. He’s on track to doing those things.”
Listed at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Lemonious-Craig is angling for a starting role this offseason and has built a good rapport with Lewis and junior quarterback JT Shrout.
“Me and B-Lew have a great relationship on and off the field,” he said. “We get extra work together. I would say our chemistry is really good. We tend to gel on a lot of things and I think we’ll be able to display it throughout the whole spring and come the fall.
“JT is a great guy. I have a great relationship with JT and I’m looking forward to him as well.”
Building a foundation
Safeties coach Brett Maxie said he isn’t worried about building a depth chart at his position this spring because it could change in the fall with new players coming in.
CU has only three scholarship safeties this spring — senior Isaiah Lewis and sophomores Tyrin Taylor and Trevor Woods. This summer, junior college transfer Jeremy Mack Jr. and true freshmen Dylan Dixson and Xavier Smith will join the group.
“(This spring) I just want to see guys that have some ability to contribute,” Maxie said.
Lewis is a two-year starter, while Taylor and Woods both got some experience as true freshmen last year. Dixson, from Pearland, Texas, is the highest-rated recruit in CU’s 2022 class, according to 247Sports.com.
Maxie said Smith recently had surgery and will miss at least the first part of the season.
Inside linebackers coach Mark Smith said redshirt freshman Mister Williams has been able to fully participate this spring, which has helped his development. “He is instinctive and he can just turn something that looks bad into a great play and few players have that ability to do that,” he said. … True freshman Eoghan Kerry came in as an outside linebacker but has been at inside linebacker this spring. Smith said, “He’s got a very, very high football IQ and he’s able to play in and out of different positions, which is very difficult for a freshman, especially an early enrollee freshman. He’s really impressed me with what he’s bringing to the group.” … CU was off on Tuesday but will return to the field on Wednesday.