Spring football is often a time for young players to take a step forward and impress their coaches.
As the Colorado Buffaloes go through spring, running back Jayle Stacks continues to turn some heads.
On Wednesday, the ninth of 15 practices this spring, head coach Karl Dorrell said Stacks, a 5-foot-11, 235-pound third-year sophomore, was the star of the day on offense.
“He did some really, really positive things,” Dorrell said. “Deion (Smith) had a touchdown towards the end in the last series, too, but I would say Jayle’s been a guy that has been a little bit more consistent. Whenever he’s out there, he’s made plays happen. It’s been very surprising to all of us, but we’re excited in the same sentence.”
Stacks, a graduate of Cherry Creek High School, has often flashed his talent in practice but hasn’t had a lot of playing time on game days. He has one career carry, for four yards.
Last week, running backs coach Darian Hagan said Stacks will have a role in the Buffs’ offense. Stacks, who can play fullback and tailback, continues to play well.
Stacks is one of several players taking advantage of an opportunity to make an impression this spring. The Buffs are looking to replace several starters from last year. They also have several key players out with injuries this spring, allowing Stacks, Smith and others to shine.
“That’s what we’re looking for,” Dorrell said. “We’re looking for some of these guys that are not necessarily starters that are in the second group … we’re trying to see if we can kind of close the gap between what the first group looks like and then the second group. If we can kind of make it where it’s relatively not much of a drop off, that’s kind of a goal.
“I feel like there’s a number of guys like Jayle and there are safeties and corners that are really closing the gap with the first group, too.”
Through the doors of the indoor practice facility, constant cheers and the occasional playing of the CU fight song could be heard toward the end of Wednesday’s practice.
That noise was produced by a situational red zone competition between the offensive and defense. Touchdowns and field goals earned points for the offense, while stops earned points for the defense; first group to 18 was declared the winner.
The defense took an early 11-0 lead, but the offense roared back and won.
“I liked the work. It was exciting work,” Dorrell said. “I like to see the guys compete. So it was a good thing.”
Offensive tackle Jake Wiley said the team enjoys those in-practice competitions.
“We love it as a team,” he said. “It makes us all better, too. Working against the defense, they make us better and we make them better. Adding the points in, too, you know that if you don’t win, they win the game, and we’re trying to win. It was definitely fun going out there and just working with each other and trying to get each other better for sure.”
Wiley said that competition is part of the coaching staff’s efforts to make practice not only productive but fun.
“Football is supposed to be fun, so we’re just trying to play and have a good time,” he said. “I feel like the coaching staff is really helping us do that, too. … It’ll definitely be good for everyone’s confidence going into next year.”
Young DL stepping up
Redshirt freshmen Allan Baugh and Ryan Williams are looking to earn playing time on the defensive line and both have had a good spring to this point.
“The first thing with those guys is that they’re coachable,” defensive line coach Gerald Chatman said. “They’re bought into taking the coaching, good or bad. They listen. I think those are the first steps for younger guys coming in is to be coachable to listen and be eager to grow eager to learn. They can fix the mistakes right away.
“I think if they can continue to be coachable and they can continue to work on their craft, work on their techniques, they’re giving themselves a chance to have success.”