A year ago, Jake Wiley went into spring football practices hoping to earn playing time with the Colorado Buffaloes.
Injuries to a couple of teammates and Wiley’s development led to him not only getting playing time but to getting thrown into the most important spot on the offensive line.
Wiley went through plenty of growing pains in starting at left tackle during the 2021 season but feels he’s better now because of the experience.
“I think it was really just trial by fire,” said Wiley, who played only seven career snaps before last year. “Going in there and learning from my mistakes, to be honest. The first game against (Northern Colorado) was really my first snaps playing collegiately, so going in there kind of just seeing what I did wrong and how I can fix that.
“I feel like every game I just got better, from UNC to (the finale at) Utah. I feel like my game, I would pick up on little things that would happen.”
Wiley, who is 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, started 10 games at left tackle and two at right tackle last year. He gave up eight sacks and 17 quarterbacks pressures and led the Buffs’ line with five penalties.
“It was definitely tough,” he said. “You don’t ever want to mess up. Being an O-lineman, giving up a sack is probably the worst thing you can do. We had a few of those last year. For me what I like to think of is the next play. You’re on to the next play. You can’t do anything about it. Try to make yourself better for the next play.”
Or the next season, which is what Wiley is doing now. Wiley has spent hours rewatching last year’s games as he strives to learn from his mistakes. Wiley has also spent the past few months learning from new offensive line coach Kyle DeVan, who was hired on Dec. 21.
“Jake, obviously he knew he didn’t have a great year and coaches hit on it, but his approach this offseason has been freaking unbelievable,” DeVan said. “You talk about a guy that loves the game, loves the work, loves the development side of it. His approach has been unbelievable. I’m really excited about him.”
This spring, Wiley is settled at left tackle and bringing more confidence to the field.
“It feels a lot more comfortable,” he said. “Just really trying to get the playbook and just know everything and really watch the defense and trying to see what’s going on. Getting comfortable in the spot just really helps too.
“I feel like this year has gotta be a real big year for myself and the whole O-line as a unit, to show, I feel like, just from the end of the season to now we’ve made leaps and bounds to where we want to be. We’re not there yet, obviously, but I think as myself and the whole O-line, we’re gonna be really good this year. I’m excited to go out there and just play with everybody and show what we’ve got going on.”
Regis Jesuit tight end Andrew Metzger has become the seventh player to join CU’s commitment list for the 2023 class. On Thursday night, Metzger announced his verbal pledge, writing on Twitter, “Thank you to the entire staff for trusting in me!!”
Rated a three-star recruit by 247Sports.com, Metzger has 11 scholarship offers, including from Air Force, Duke, Kansas, Washington State and Wyoming.
Aside from senior Brady Russell, the Buffs don’t have any experience at tight end. They do have talent, however.
Redshirt freshmen Caleb Fauria and Erik Olsen have made a strong impression this spring, while Austin Smith continues to improve.
“He’s a talented young man and he is going to be a different dimension for us offensively,” Dorrell said of the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Smith. “He’s still a young player though. He hasn’t played a snap yet. He still is going through some growing pains.”
A late signee in 2021, Smith came from Elmaton, Texas, which has a population of less than 30, and he’s still learning how to play tight end.
“He has made a lot of progress,” Dorrell said. “We do think he has a really bright future, but he’s still going through some growing pains. You’ll see some things like, ‘Hmm, that wasn’t so good,’ but then you’ll see some, ‘Wow, that was pretty good.’ Let’s hopefully keep building on the wow category and eliminate … the stuff that is inexperienced out there. He’s growing. He’s getting better.”
The Buffs had the day off Thursday. They return to the field on Friday. … Third-year sophomore outside linebacker Alvin Williams is making a good impression. Mainly a special teams player the past two years, he played 38 snaps on defense last year. “We’re excited about the transformation he’s making,” Dorrell said. “He’s now a big factor in what we’re doing going on the defense moving forward.” … Dorrell also praised inside linebacker Marvin Ham II, a fourth-year sophomore with 141 career snaps. “He’s been here a few years and he’s having probably his best time of football that I’ve seen since he’s been here and he’s getting a lot of reps,” Dorrell said. “It’s paying off for him.”