Coming out of Richmond-Burton (Ill.) High School in 2021, Luke Eckardt was recruited to the University of Arizona by Kyle DeVan.
Before he ever got to Tucson, however, the Wildcats went through a coaching change and DeVan had moved on to Michigan. Now, Eckardt will finally get a chance to play for DeVan, the offensive line coach at Colorado.
On Friday, Eckardt announced that he has decided to transfer to CU after spending last season at Arizona. The 6-foot-6, 275-pounder has four years to play and is eligible immediately.
“Obviously, DeVan was probably the main reason I went to Colorado, but I’ve previously visited Boulder on a ski trip before, so I know what it’s like,” Eckardt said. “It’s actually a really nice town so I’m excited for that. I don’t really know much else (about CU), but I’m excited for what coach DeVan has in store.”
At Arizona, Eckardt didn’t play for coaches that recruited him, and he said he’s excited to do that at CU.
“It makes me more motivated to prove them right that they recruited me for a reason,” he said.
While things didn’t work out for Eckardt at Arizona, he is grateful for his time with the Wildcats. Listed at 265 pounds in high school, he got to Arizona weighing 290 pounds. The strength and conditioning staff helped to re-shape his body. He’s now tipping the scales at a “lean” 275 pounds, but wants to get to 305.
“I think probably the strength staff was the most influential for me, as far as improving my game, because it definitely got me a lot stronger,” he said. “Those guys are crazy. They were really putting us to work and I feel like if I can survive some Alabama (type of) workout I think I’ll be okay.”
Coming from a run-oriented offense in high school, Eckardt learned how to pass protect at Arizona, as well, and said, “That definitely has been probably the biggest improvement on my game – that and footwork, hand placement, all that. I mean, those can obviously get better, but those have definitely improved exponentially since I’ve gotten here.”
At Arizona, Eckardt played all five spots on the line for the scout team, he said, but he projects as a tackle with the Buffaloes.
Eckardt is finishing the spring semester at Arizona and will join the Buffs in the summer, hoping to develop and earn a spot on the depth chart.
“I want to work my tail off and we’ll see how it goes,” he said.
CU now has 14 offensive linemen projected to be on scholarship in the fall.
Picking it up
Earlier this week, head coach Karl Dorrell said the offensive line looks like a different group this spring. Left tackle Jake Wiley gives some credit to DeVan, but also said the players were determined to be better after a rough 2021 season.
“I think we all just lit a fire under ourselves and just said, ‘What we did wasn’t good last year. We’ve got to pick that up,’” Wiley said. “I think we took it upon ourselves to really get it going with the team and try to carry the team on our backs and just kind of make sure they can lean on us while not having to worry about us.”
Making the jump
Last year, safety Trevor Woods made some big plays as a true freshman. He’s taking the next step in his game this spring, however.
“I think the biggest jump that he’s made is his eye discipline and his man-to-man cover skills,” CU safeties coach Brett Maxie said. “He spent a lot of time this offseason working on that. … He has a natural feel for the game. He has probably the best hands that I’ve ever seen for a safety. The communication piece of it has really been good for him.”
Woods played 139 snaps last year and is in line for a bigger role this year.
“With him having some planning experience, he feels a little bit more comfortable than most of them,” Maxie said. “So he’s going to look a little bit different in terms of movement and communication and getting guys lined up.”
Going from one Pac-12 school to another hasn’t been a big deal for cornerbacks coach Rod Chance. He spent the past two years coaching the corners at Oregon before coming to CU this offseason, where he’s been reunited with his mentor, Maxie.
“It’s been seamless,” said Chance, who has also worked with Dorrell in the past. “I say that actually truthfully. When you’ve got people in the building that you’ve got a great relationship with, it makes the transition very easy. Brett and I have worked on the same system before. Some of our language may have changed but we can bring each other right back to the genesis of our system — the system that we all come from, so it’s been a really smooth transition. When it hasn’t been, verbiage wise, Brett’s been able to kind of just bring me back to the system that we’ve worked in the past and really make sure the information correlates.”