LOS ANGELES – This summer, Colorado linebacker Robert Barnes would often arrive at the Champions Center at 7 a.m. to get in a workout.
When he got there, transfer Josh Chandler-Semedo was often there, as well.
“It was a joy to see me get there at 7 a.m. and he’s there with me,” Barnes said during Pac-12 media day on Friday. “That was him. I didn’t tell him to. We just show up early at the same time and I think that already built that chemistry. I’ve got a guy that’s riding with me and he’s gonna work just as hard as me, as well.”
While Barnes and Quinn Perry are team leaders at inside linebacker for the Buffs, it is Chandler-Semedo who leads the way in terms of experience.
Chandler-Semedo played in 44 games at West Virginia, with 31 starts and he was the Mountaineers’ active leader in career tackles with 260. Last season, he was a 13-game starter, finishing with 110 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three pass breakups. He was voted All-Big 12 honorable mention by coaches.
CU added Chandler-Semedo to help ease the loss of Nate Landman, an All-Pac-12 linebacker who graduated after last season.
“He’s gonna be really good,” head coach Karl Dorrell said. “He’s made a big impact already. Josh has done everything that I was hoping that he would be. When we brought him in on the visit, he showed such strong leadership qualities even then.
“He would watch tape with us and … he has a lot of traits like Nate in terms of his knowledge and football IQ. He has natural leadership qualities. … It’s gonna be a really positive addition for us.”
Landman, meanwhile, still provided some leadership this summer. Landman, who was signed by the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in the spring, spent two weeks at CU this summer for training. Dorrell said that was impactful for the current CU players.
“(He was) around our guys, telling them about his experience with the Falcons, telling them about what he should have done better here at Colorado; he was pointing to the players to pick up where he left off,” Dorrell said. “I think he’s done the best thing that any former player can do, to help set the stage for the next group.”
Dorrell is excited about the next group, which is led by Barnes, Chandler-Semedo and Perry.
“We feel we’re in great shape,” he said. “We feel that the depth at the linebacker position is the best it’s been since I’ve been here. We think that the quality of talent at that position is much, much better, too.”
Jarek Broussard, who led the Buffs in rushing the past two seasons, has graduated and transferred to Michigan State, which opens the door for other running backs.
Dorrell said that senior Alex Fontenot and junior Deion Smith lead the group, but there is excitement about the younger players, too. Sophomore Jayle Stacks and true freshmen Anthony Hankerson and Victor Venn will also battle for playing time.
“It’s a hungry group,” Dorrell said. “They understand with Jarek Broussard moving on, graduating and moving on, now it’s their chance to rise and shine and they’re excited about that opportunity.”
Soaking it in
Every year, two players from each team attend Pac-12 media day. Barnes and guard Casey Roddick represented the Buffs and said they enjoyed being in the spotlight and making the rounds with TV, radio and print media.
“It’s been a blessing being out here,” Barnes said. “It’s my first media day, so it’s been fun out here in L.A. getting to know all these players and coaches. It’s getting me excited for this season.”
Roddick said it was a “great experience,” but he took a business-like approach to the opportunity.
“We’re here for a reason: to talk to the media and exemplify what’s happening up in Colorado,” he said. “I’m excited to show everybody and then also communicate with everybody about the work that we put in.”