On Tuesday, the Colorado football team opens preseason camp.
Over the next month, the Buffaloes will have 25 practices in preparation for the Sept. 2 opener against TCU. Here’s a primer for preseason camp:
Key position battles
- 1. Quarterback: Sophomore Brendon Lewis started all 12 games a year ago and head coach Karl Dorrell said Lewis is “in the driver’s seat,” but junior JT Shrout will get a shot to win the job.
- 2. Cornerback: There is very little experience across the board. True sophomores Kaylin Moore and Nikko Reed gained experience last year, as did junior Nigel Bethel Jr., and they lead the group. Several true freshmen could be in the mix, as well.
- 3. Inside linebacker: Quinn Perry is a returning starter. Robert Barnes was a part-time starter last year. And, transfer Josh Chandler-Semedo (from West Virginia) might be the best of the bunch. That group and several youngsters will compete for roles on the depth chart.
- 4. Offensive line: Three starters are back — left tackle Jake Wiley, right guard Casey Roddick and right tackle Frank Fillip — and could be in those same spots. At center, Noah Fenske and Austin Johnson will continue their battle from spring. Transfer Tommy Brown could start at left guard but won’t be healthy at the start of the camp, so that opens the door for someone else to get key reps.
- 5. Receiver: Senior transfer RJ Sneed isn’t available at the start of camp because of injury. That leaves senior Daniel Arias (28 career catches) as the most experienced returner. Seniors Maurice Bell and Jaylon Jackson are back from injury, while sophomores Montana Lemonious-Craig, Chase Penry and Ty Robinson are looking to take another step forward. True freshmen Grant Page, Chase Sowell and Jordyn Tyson will also fight for playing time.
Players to watch
- WR Daniel Arias: He had a great spring and is looking to keep that momentum going.
- CB Nigel Bethel Jr.: Was in the midst of a good season as the No. 3 corner last year before a season-ending injury. He could be a leader and playmaker in the secondary.
- ILB Josh Chandler-Semedo: Transfer from West Virginia could be a leader in the middle of the defense.
- RT Frank Fillip: Nine-game starter in 2021 was never fully healthy last year. If he’s healthy, he’ll solidify the right side of the line.
- RB Alex Fontenot: The Buffs’ leading rusher in 2019 is eager to prove himself as the top back again.
- DE Terrance Lang: Sixth-year senior wants more production than last year. He needs a big camp to set the tone.
- TE Erik Olsen: Behind senior Brady Russell, the Buffs need another tight end to step up and Olsen could be the top candidate.
- CB Nikko Reed: True sophomore flashed his talent at the end of last season and now needs to prove himself as a full-time starter.
- DL Na’im Rodman: One of the Buffs most improved players a year ago will look to get even better.
- WR Jordyn Tyson: True freshman has turned some heads in summer workouts.
LT Jake Wiley: Started all 12 games last year with mixed results. Buffs need him to have a great camp.
- S Trevor Woods: Another sophomore who flashed last year. He’s got a chance to be an impact player if he can win a starting job.
- Mike Sanford is the new offensive coordinator and head coach Karl Dorrell said, “We did change our offense completely from scratch. It’s a new system. We’re excited about that process of how the players have taken that information … and digested it and performed it and continue to do that.”
- Chris Wilson returns as defensive coordinator, but the Buffs have shifted from a 3-4 base to a 4-3. “I think coach Wilson has done a great job of putting the guys on our depth chart in a great position to succeed and make plays,” Barnes said. “Ultimately his biggest thing is he wants playmakers not play managers.”
- The Buffs return 10 full-time starters and six others who started at least three games in 2021. Overall, 23 players who started at least one game last year are back, in addition to Cole Becker, who handled all of the place kicking duties.
- A few key dates over the next month: Aug. 8, first day in full pads; Aug. 13, first scrimmage (closed to public); Aug. 19, Boulder Chamber Kickoff Luncheon; Sept. 2, season opener, vs. TCU at Folsom Field, 8 p.m. (TV-ESPN).