With several safeties moving on after last season, the Colorado Buffaloes don’t have a lot of experience in the back end of their defense.
That has opened the door for several players getting opportunities, including a pair of walk-ons from Durango High School who at this time a year ago were playing on offense.
Redshirt freshmen Ben Finneseth and Jordan Woolverton are both thriving on defense this offseason and providing some depth for the Buffs.
Woolverton spent much of last season as the Buffs’ third-string quarterback because CU was so short on numbers at the position. Now, the Buffs are fully stocked at quarterback and in the spring Woolverton moved to safety.
“He has unbelievable movement skills in space and his ball skills are impeccable,” safeties coach Brett Maxie said.
In 2020, Woolverton led Durango to the Class 3A state title and was the CHSAA player of the year in 3A. He starred at quarterback, but also at safety, where he picked off seven passes.
Woolverton had some big plays in the spring showcase in April and has continued to make plays in preseason camp.
Maxie made the same transition as a young player, going from quarterback to defensive back in college and said he’s not surprised by Woolverton’s ability to adjust.
“I think it’s an added dimension that you can have by playing an offensive position, especially at the quarterback position,” Maxie said. “The anticipation is there. His work ethic is going to be there from a mental standpoint because that’s just who quarterbacks are. They have to be the leaders and he has done an outstanding job. I’m proud of him.”
Finneseth has made a smooth transition from receiver to safety, but is currently nursing an injury and not participating in practices. Maxie said the Buffs hope to have Finneseth back soon.
In addition to catching 67 passes for 1,012 yards during his career at Durango (mostly from Woolverton), Finneseth racked up 134 tackles, three interceptions and six forced fumbles on defense. Like Woolverton, he earned all-state honors as a senior.
After transferring from Big 12 champion Baylor, CU receiver RJ Sneed will play his first game as a Buff on Sept. 2 against TCU — which is also from the Big 12. Sneed said he is looking forward to the Pac-12 schedule later in the season, however. “The change of scenery; that’s different,” he said. “I’m going to new stadiums I’ve never been to. I get to experience a Colorado game and never been to a Colorado game. So I’m excited for it.” … Sneed went 1-4 against TCU while at Baylor. … On Saturday, the Buffs will have their first scrimmage of preseason camp, at Folsom Field. The scrimmage is closed to the public.