New Colorado offensive coordinator Sean Lewis spoke at length earlier this month about how he was refraining from watching game film of his new players, explaining he preferred to keep an unfiltered, objective viewpoint once he got the Buffaloes on the field.
One of Lewis’ new work mates, assistant head coach and running backs coach Gary Harrell, had a different approach. He took a few video peeks at CU’s returning running backs. But his gaze didn’t linger.
Following the fourth and final first-week spring practice for the Buffaloes on Friday, Harrell met the media before the Buffaloes went into a one-week spring break pause on their workouts.
“I watched a little just to see what type of guy they are, but I didn’t watch much,” Harrell said. “I didn’t judge them based on their past experience. I just don’t think that their results in the past is going to be indicative of their future. I want to make sure I give them a fair play. We want to make sure we don’t jump the gun and see what they cannot do. Just go through the process and it will take care of itself.
“And I think today showed once that the pads come on, the energy level goes up, and the competition rises also. I think the guys did a great job as far as stepping up to the challenge.”
While new quarterback Shedeur Sanders, potential two-way star Travis Hunter and speedy South Florida transfer Jimmy Horn Jr. are taking the spotlight in the up-tempo attack being instilled by Lewis, Harrell’s running backs room might ultimately prove to be the most talented and versatile position group on the offense.
Among the returnees from last season are four of the Buffs’ top five leaders in rushing yards, including leading rusher Deion Smith (393 yards), Anthony Hankerson (274), Charlie Offerdahl (150) and Jayle Stacks (114). This spring, the Buffs have added to the mix prized recruit Dylan Edwards, who was committed to Notre Dame before flipping to CU following the hiring of Deion Sanders on Dec. 3. This summer, CU is set to add Kentucky transfer Kavosiey Smoke.
It has been a jam-packed week of installing sets and plays while ramping back up to in-season form. Harrell said that on Friday, Smith (hamstring) and Edwards (illness) were sidelined, opening the door for Hankerson and Offerdahl to make a mark with big plays.
“The word for the day that Coach Prime put up was ‘finish’,” Harrell said. “I think they showed that. We’ve seen the long runs with Hankerson and Charlie Offerdahl, just to finish and it became contagious.”
Now the challenge for the Buffs will be to retain, and build upon, the first week of work under the new coaching staff during spring break. Harrell promised those who slack off during the off-week will be in for a rude welcome when the team reconvenes.
“That’s the message — don’t lose what we’ve poured into you. Especially from the assignment part,” Harrell said. “First and foremost, stay safe. Don’t go and do anything that’s going to be detrimental to yourself or the program. But just stay in your playbook. Coach Prime put some things on them. They have to work at least three or four days throughout the week and send that video in.
“So we always monitor them and try to encourage them to do different things to stay in shape. Because that first day on Monday, trust and believe it’s going to be something special for them when they get back.”