With the Colorado Buffaloes’ spring practice in the books, here’s what we know and what we learned about the reigning Pac-12 South champions as we head into summer drills.
Colorado got noticed nationally in 2016, unexpectedly winning 10 games and the Pac-12 South Division. The trick now for the Buffaloes will be to remain hungry, focused and competitive after losing a swath of assistant coaches and key players to graduation.
Colorado Buffaloes Spring Practice Redux
1. CB Isaiah Oliver Set For Stardom
The Buffs were hit hard in the secondary by graduation, losing three defensive backs who received NFL Combine invites. But the cupboard won’t be empty in the defensive backfield.
True, Colorado has enormous holes to fill. However, one man’s hole is another man’s opportunity. The safeties should be fine with seniors Afolabi Laguda and Ryan Moeller. And Oliver headlines a collection of corners brimming with upside potential. The 6-1, 190-pound junior has the size and the talent, both as a pass defender and a return man, to join his former teammates at the next level. Oliver is relishing his expanded spotlight so far in 2017, while also mentoring young corners, like Tony Julmisse and Trey Udoffia.
2. QB Steven Montez Has Made Important Offseason Strides
Last fall, Montez filled in admirably as a redshirt freshman when starter Sefo Liufau was dinged up. This season, the El Paso product is determined to keep the Buff attack humming without interruption.
Montez started three games as a rookie, showcasing a live arm and unexpected athleticism for a 6-5 quarterback. He looked even better in March. The ball was jumping out of his hand in practice, and he passed the eye test in terms of offseason conditioning. In total, Montez looked like a maturing passer whose tighter mechanics should result in improved accuracy and greater production in the fall. He is Colorado’s guy behind center, and he has the returning receivers in 2017 to be even more prolific than Liufau.
3. Deep Receiving Corps Gets More Crowded
Montez will have to diplomatically spread his passes around this season, or else some of his targets could become ornery.
Four Colorado wide receivers, led by Shay Fields and Devin Ross, caught at least 30 balls in 2016. All of them are still in Boulder. And yet, the battle for touches in the passing game has become even more intense with the offseason emergence of second-year Kabion Ento, a rangy former transfer from East Central (Miss.) Community College. The light appears to have gone on for the senior, who made big plays in nearly every practice, culminating in spring offensive MVP honors. There’s plenty of competition on the outside, which is only making Ento work harder for a spot in the rotation.