Buffs Depth Chart For Opener Boasts Plenty Of Experience
BOULDER — Colorado's first depth chart of the season sports plenty of experience at the top, with at least eight — and possibly as many as 10 — of the starting positions held by seniors or graduate transfers.
But overall, the Buffs are once again loaded with more underclassmen than upperclassmen. Of the 81 players listed on the depth chart for CU's Sept. 2 opener at home against TCU (8 p.m., ESPN), there are 33 freshmen, 23 sophomores, eight juniors, 12 seniors and six grad transfers. The breakdown marks the seventh time in the last nine seasons that CU has had more underclassmen than upperclassmen listed.
Still, the two-deep boasts a healthy dose of players with plenty of collegiate snaps under their belts. That includes at least 10 positions manned by players who have started at least six games in a season — and possibly several more, depending upon who makes the start at positions where the top spot is still listed as a tie between two players.
Maybe the most experienced spot in terms of starters will be the defensive line, where the three players atop the depth chart — Terrance Lang, Na'im Rodman and Jalen Sami — have combined for 60 starts in their careers.
On the flip side, three of CU's starters in the secondary — corners Kaylin Moore and Nikko Reed and safety Trevor Woods — have a combined four career starts between them.
The positions with the starter still to be determined include quarterback, running back, center, right guard, one of the inside linebacker spots and the edge rusher. CU head coach Karl Dorrell indicated earlier this week that he may not reveal his starting quarterback until game day, and the same could go for the other spots still up in the air.
The positions still with two possible starters are a sign of the depth Dorrell is building in Boulder, especially when it is taken into consideration that several of those spots have returning starters or players with ample experience as one of the possibilities.
There are also a handful of spots that could see players making their collegiate starting debuts. Sophomore Montana Lemonious-Craig is listed at the top spot at "Z" wide receiver, sophomore Austin Johnson is listed as a co-No. 1 at both center and right guard, junior Deion Smith is a possible No. 1 at running back and sophomore Marvin Ham II is listed as the top "Sam" inside linebacker.
One reason for the large numbers of underclassmen is the free year of eligibility granted after the 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Also a factor is a relatively new rule that a player may participate in up to four games in a season and still count that year as a redshirt season.
That, combined with redshirt years granted due to injury, means there are a handful of players who have been on CU's roster since the 2017 season. That group includes wide receivers Maurice Bell and Jaylon Jackson, running back Alex Fontenot, defensive end Terrance Lang and safety Isaiah Lewis.