Big 12: Demetrius Sumler
But the Colorado running back still rushed for more than 800 yards and scored nine touchdowns, both career highs. This offseason, the Buffaloes talented backfield thinned out with the departures of running backs Demetrius Sumler and Darrell Scott, who came to Colorado ranked No. 9 in the 2008 ESPNU 150 and the No. 2 running back.
“I’m the most experienced [running back], so I kind of feel like a leader,” Stewart said.
The junior known around Boulder as “Speedy” could be a key cog in the Colorado offense.
This spring, with just four running backs practicing, Stewart isn’t getting as much action as he’d want. That will change soon.
“You always want to get the ball to your playmakers, so we try, whether you want to hand it to him or throw it to him, and he’s been doing a good job in the return game, too,” said Colorado coach Dan Hawkins. “He’s good with the ball in his hands, so we’ll try to get the ball to him.”
And with Hawkins’ commitment to get him the ball, combined with Scott and Sumler freeing up 59 carries from a season ago, Stewart's 198 carries could rise.
Stewart said he was “disappointed” his friends chose to leave the program, but understood they wanted to make an impact elsewhere.
Stewart caught just 12 passes in 2009, and that number should rise, too.
“This spring I’m focused on catching the ball out of the backfield, completing all my pass blocks, whether its cutting the guy and getting him down or lighting him up,” Stewart said. “We’ve done a lot more screens in practice, and they’re getting the ball to me a lot more on spot routes. Behind the line of scrimmage and things like that.”
Next up: Colorado
Weak: Running back
Rodney Stewart rushed for a respectable 804 yards in 2009, topping 100 yards in five games. But Stewart’s backups, Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler, both left Boulder in the offseason, leaving Dan Hawkins with just three scholarship backs to employ during spring practice. Outside of Stewart, Brian Lockridge is the only one with experience, and he carried the ball just 12 times for 53 yards in 2009.
Colorado was 11th in the Big 12 in total rushing yards last season, but averaged more than half a yard less per carry than any other team in the conference and rushed for the fewest touchdowns (14). Hardly anyone uses just one running back anymore, and Stewart will need help from someone when the season arrives. If no one can give it to him, and Stewart is forced to miss time with injury, 2010 could be another long year for Colorado, which finished 3-9 overall and 2-6 in Big 12 play last year.
Strong: Left tackle
Nate Solder enters his junior season as a two-year starter at tackle after transitioning to the position from tight end. Solder earned All-Big 12 honors as a junior, but even at 6-foot-9 and 305 pounds, he can’t block all 11 players lined up across from him. His unit gave up 44 sacks in 2009, 12 more than any other team in the conference.
Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner returns after missing much of 2009 with knee injuries, and JUCO transfer Eric Richter, a 6-foot-4, 315-pounder from California, could inject some hope into the rest of the Buffaloes' line.
More Weak & Strong:
Junior quarterback Tyler Hansen showed flashes of greatness last season, throwing for more than 250 yards in three of the Buffaloes final four games, including 269 against Big 12 North champ Nebraska. This year, he’ll get to throw to Toney Clemons, a Michigan transfer who coach Dan Hawkins has lauded since Clemons’ arrival.
The chemistry between the two that begins this spring could determine how much damage Colorado can do in a Big 12 that should be stocked with solid defenses again in 2010.
An added bonus: All spring practices will be open, beginning with Saturday’s two-hour practice at 10 a.m. Just don’t get caught with a cell phone, pet or a camera, unless you’re also a fan of Hawkins’ bad side.
Scott told the Boulder Camera he has no plans to return to the Colorado team he left last season after playing five games while struggling with injuries.
"Nope, not at all," Scott told the Camera when asked if there was any truth to an anonymous report that was given by Denver station KCNC. "It is a lie. I don't plan on coming back."Scott has been the most-heralded recruit signed during Hawkins' tenure, but struggled through two injury-plagued seasons with the Buffaloes. He rushed for only 95 yards last season, rushing for most of those yards against Toledo. He injured his knee in that game and underwent minor surgery before leaving the team in November.
The Camera also reported that senior running back Demetrius Sumler has appealed the decision where his Colorado scholarship was revoked by Hawkins for the spring semester. Sumler announced last month that he planned to graduate from Colorado this spring and then transfer to another program for his senior season next fall, utilizing an NCAA rule that allows graduates with remaining eligibility to make a move. Kansas State quarterback Grant Gregory utilized the rule to transfer to the Wildcats from South Florida for his senior season last fall.
The departure of Sumler and Scott's rebuff of the Buffaloes' program has placed a huge priority heading into spring camp for running backs. Hawkins added four running backs among his Class of 2010 who could arrive when fall camp begins in August. But in the spring, the Buffaloes will have three scholarship running backs on their roster -- projected starter Rodney "Speedy" Stewart, Brian Lockridge and Corey Nabors.
Here are some of the better offerings from the last several days.
Victor Romero from Boulder, Colo., writes: Hey Tim, If Darrell Scott were to come back to the Buffs, I think the Boulder community would rejoice and might actually soften its "Fire Dan Hawkins" stance a little bit, as it could be seen as Hawk getting Scott into the program twice.
I still think the kid could be a special back, and if he's eligible next season should get 15-20 carries per game. The fact that he wasn't is the biggest reason he wanted to transfer. I think he sees Demetrius Sumler's transfer as the opportunity to get those carries that Hawkins kept from him. What do you think?
Tim Griffin: Victor, you raise a very interesting point. Obviously Rodney “Speedy” Stewart will be the Buffaloes’ No. 1 back coming into the season. But there are still a lot of carries for another back. Scott averaged 7. 9 carries in 2008 as a freshman and saw those numbers drop to 4.6 carries per game in an injury-riddled 2009 before he quit the team.
I agree that Scott could be a productive back if he’s healthy and used correctly. But I don’t see him as a player who could withstand 25 to 30 carries per game.
It will be interesting to see if he returns to the Colorado program. There has been limited interest from other schools. That might lead me to believe that the best place for him is Colorado -- if he and Hawkins can put their differences behind them.
Brad Williamson of Killeen, Texas, writes: Tim, I claim to not get confused about things, but when I do become confused, I make it a point to do my research to find the answer myself. However, there have been a few blog postings you've put on here that I will freely admit I am at a loss on. You have mentioned how Eric Morris and Graham Harrell have been hired by Houston and (I believe) Oklahoma State as assistant coaches.
However, both of those players played last year and are currently still on the roster for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL. I bleed Red and Black and like to follow the pro careers of former Tech players, but I was wondering if you know how this works. Are both players still playing for Saskatchewan and on staff with the schools, or have they given up their roster spots? I know most people don't care about the CFL, but I was just curious, and it gives me an opportunity to type Saskatchewan a few times. Thanks for your blog!
Tim Griffin: Both Morris and Harrell have given up their professional football careers to start coaching careers with Oklahoma State and Houston.
Both had a chance to play a little in the CFL, but have decided that starting a coaching career is their best path to future employment. I think it's a wise choice for Morris and Harrell.
And I know all about Saskatchewan and Taylor Field. I was in Regina on a windy day back in 1995 when the Baltimore Stallions became the only American team to win the Grey Cup by beating Doug Flutie and the Calgary Stampeders. It remains one of the most vivid memories of my reporting career.
Jon from Topeka, Kan., writes: Do you see more kids signing up and playing soccer in Nebraska than ever before, because of Ndamukong Suh? And where do you think Neb will finish out next season? Can they be a top 5 team?
Tim Griffin: Maybe those kids have seen the value of playing soccer because of Suh, or maybe the multipurpose kicking talents Alex Henery developed before beginning his football career. Both are role models for what soccer players can later accomplish if they decide to play football.
And as far as Nebraska next season, I think the Cornhuskers will be the team to beat in the Big 12 North, but top five might be a little optimistic. I’ll say they will be a top 12-15 team and finish up with a 10-2 record. That should be good enough to get them back in the Big 12 championship game for a second straight season.
Josh Saunders from Tampa, Fla., writes: Tim, in last week’s mailbag, you stated that "Nebraska desperately needs those big-time receivers to consistently challenge Texas and Oklahoma." Correct me if I'm wrong, but Nebraska beat Oklahoma and had Texas beat until the officials (rightly or wrongly) put one second back on the clock. And they did this with an injury-plagued offense that was the worst statistically at NU in almost 40 years. What gives?
Tim Griffin: I hope you noticed that the key word in my answer is “consistently.” Before last season’s victory in Lincoln, the Sooners had won the last four games in the Nebraska series. Texas’ victory in the 2009 Big 12 championship game is the Longhorns’ fifth straight against Nebraska. During the Big 12 era, Texas has won eight of its last nine games against the Cornhuskers with the only loss coming in the 1999 Big 12 title game.
I still think the Cornhuskers need more offensive firepower to compete against the very best teams in the Big 12 -- which in the last decade has been Texas and Oklahoma. Both those teams have the offensive pop to make big plays on a consistent basis. The Cornhuskers need a couple of playmakers to get closer to both of them. That’s still the biggest deficiency I see in Nebraska as the Cornhuskers prepare for the 2010 season.
Ryan S. Williams of Keller, Texas, writes: Hey Tim, thanks for the updates in this college football downtime. I'm a longtime Kansas fan and I'm hoping you could give your opinion on the KU running game this upcoming season. Do you think Toben Opurum will be the lead back with a few doses of Brandon Bourbon or do you think it will be a legitimate two-back system?
Personally I feel like KU should use a lot more of a ground game this season. Thanks for your input and keep it coming.
Tim Griffin: I look for the Jayhawks to run more of a balanced offense this season, along the lines of the one that Chuck Long ran when he was at Oklahoma and at San Diego State. In both situations, Long tried to run the ball to set up the pass.
I know Jake Sharp will be gone from next season’s team, but the Jayhawks return all five starting offensive linemen and their starting tight end. I think a running game also would relieve some of the pressure on the Kansas quarterback -- whether it’s Kale Pick or Quinn Mecham -- as they try to get acclimated to running Long’s offense.
Look for Opurum to get the first shot at becoming the Jayhawks’ featured back. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bourbon get more and more carries as the season progresses.
Thanks again for the consistently good questions. I appreciate them all.
Denver television station KCNC reports that Scott has not been reinstated, as Hawkins wanted to meet with other coaches and players before making a final decision.
The Boulder Camera reported that Scott was not enrolled for spring classes at Colorado at the close of business operations on Monday. Scott would need permission from a dean to enroll in classes at this point.
Scott quit the Colorado team last season after five games after injuries limited him to only 95 rushing yards in five games in his sophomore season.
He arrived as the top recruit in Colorado's 2008 recruiting class. He was rated as the nation's top running back recruit after rushing for more than 7,600 yards and 99 touchdowns at St. Bonaventure High School in Ventura, Calif. The Buffaloes beat out a host of suitors for Scott, who was the top recruit to be attracted by Hawkins during his coaching tenure.
If Scott were invited back into the program, he could play or redshirt during the 2010 season. The NCAA allows a "missed term exception" for every student-athlete one time during their careers. That would mean that Scott could take summer school classes later this season and likely make enough progress toward his degree to be academically eligible for the Buffaloes' 2010 season.
Scott has never fulfilled the promise that marked him coming into the program, struggling with injuries as he's rushed for 438 yards and one touchdown during his career. He was beaten out for the starting position last fall by Rodney "Speedy" Stewart.
But his return would be critical for backfield depth for the Buffaloes, who have already lost running back Demetrius Sumler to transfer last month.
Total class: 21
ESPN 150: 0
By position: TE 3, RB 3, ATH 2, WR 2, OT 2, G 2, LB 2, DE 2, QB 1, CB 1, K 1
By state: California 8, Colorado 2, Texas 2, Hawaii 1, Ohio 1, New Jersey 1, Louisiana 1, Arizona 1, Alabama 1, Florida 1, North Carolina 1, Maryland 1.
Already enrolled in school: 2.
The big ones: QB Nick Hirschman, the nation’s No. 26 quarterback, has already enrolled in college with hopes of getting a head start at playing time. WR Harold Mobley, the nation’s No. 64 wide receiver, is the physical kind of pass-catcher who will mesh well with Marques Simas as a pair of bookend receivers.
Sleeper: K Justin Castor will receive the chance to contend for immediate playing time as he battles slump-ridden Aric Goodman for playing time.
Needs met: After losing Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler, the Buffaloes needed depth at running back and met it with the addition of underrated Tony Jones and sleepers Trea Jones and Justin Torres. Six tight ends or H-backs graduated from the team last year and coach Dan Hawkins addressed the need with three players keyed by three-star recruit Justin Favors, the nation's No. 38 tight end. Hirschman will help at quarterback, but the Buffaloes missed out on Munchie Legaux, a late defection to Cincinnati.
Analysis: The critics are out after Hawkins’ class, which featured no recruits with more than three stars and only two players from Colorado. It was the first time in Hawkins’ tenure the Buffaloes failed to crack the top 50 nationally in recruiting rankings. And they were hurt by the defection of RB Mister Jones (Texas A&M) and QB Danny Spond (Notre Dame), two top in-state prospects who both chose to go elsewhere after originally committing to the Buffaloes.
What Dan Hawkins said: "Athletically, top to bottom, they might be the most-athletic class we have had. ... There are a ton of guys you miss on. There are always guys that you don't get and that's the nature every year. ... Everyone around America is fired up on signing day with optimism. I think with this class, there is just a tremendous amount of quality there and I am very impressed by the kind of people they are."
Scouts Inc. grade/rankings: C-minus, ninth in Big 12.
Here's a look at what immediate recruiting needs each North Division team must address first.
Running back: With the departure of Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler, Dan Hawkins needs to find some talent at running back. With only three scholarship backs on the roster, an immediate talent infusion is needed. Tony Jones is the only commitment and the Buffaloes could use size from a bigger back.
Tight end/H-back: All of the positions are important in Kent Riddle’s offense, and six players graduated from those positions in December. The only player who will return with experience includes junior tight end Ryan Deehan, so Hawkins needs players at the position who can help immediately.
Quarterback: With Tyler Hansen set at quarterback and Cody Hawkins set to graduate after next season, the Buffaloes still would like to add some depth at the position. Nick Hirschman has enrolled early to get a head start on his development, and Josh Moten appears ready to enroll after failing to make his grades before last season.
Across the board talent infusion: The Cyclones already have added 24 commitments for the upcoming season. Junior college players like massive offensive lineman Jon Caspers, defensive end Rony Nelson, wide receiver Anthony Young and tight end Ricky Howard should provide an immediate lift. And look for coach Paul Rhoads to add a couple of more to capitalize on the late momentum from the Insight Bowl victory.
Running back: Preparing for the future will be important as Alexander Robinson will be entering his senior season. Freshmen Beau Blankenship still has some developing to do and Jeremiah Schwartz has left the program. The Cyclones have added depth with the addition of Duran Hollis and Shontrelle Johnson. Don’t be surprised if Hollis moves positions once he comes to college if Johnson develops as expected.
Wide receiver: The Cyclones had trouble making big plays and could use a talent boost at the position. Leading 2009 receiver Marquis Hamilton has graduated and Jake Williams will be a senior next season. Recruits Jarvis West and Chris Young appear to have addressed those needs.
Defensive end: The Jayhawks could use a talent upgrade here with occasional starters Jeff Wheeler and Maxwell Onyegbule graduated, and Jake Laptad and Quintin Woods entering their senior seasons in 2010. It became more of a need after Oklahoma beat out the Jayhawks for top defensive end prospect Geneo Grissom earlier this week.
Quarterback: With unproven Kale Pick set to take over for Todd Reesing, the Jayhawks have added junior college transfer Quinn Mecham of Snow Junior College to immediately contend for playing time. Meacham threw for 3,091 yards and 40 touchdowns last season and has already captured the attention of new offensive coordinator Chuck Long because of his experience in the spread offense.
Secondary: New coach Turner Gill also needs help in the secondary where starters Darrell Stuckey and Justin Thornton were seniors and Philip Strozier, Chris Harris and Calvin Rubles will be seniors next season.
Adjust time-held notions to recruiting: Bill Snyder said recruiting seemed “out of kilter” in his first season back because of how teams now are in a hurry to link up with rising juniors. This strategy has caused Snyder to change his recruiting strategy, looking into signing more players earlier than in his previous coaching strategy.
Junior-college additions again will be critical in the trenches: Snyder has attacked the junior colleges with his traditional fervor as he attempts to unearth a couple of under-recruited gems in the offensive line and defensive lines -- the Wildcats’ two primary needs. Also, the Wildcats need some immediate help from the junior colleges after a recruiting imbalance during the last two seasons under Ron Prince that has left them with a need for immediate contributors. Snyder has estimated that up to 13 players will enroll at the semester break to contend immediately for playing time.
Quarterback: Even with a crowded group of potential contenders at the position, Snyder is still considering another quarterback. Carson Coffman, Sammuel Lamur, Collin Klein and Oregon transfer Chris Harper all are in the mix at the position heading into spring practice.
Wide receiver: The Tigers have a lot of talent returning, but still will lose leading 2009 receiver Danario Alexander and Jared Perry. The opportunity for eventual playing time will be there for new arrivals, although Jerrell Jackson, Brandon Gerau, T.J. Moe and Wes Kemp will be back.
Nose tackle: The graduation of Jaron Baston and Bart Coslet’s senior-to-be status opens up a position for a contribution in the trenches for the Tigers.
Secondary: All four of Missouri’s projected starters next season -- cornerbacks Carl Gettis and Kevin Rutland and safety Jarrell Harrison and Jasper Simmons -- will be seniors. The Tigers need to restock depth at the position and perhaps move it forward from this class.
Defensive end: The Cornhuskers could use an additional player with Barry Turner graduating and Pierre Allen set to enter his senior season in 2010. They are in the hunt with Oregon for Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a heralded speed rusher from Portland, Ore., who would be the crown jewel in the Cornhuskers’ incoming class if he commits.
Wide receivers: Many players are back, although the Cornhuskers could use an infusion of speed at the position. Niles Paul will be a senior and more talent is needed to make the Cornhuskers competitive with the athletic teams in the South Division like Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
Safety: Starters Matt O’Hanlon and Larry Asante both will be graduating and Eric Hagg will be a senior in 2010. The Cornhuskers will need some help to join with youngsters Courtney Osborne, Austin Cassidy and P.J. Smith at the position.
It's funny, but the stream of e-mails hasn't abated with the end of the season. If anything, more people are interested in what is going on with their favorite teams and players.
Here's a representative sample of some of the better missives I've received over the last couple of days.
Jason from Fort Worth, Texas, writes: First of all, I enjoy reading your blog everyday. Hopefully next season I will see more posts about Baylor winning games. I'm curious if it has been officially determined that Robert Griffin will get a medical redshirt? And if so, do you see him staying at Baylor all four years?
Tim Griffin: Baylor submitted the paperwork for an injury redshirt for Griffin soon after he got hurt. Heath Nielsen, the intrepid associate athletic director for media affairs at Baylor, tells me the Big 12 approved it in November.
It means Griffin will be classified as a sophomore during the 2010 season. I expect him to rejuvenate the Bears’ offense the minute he steps on the field.
And if he played like he did as a freshman and last season, he’ll immediately inject the Bears with the opportunity to challenge for a bowl trip. But I don’t necessarily know if he’ll stay four years. He might develop into a pro football prospect before his eligibility is over. A more likely possibility might be that he elects to compete for the U.S. Olympic team in track and field in 2012.
Johnathan Morrow of Knoxville, Tenn., writes: I agree that the Texas job is more appealing right now and that Will Muschamp probably made the right decision to stay in Texas. But the assumption that the Texas job is better than the Tennessee job could ever possibly be is just that, an assumption, completely void factual information and riddled with bias and speculation.
I firmly believe in the right to express an educated opinion but making predictions from now to the end of time is nothing more than a shot in the dark. Give us some responsible reporting instead of playing this guessing game.
Tim Griffin: Johnathan, thanks for writing and expressing your opinion. But let’s look at the facts in one particular way. I think Tennessee scrambling for its fifth or sixth choice on the coaching job is a pretty good indication of where it ranks among the relative jobs that are out there. By last count -- and this could change after I make this post -- the Volunteers have been turned down by head coaches from Air Force, Utah and Duke (with a Tennessee connection, to boot) along with Muschamp. I can’t see that happening for a top 10 job, and particularly, I could never see it happening for a school like Texas or Florida.
Maybe back in the day when General Bob Neyland was prowling the sidelines, Tennessee was a great job. But in today’s football culture, as we can see by the string of rejections piling up on Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton’s desk, it’s certainly no longer the case
W. Jones of Dallas writes: OK, Tim. We get it. You hate Tech. First, saying you "can't understand why" Tommy Tuberville took the Tech job, and now saying Tech is not a top 30 job but OSU is. Careful, your bias is showing.
Tim Griffin: Sorry, W., but I have no axe to grind with Texas Tech. They handled the coaching switch a little haphazardly, but I’ve got a lot of good friends up on the High Plains. It’s definitely one of my favorite stops along the Big 12 and I’ve enjoyed going up there for more than 20 years.
But the reason I placed Oklahoma State over Texas Tech was simple. Oklahoma State now has better facilities than Texas Tech. It’s obvious when you visit Stillwater. And with a deep-pocketed money guy like T. Boone Pickens, the Cowboys have the Red Raiders beat in that category. Take those two items away and Tech would be even with the Cowboys. Tech barely misses the top 30, but is still a step behind Oklahoma State.
Hondo from Houston writes: Tim is it fair to say that Texas will have the best secondary in the country next season? Led by Aaron Williams and Chykie Brown, the Longhorns will have two shutdown corners.
Tim Griffin: Hondo, I might have agreed with you before last week, but the loss of Earl Thomas strips the Longhorns of their best returning defensive player. I do like Williams, who I think could emerge to become a potential Thorpe Award contender by the time he leaves school. Brown is a solid player, too. Nolan Brewster and Blake Gideon will have to emerge at safety without Thomas. They also need Christian Scott to emerge as a potential big hitter. But there’s still a little bit of a question mark at safety before I give the Longhorns the No. 1 position nationally among secondaries, although I expect Muschamp and Texas defensive backs coach Duane Akina to have their group productive during 2010.
David Harris from Joplin, Mo., writes: Hey Tim, is Mike Leach a candidate for the Tennesse position? It seems like he would be a good fit for their program and his scheme would definitely be new to the SEC. What would you think of his chances?
Tim Griffin: I think if Leach was coming off his success from last season, he probably would have had the opportunity to interview with Tennessee by now. But the baggage Leach is carrying after his ouster at Texas Tech will give most athletic directors a lot of pause before hiring him. I think he’s going to have to take a job as an NFL assistant or as a college coach at a smaller-scale program to rebuild his luster as a BCS-level coach.
Leach's offense technically isn’t new in the SEC. He worked as an offensive coordinator under Hal Mumme when Kentucky used the “Air Raid” attack in the late 1990s with Tim Couch at quarterback. That association helped make Couch a Heisman finalist in 1998. Leach then started his Big 12 career the following season as he joined Bob Stoops’ first coaching staff in 1999.
Steve Summers from Arvada, Colo., writes: Tim, what is up with Darrell Scott. Do you expect him to play at Colorado again?
Tim Griffin: Steve, I would be very surprised. I can't see Dan Hawkins allowing him back in the program, although the depth at the position is lagging after Demetrius Sumler announced he was leaving the program earlier this week.
I think Scott could be productive in the right situation. I was surprised that UCLA had little interest in him when news surfaced about his transfer from the Colorado program.
Remember, this was still one of the nation's top running back prospects in the nation in the 2008 recruiting class. If he is in the right situation, I still think he can flourish.
The question for Scott is, where exactly is that place where he can blossom?
Thanks again for all of the great questions. Enjoy the weekend and check back again early next week for another mailbag.
Several Colorado newspapers have reported that Sumler, who plans to graduate in May, will be looking for a chance to play more in his final season of college eligibility.
The Denver Post reported that Sumler's carries dwindled last season as he was used primarily as a blocking back in passing situations.
Sumler had 36 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown last season. He did not play in the Buffaloes' season-ending loss to Nebraska and had no more than two carries in any of the Buffaloes' final seven games of the season.
His best season came as a redshirt freshman in 2007 when he rushed for 335 yards and four touchdowns. Sumler showed much early promise by rushing for 85 yards against Colorado State in his first college game and 91 yards against Miami (Ohio) later that season.
But his playing time diminished as coach Dan Hawkins began leaning on Rodney "Speedy" Stewart and Brian Lockridge this season.
The Boulder Daily Camera reported that Stewart's departure will make him the ninth scholarship player to transfer from the Colorado program in the past calendar year.
His announcement places pressure on Hawkins to add some backfield depth in the upcoming recruiting period. Signing day is Feb. 3.
Colorado tailback Darrell Scott could miss up to three games after he underwent an arthroscopic procedure for an injured knee.
Colorado coach Dan Hawkins told reporters the surgery would help alleviate an injury that occurred during the Buffaloes' Sept. 11 loss at Toledo.
"They're just going to clean up some stuff; they're not taking anything out," Hawkins said.
Scott produced 85 first-half rushing yards in the Toledo game, but has rushed only nine times for 10 yards since then. He also missed the Buffaloes' victory over Wyoming.
The injury continues the streak of bad luck that seemingly has dogged Scott since his arrival at school. He was one of the nation's top backs when he chose Colorado over Texas in the 2008 recruiting class, but missed much of last season while struggling to remain in playing shape after an injury during training camp.
With Scott's injury earlier this season, Rodney Stewart has taken over the role as the Buffaloes' featured rusher. Scott has averaged nearly 27 yards per return this season to rank second in the Big 12. Colorado's return unit that ranks 27th nationally.
Brian Lockridge will take over the role as the Buffaloes' prime kick returner.
Stewart, Lockridge and Demetrius Sumler will fill the primary roles at running back in Scott's absence when the Buffaloes host Kansas State on Saturday.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here's a look at how I rank the Big 12 offenses heading into the season.
1. Oklahoma State – The conference’s most balanced offense also features the best rushing/receiving combination in Kendall Hunter and Dez Bryant and one of the Big 12's best offensive linemen in Russell Okung. Zac Robinson still has meltdown moments, but he’s gotten much better with experience. The big questions will be finding a No. 2 receiver and a tight end to replace Brandon Pettigrew.
2. Oklahoma: The Sooners have the most productive quarterback in school history in Sam Bradford with the conference’s best backfield combination in Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray and college football’s best tight end in Jermaine Gresham. The offensive line, however, isn’t nearly as good as some from the program's past. The line's development will largely determine if the Sooners can claim four-straight Big 12 titles.
3. Texas: Colt McCoy is back for his fourth season as starter and Jordan Shipley seemingly has been around long enough to collect a pension. That’s a great start. Vondrell McGee has emerged as a steady back who might end up earning the majority of carries running behind a deep offensive line. It will be interesting to see if they can find a tight end who will block consistently enough to keep the team from running multiple wide-receiver sets down the stretch. Developing that bruising running game will be the biggest challenge for the Longhorns.
4. Kansas: Todd Reesing might be the nation’s most underrated quarterback and the development of a tandem backfield in Jake Sharp and Toben Opurum will provide balance to the conference’s best receiving corps. It will be interesting to see how much better Kerry Meier can become by concentrating on offense. He adds with top deep threat Dezmon Briscoe, the underrated Jonathan Wilson and freshman addition Bradley McDougald. The Jayhawks’ title hopes will hinge on better pass blocking, particularly from new left tackle Tanner Hawkinson, a converted high school tight end.
5. Texas Tech: There are more questions with the loss of Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, although Mike Leach seems very happy with Taylor Potts and his current group. The Red Raiders might be deeper at wide receiver with a collection of players than when Crabtree commandeered most of the catches. Baron Batch’s recovery from an elbow injury will be critical, but the Red Raiders have a big nasty offensive front keyed by All-Big 12 candidate Brandon Carter and the underrated Marlon Winn.
6. Baylor: Robert Griffin makes these guys go and he should be even more comfortable in his second season as a starter. Jay Finley might be one of the least-appreciated backs in the league and a deep collection of wide receivers will help boost production. The biggest concern will be the play of tackles Danny Watkins and Phillip Blake, who will be replacing decorated former starters Jason Smith and Dan Gay.
7. Missouri: This offense will be different from the attack in the Chase Daniel era. Look for new coordinator David Yost to utilize a strong running game keyed by Derrick Washington, who is finally healthy after being hurt most of the second half of 2008. New quarterback Blaine Gabbert obviously doesn’t have the experience in the Tigers’ offense as Daniel, but he might have a better deep arm which will give Yost more chances to attack with long passes. It’s a typically deep collection of receivers with Danario Alexander poised for a breakout season if he can stay healthy.
8. Colorado: Other than the fact that Dan Hawkins can’t decide on a starting quarterback, this unit might be a little underrated and ready to blossom. I really like their collection of running backs with Darrell Scott poised to fulfill his recruiting promise. Rodney Stewart and Demetrius Sumler add different running styles behind a nice line keyed by Ryan Miller, Nate Solder and Mike Iltis. The passing game might sputter early as Markques Simas misses the first two games and Andre Simmons plays his way into the rotation after missing most of fall practice. But it might be surprisingly productive by the time conference play rolls around.
9. Nebraska: Lack of an experienced quarterback and tested running backs behind Roy Helu Jr. cause them to drop a little after Quentin Castille’s dismissal. I’m hearing the Cornhuskers will feature more deep passing with Zac Lee, which might allow receivers Menelik Holt and Niles Paul a chance to go deep. The best part of their offense is their five-headed monster at tight end keyed by Mike McNeill and Dreu Young. Ricky Henry’s emergence at right guard has enabled Jacob Hickman to stay at center where he’ll anchor a developing line.
10. Texas A&M: Jerrod Johnson won the starting quarterback job this summer, but I was surprised that Ryan Tannehill will remain behind him as a backup rather than a wide receiver where he was the team’s leading receiver this season. Jeff Fuller might be one of the Big 12’s most underrated wide receivers and Jamie McCoy is a productive, pass-catching tight end. A bigger, stronger Cyrus Gray will get the start at tailback, although heralded freshman Christine Michael will push him for playing time. The biggest question remains an offensive line that struggled with injuries and produced only 89 yards rushing and 39 sacks. If they are healthy, they might be a surprise after last year’s consistent struggles.
11. Iowa State: New coordinator Tom Herman will attempt to retrofit his no-huddle attack that was so successful at Rice for the Cyclones. He has a tough, savvy quarterback in Austen Arnaud and a multi-talented running back in Alexander Robinson. Keep an eye out for Darius Reynolds who has emerged as the team’s slot receiver as Darius Darks overcomes a training-camp injury. The largest offensive line in FBS will be protecting Arnaud, but needs to do a better job of dominating at the point of attack.
12. Kansas State: Carson Coffman and Daniel Thomas were named as starters today by Bill Snyder. Coffman was effective at times last season as Josh Freeman’s backup, but remains a question mark as he takes over the starting job. The position changes of Lamark Brown and Logan Dold opened up the running back job in training camp and the 227-pound Thomas took advantage. Brandon Banks is a strong player who belies his size as a receiver and kick returner. The offensive line remains a question after a season-ending injury to Brock Unruh leaves only Nick Stringer and a cast of unknowns to share playing time.
Colorado's depleted wide receiving corps received a huge boost Tuesday when heralded junior college transfer Andre Simmons was back at practice with his new team.
Simmons was unable to take part in practice drills with his new team as school officials conducted a final review of his academic records and the process leading up to his enrollment.
Colorado coaches hope that Simmons will be able to work with his new teammates as soon as Wednesday to provide additional firepower for a wide receiving corps that will be depleted for the start of the season because of a player transfer and suspension.
Simmons reported with the rest of the Buffaloes on Aug. 6 but has not been able to work out with the team because of an eligibility issue.
On Tuesday, the transfer from Independence (Kan.) Community College appeared without pads and talked with his teammates and coaches throughout the Buffaloes' practice as they prepare for their Sept. 6 opener against Colorado State.
He's exactly what the Buffaloes need to fill their biggest positional void. The Buffaloes have already lost prime playmaker Josh Smith, who transferred to UCLA earlier this summer. And sophomore Markques Simas has been suspended for Colorado's first two games of the upcoming season for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Simmons is counted as the kind of athletic, speedy receiver who will provide a deep threat for a Colorado offense that ranked 81st nationally and 11th among Big 12 teams in passing last season. Colorado returns only one starting wide receiver -- junior Scotty McKnight.
Simmons, a native of Blackville, S.C., was the lone junior college transfer among Colorado's signees after producing 91 receptions during his two seasons at Independence.
"He'll give an instant boost to the wide receiver position, and not to take anything away from the current guys, but he's going to have that vertical speed," Colorado offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau told cubuffs.com.His talents as a kick returner should immediately help fill the absence for Smith, who set a school record with 1,568 return yards last season.
While it's doubtful that Simmons will be able to have much of an immediate contribution, he should be ingrained in the Buffaloes' offense by the time conference play begins.
He and Simas will provide some balance to an offense that figures initially to be heavily ground-based with Darrell Scott, Rodney Stewart and Demetrius Sumler.
That balance will be the key if Colorado hopes to be a dark horse contender in a North Division race that figures to be extremely wide open.
The Buffaloes have a favorable schedule with home games against divisional challengers Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.
And the arrival of Simmons definitely won't hurt their chances.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Both Colorado and Oklahoma were careful not to reveal too much in open practices Thursday.
The Buffaloes scored only one touchdown -- a 1-yard jaunt by tailback Demetrius Sumler -- in a 126-play scrimmage that accounted for 579 total yards.
"We didn't do anything we've been doing in practice," Hawkins said. "When I was looking at the ready list today, it was unbelievably vanilla."
Hawkins completed 21 of 29 passes for 184 yards and no interceptions in his battle with Tyler Hansen, who completed 10 of 15 passes for 137 yards.
Hawkins also was the leading rusher in the scrimmage with 58 yards coming on scrambles. Sumler accounted for a team-high 37 yards to pace the rushing backs. And tailback Darrell Scott led the receivers with six catches for 47 yards.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops allowed the public to watch the first hour of the Sooners' work Thursday evening.
The Sooners' special teams showed flashes during the brief glimpse of their work. Sophomore kicker Jimmy Stevens producing field goals of 50 and 53 yards while the crowds were watching.
And redshirt freshman Tress Way appeared to outkick Cameron Kenney in the battle for the punting job, the Tulsa World reported. Kenney also started in the Sooners' three-wide receiver groupings in Thursday's practice.
With projected starting center Ben Habern still hobbling, sophomore Stephen Good worked with the Sooners' first unit that also included tackles Trent Williams and Cory Brandon and guards Brian Simmons and Jarvis Jones. Williams, the team's most experienced returnee at offensive line, also got a few snaps at center.
And on defense, middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds appears to be rounding into form after missing the second half of last season with a knee injury. Reynolds wore pads, but was replaced by Mike Balogun during the team parts of the drill.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
|AP Photo/Dave Weaver|
|Ndamukong Suh's interception return for a touchdown sealed Nebraska's victory.|
Henery and Suh make Colorado blue
Date: Nov. 28, 2008
Place: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
Score: Nebraska 40, Colorado 31
Nebraska was playing merely to better its bowl position. Colorado wanted to earn a bowl trip. Although the Big 12 North championship game berth wasn't being settled, it still didn't diminish the excitement of last year's game between the two traditional rivals.
Colorado came into the game as an 18-point underdog, but you couldn't tell from the way the Buffaloes scrapped. The Buffaloes produced a couple of big plays -- a 68-yard touchdown pass from Cody Hawkins to Riar Geer and a 36-yard touchdown run by Demetrius Sumler -- in the first five minutes to jump to a quick 14-0 lead.
The Buffaloes' defense allowed the Cornhuskers to advance inside the Colorado 50 on every possession in the game. But a botched fake field goal led to a 24-24 halftime tie when Colorado's Jimmy Smith snatched an errant blind pitch from Jake Wesch and ran 58 yards for a touchdown.
The Buffaloes' defense kept the game within reach in the second half as Nebraska drove inside the Buffaloes' 33-yard line on each of its four possessions but came away with only nine points. Colorado went ahead 31-27 when Sumler knocked in a 4-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
Colorado's defense made that stand for most of the rest of the game. Nebraska pulled within 31-30 when Alex Henery nailed a 37-yard field goal with 8:09 left.
After Nebraska got the ball back, the Cornhuskers were poised to score again after Roy Helu Jr. rambled 25 yards to the Colorado 25 with less than two minutes remaining. But Colorado safety Patrick Mahnke sacked Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz for a 15-yard loss and Ganz threw incomplete on third down, setting up an improbable 57-yard field goal attempt by Henery.
Henery, with a 5 mph wind to his back, blasted the ball through the goal posts with 1:43 left to set the school record and provide Nebraska with a 33-31 lead.
But the Cornhuskers were only getting started. After picking up a first down on the Colorado 33, Hawkins' second-down pass was tipped by Zach Potter and intercepted by massive 305-pound defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
En route to the end zone, Suh eluded a diving Hawkins and scampered 30 yards for the clinching touchdown. It was Suh's second interception return for a touchdown on the season and his third touchdown overall.
The numbers: Nebraska ran 29 more plays than Colorado and the Cornhuskers' 63 snaps in Colorado territory were 15 more than Colorado ran in the entire game. Colorado went more than 10 minutes of game time in the second and third quarters without running an offensive play. Helu rushed for 166 yards and Ganz passed for 229 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the top single-season passer in Nebraska history.
They said it, part I: "I love games like this. The crazier the better. I just wish we had ended it a little bit earlier," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, reflecting on the wild finish with reporters after the game.
They said it, part II: "I don't remember watching it go through at all. I was pretty sure I made it. It was on target. I don't remember much after hitting it." Henery's thoughts after the game-winning kick to reporters after the game.
They said it, part III: "It doesn't surprise me. That guy's a stud," Pelini on Henery's kick.
They said it, part IV: ""He thinks he's Walter Payton." Pelini's comments to the Nebraska State Paper about Suh's game-clinching touchdown return.
The upshot: The victory, combined with Kansas' upset of Missouri the following day, gave the Cornhuskers a share of the Big 12 North title. The Tigers advanced to the championship game after a head-to-head triumph over the Cornhuskers earlier in the season.
But it really didn't matter after the Cornhuskers earned a Gator Bowl berth. They went on to upset Clemson to finish 9-4 for the season. After losing four of six games midway through the season, Nebraska finished with three straight victories to prime enthusiasm after Pelini's first season.
The loss cost Colorado a shot at making a bowl trip. The Buffaloes finished at 5-7, missing a bowl trip for the second time in three seasons under coach Dan Hawkins.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.