The Colorado Buffaloes football team are in the midst of spring practices for the most anticipated season in Boulder in a long time. Consequently, the positional battles this year will be highly competitive given the excitement around the program.
The arrival of head coach Deion Sanders has the university buzzing, so much so that the spring game sold out. That is an expected attendance of over 45,000, shattering the record for spring game attendance at Colorado of 17,800 in 2008. The game will also be televised live on ESPN, joining the national champion Georgia Bulldogs as the only teams to have their spring game aired live on the network. It is extremely safe to say the Buffaloes football program might be back.
In order to live up to the hype, Sanders is going to ensure he plays the most deserving competitors on Saturdays. He will have some tough decisions to make, especially since his move to Colorado brought an excess of players through the transfer portal.
A lot will be revealed come the spring game, although battles for playing time are well underway. In terms of importance, there are three positions that will be very interesting to watch as spring ball develops. So, which are they?
Here are three position battles to watch at Colorado during 2023 spring practice.
Rosters via CU Buffs.
Colorado added four players to the offensive line through the transfer portal. These four additions are creating an immediate competition already in spring ball.
Florida transfer Yousef Mugharbil did not play at all for the Gators last season, but comes to Colorado with elite size for an offensive lineman at 6'5, 311 pounds. He will be competing with Missouri State transfer Landon Bebee, someone who comes in with an established pedigree. Bebee is a two-time all-conference player in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Deion Sanders also brought Tyler Brown from Jackson State, one of the top offensive linemen for the Tigers last year. Lastly, Savion Washington comes over from Kent State after making 10 starts in the 2022 season. Brown and Washington join Bebee in making the leap to playing against Power 5 level pass rushers.
These four transfers will be completing with returner Von Wells and a few junior college transfers. It will likely be the most intriguing battle to watch this spring, given they will be protecting Deion Sanders' son, QB Shedeur Sanders.
Another position that received an in flux of talent thanks to the transfer portal, the battle for playing time will be highlighted by a duo from the University of South Florida. Jimmy Horn Jr. and Xavier Weaver combined for 90 catches, 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns for USF last season, and many around the Colorado program believe they will earn the top two wide receiver spots.
Returning from last year is sophomore Jordyn Tyson, junior Montana Lemonious-Craig and early-enrollee guys. With Horn Jr. and Weaver all but guaranteed the top two spots, it will leave the rest of the receivers to battle it out for the all-important third spot.
In Colorado's offense, the third wide receiver is usually the last to be relied upon in terms of pass-catchers. Colorado also has tight end Seydou Traore, running back Dylan Edwards, and 2022 number one overall recruit Travis Hunter. It is easy to believe touches will be spread around in this offense.
This makes the position battle all the more interesting, as some talented players are undoubtedly going to be left without many totes of the ball. The early favorites to headline the Colorado offense will come to light this spring.
Lastly, running back is yet another position that upgraded through the transfer portal. As of right now, the favorite to win the starting job is Kentucky Wildcats transfer Kavosiey Smoke. However, this offense will most likely rely on more than one running back, so there are plenty of names to consider.
Dylan Edwards is coming in as a freshman with highly touted speed, and could be the fastest player on the Colorado roster. However, the Buffaloes are returning two running backs from last season who deserve a fair chance as well.
Senior running back Deion Smith led Colorado in carries and yards last season, and sophomore Anthony Hankerson is looking to expand his role after a limited freshman season.
How the running back position shapes up could be the most important battle this spring because of the rushing prowess in the Pac-12. Teams like UCLA, USC, Utah and Oregon all have historically strong rushing offenses, and Colorado would like to be included in that conversation.
All three of these positions will be highly fought after in terms of playing time. With Deion Sanders at the helm and the excitement around the team, there is little doubt all three of these positions will see better play next season. Colorado's spring game April 22 on ESPN will be the first chance to see who has the upper hand for playing time in a Buffaloes uniform.