Tony Jones vaults to top for Colorado

Jones aiming for starting job in inexperienced Buffs' backfield.

With Rodney Stewart gone and reinforcements still taking high school classes, Tony Jones knew this was a big spring for himself.

Colorado's redshirt sophomore tailback made the most of it, too. Jones wrapped up spring practice as the clear starter going into fall camp.

"Tony separated himself from he other guys here (during spring)," head coach Jon Embree said. "The young guys (three true freshmen arrive in fall) will have to come in and try to catch him."

Stewart, a four-year starter, finished his stellar CU career last fall, leaving the position wide open for the first time in a while.

Although just a sophomore, Jones will be the most experienced tailback for the Buffs this season. Yet, he spent the spring seizing an opportunity to get better.

"I'm just pretty much trying to take my game to another level since I'm trying to be a starter," he said.

In a backup role last year, the 5-foot-7, 175-pound Jones rushed for 297 yards on 78 attempts (3.81 yards per carry). He also scored a pair of touchdowns.

CU offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy believes there are a lot of players that can run the ball, though. It's how the tailback performs in the passing game -- catching the ball and pass blocking -- that makes a difference.

Jones caught 27 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns last year. In fact, with wide receiver Paul Richardson out for the year with a torn ACL, Jones is CU's top returning receiver.

Even with that experience, Jones approached spring ball like a man on a mission.

"I have no choice to, especially with coach Bieniemy," Jones said. "He's definitely not going to let me take anything for granted and I'm not going to let myself take anything for granted. One slip up and you can be second string."

For now, Jones has done enough to be the starter.

"I'm feeling happy, but I can still get better," he said. "I can still work on some things."

Here's a quick look at CU's other tailbacks:

D.D. Goodson: The 5-7, 165-pound true sophomore finished the spring second on the depth chart. He's got sprinter's speed and will get a chance to make an impact. He proved his versatility last year by filling in at cornerback.

Josh Ford: He was the star of the spring game, rushing for 141 yards and two touchdowns. He's got a lot of work to do in the passing game, however, if he wants to play regularly.

Justin Gorman: He came to CU as a walk-on quarterback and moved to defensive back last year. With Jones, Goodson and Ford the only healthy backs, Gorman moved there for the spring. He did well and looked good on his two spring game carries.

Malcolm Creer: He's a bigger back (5-11, 205) and showed some promise as a true freshman, but he suffered a knee injury in October and has been rehabbing since. He hopes to be healthy and competing for playing time in the fall.

Donta Abron: The 5-9, 190-pounder will be a true freshman in the fall and brings good speed to the position.

Terrence Crowder: Another true freshman, his size (5-10, 210) could be a nice change of pace for CU.

Davien Payne: At 5-11, 225 pounds, he'll be CU's biggest tailback and he's probably the most ready to play among the three freshmen. Payne could be the most likely to push Jones for the starting job.


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