“[Running backs] coach [Darian] Hagan will tell a story about playing here back in the '90s and he will look at me and say, 'Yeah, Alex, you remember that. You were a sophomore then, right?' And I'm like, 'Yeah, I remember!' We all joke around about it,” Kelley said with a smile. “I don't mind being the old man. I like it.”
Kelley has seen action in each of the Buffaloes' previous 37 games, and has started the last 25. While a number of Colorado's offensive linemen are cross-training early on during camp, Kelley has been able to focus strictly on center.
“It does feel like musical chairs around me right now,” he said.
Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre said earlier this week they will settle on a starting offensive line when classes begin on Monday, August 22, 11 days before the opener.
“Now we might not announce that, but we will settle on it. Because you'll ask me about it that Monday for sure,” MacIntyre said in a lighthearted tone.
Kelley admits having the experienced Jeromy Irwin back and fully recovered from his knee injury has had a calming influence on the offensive line this preseason. He likes what he has seen out of some other linemen.
“Gerrad Kough learned a lot last year and is looking really good,” Kelley said. “And Timmy [Lynott Jr.], he is a heck of a football player. For a redshirt freshman, some of the stuff he can do, it kind of blows my mind a little bit. It definitely raises the level of our play.”
Colorado's struggles up front last year have been well-documented. After giving up the fewest amount of sacks in the Pac-12 in 2014, the Buffs gave up more sacks than every other team in the conference in 2015.
“I believe we learned from last year,” Kelley said. “Our goal is obviously to get back to giving up the least amount of sacks and to have a 1,000 yard rusher.”
The players did not max out under former strength and conditioning coach Dave Forman, but they did this summer for first-year coach Drew Wilson. Kelley had a three rep squat max of 515 pounds, a three rep bench max of 415, and he had a one rep power clean max of 365.
“Coach Forman and Coach Wilson have different philosophies. Not to say one is good and one is bad but for our personality of liking to lift heavy weights, that is exactly what Coach Wilson likes to do, too,” Kelley said.
“And then with our new up-tempo offense there was a big emphasis on conditioning,” he continued. “It was probably the hardest summer we've had. Honestly, the stuff we did over the summer seems harder than these first few days of camp. It has really helped us.”
Kelley graduated with a degree in Evolutionary Biology earlier this summer and he is now pursuing a double major in English.
Additional Wednesday notes:
*** The Buffaloes had their first of four two-a-days on Wednesday. MacIntyre said their morning practice on two-a-days resembles a typical practice, while their second practice has a heavier emphasis on special teams and situational work.
*** On regular days during camp, the Buffs still conduct a walkthrough in the evening, so the time spent between practices on two-a-days remains the same.
“They'll eat [lunch], relax, get in the recovery pools and we'll have meetings before dinner, then we'll have meetings right after dinner,” MacIntyre said.
Most days during camp begin with meetings at 8:30 am and don't end until 9:10 pm.
*** MacIntyre said the players that have been fielding kicks and punts early on during camp have been doing a nice job of catching the ball, but he didn't want to give any hints as to which potential returners have been standing out early on during camp. Phillip Lindsay and Donovan Lee have experience returning kicks for the Buffs, while Jay MacIntyre and Shay Fields have experience returning punts. Newcomers Juwann Winfree, Ronnie Blackmon and Anthony Julmisse are other candidates for the return jobs.
*** The Pac-12 Network's Football Training Camp tour is set for its annual trip to Boulder this coming Monday. It will first air at 10 pm (MDT) that evening. They had a preliminary visit on July 26 to do an extended interview with quarterback Sefo Liufau that will be incorporated into the show.