Being able to focus in on just one offensive role, though, should benefit him during his junior campaign. Lee began practicing strictly with the running backs during spring ball, and that has continued in camp.
“He is going to play a lot for us at tailback this year,” Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre confirmed. “He has put on some more muscle. He was a powerful runner anyway, and he is more powerful [now].”
Not a lot of 175-pound ball carriers are known as great short yardage backs, but Lee has proven early on in camp that he can pick up the tough yards. At 5-foot-9, he plays with good leverage, and he has the leg strength to power through defenders after first contact.
“He bounces off those tackles,” MacIntyre said. “He made a great run the other day in our goal-line scrimmage. [He] got hit on about the two yard line and found a way to weasel in, which was good to see.”
When Colorado offered Lee a scholarship during his junior season at Chaminade Prep, they viewed him as a cornerback prospect. The Buffs' plans for him changed after he scored 41 offensive touchdowns as a prep senior.
Lee was used primarily as a slot receiver when he was a true freshman in 2014 and during the first half of his sophomore campaign. Injuries at running back began to mount last season, and Lee moved into a heavier role in the backfield as a result. He flourished, averaging a team-best 5.83 yards on 49 rushing attempts.
“Whenever your number is called, you have to be ready to step up and make plays,” Lee said.
Additional Thursday notes:
*** Lee's dependability at tailback has softened the blow of Patrick Carr's decision to transfer out of the program. And while prized 2016 signee Beau Bisharat is still learning the playbook, he has shown flashes this summer.
“I think he'll have a great future here,” Lee said of Bisharat. “We have a lot of talent in that running back room. It is fun to challenge each other and push each other, and get us all to be better.”
*** MacIntyre said the team responded with a “really spirited” practice on Thursday morning, following their first two-a-day of camp on Wednesday.
“I think that shows not only their physical conditioning, but also their mental conditioning, and being an older team. So I was pleased with that,” MacIntyre added.
The Buffs did more 11-on-11 and special teams work, which requires more running, so MacIntyre decided to end Thursday's practice about an hour early.
*** Junior Bryce Bobo has settled back in as a full-time receiver after going back and forth between receiver and safety early on during camp. True freshman Tony Julmisse continues to practice at both receiver and safety.