Sean Irwin's contributions often got unnoticed by the casual CU fan throughout his career as he developed into one of the top blocking tight ends in the country. His departure opens the door, and Chris Bounds looks to take advantage of the opportunity.
“Sean taught me a lot and I think I can fill in his shoes pretty well,” Bounds told BuffStampede.com after a recent spring practice. “I would say we are pretty similar. He taught me how to block like he does. So the way we both use our feet, use our hands, strike, is pretty similar. I think we are both pretty balanced tight ends.”
Currently 6-foot-4, 235-pounds, Bounds knows he needs to add another 10 pounds of good weight before the season begins in order for him to hold his own when asked to play in the trenches.
The experience of seeing action in 11 games, and catching a pass for eight yards, gave Bounds a feel for the game speed. It also gave him a better idea of what he needs to improve on.
“Last season really got the jitters out and this year I am going to be able to go in with a lot more confidence,” he said. “I played fullback, too, learned how to kick-out block really well.
“Now I am working on making sure I keep my feet wide, making sure when I strike on contact that I have a good base and that I am not crossing over otherwise you'll get thrown off on your block.”
Although Bounds has taken a majority of the first-string tight ends reps this spring, there is competition. Junior Dylan Keeney has gained roughly 10 pounds to get up near 6-foot-6, 235-pounds, which has allowed him to play some more as an in-line tight end.
“Dylan and Chris are both doing super,” Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “Dylan is catching the ball well, running, blocking well so he is doing good.”
And while senior George Frazier has spent quality time working on the defensive line this spring, he is also still spending time in meetings and during practice at tight end.
Additional notes -
*** There were 113 coaches in attendance at the Buffaloes' sixth spring practice, which was conducted outside on Friday morning.
“We're doing our coaches clinic, which is a lot of fun,” MacIntyre said. “They came in this morning, sat in all our meetings and then we'll have chalk talk and some of the different high school coaches are speaking today so it is good.”
*** MacIntyre said they have “worked hard” on their field-goal and field-goal protection early on during spring ball. The Buffs' place kickers missed a total of nine field-goals, on 26 attempts, during the 2017 campaign. Senior Chris Graham, true sophomore Davis Price and two other walk-ons are competing at place kicker this spring.
“We are charting it every day. And scrimmages will be big because I'll just throw them out there at different times, trying to put pressure on them,” MacIntyre said of the kicker battle. “Kickers, it is a lonely world. You miss it and no one wants to get near you. I feel bad for the moms of the kickers, I really do.”
*** Steven Montez has justifiably been the center of the quarterback discussion this spring, but according to reports from those welcomed inside the practice gates, redshirt freshman Sam Noyer has also been performing at a high level.
“Sam has a great, very accurate arm,” MacIntyre said. “He is getting a lot of reps. These scrimmages will be big for Sam, Tyler [Lytle] and Casey [Marksberry]. It'll be good to see them kind of in live situations. We won't tackle the quarterback but it'll be live [for the other players], so it'll be a little faster, a little bit quicker.”
*** The Buffs will conduct a closed scrimmage on Saturday morning with an emphasis on getting the younger players and Junior College additions a lot of live reps.
“We will get to see where they are, what level they are at right now,” MacIntyre said.