“Everybody is expecting our secondary to basically downgrade but I feel like we're all coming together and communicating,” said Anthony Julmisse. “My main goal [for 2017] is I want everybody in the country to know we didn't downgrade. We do realize that is what everybody is expecting.”
Julmisse served as Colorado's starting kick returner as a true freshman in 2016, and the fact he only played 53 defensive snaps was a credit to how talented the Buffaloes' defensive backfield was last fall. Because Julmisse has a lot of talent himself.
“Watching 'Chido' (Chidobe Auwzie) and Ahkello [Witherspoon] will definitely help me out a lot going forward and they gave me a lot of pointers,” said Julmisse, who is battling for the starting cornerback spot opposite Isaiah Oliver. “I learned a lot technique wise last year.”
When Julmisse arrived from Florida last summer, he split time between defensive back and receiver before settling primarily on the defensive side of the ball. He did get an opportunity to carry the football on offense against USC and he picked up 10 yards and a first down.
“I have been focusing on defense this spring but if they ever need me on offense, I'll be there. It is not hard at all to make a few guys miss,” Julmisse said with a smile. “But I have really been focused on playing corner right now. I feel like I have dominating so far.”
When asked about Julmisse, Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre shared his confidence in the sophomore-to-be. But certainly Julmisse is not a finished product.
“He is pushing to be a starting corner, I expect him to be a starting corner, [he just needs to] keep getting better,” MacIntyre said. “I think we have about four guys that right now could start at corner, which is good. They all have to keep pushing.
“What happens in our world is they'll end up having to be starters before the year is over and be in critical roles and play against good players. I think he is very talented. He just has to keep fighting and competing.”
One example that Julmisse is doing exactly that - fighting and competing - is that he tries to match up with wide receiver Shay Fields as much as possible during practice. A former blue-chip recruit, Fields enters his senior year at CU ranked sixth in school history in receptions.
“Shay would be my rival in practice for sure. We get at it a lot,” Julmisse said. “I love matching up with all the receivers, but Shay specifically. I like going against him because I feel like he is one of the best wide receivers in the country. If you can guard him, that is only going to help you get as good. So I take that challenge on every day.”
Additional notes -
*** MacIntyre met with reporters after Monday's practice at the same time junior running back Kyle Evans was undergoing surgery to repair a hip injury he suffered during Saturday's scrimmage. MacIntyre and a number of players met with him in the hospital on Sunday morning.
“Hopefully everything will come out good from that and hopefully we can get him back in the fall. That is what we're hoping” MacIntyre said.
But the hip injury Evans suffered has an unpredictable recovery time.
“They won't know until they get in,” MacIntyre said. “He is fast at recovering. He is really well built and has a good infrastructure so hopefully they'll be able to get in there and take care of business. Hopefully it is in good shape for him to be able to come back.”
Former running back Donovan Lee continued to work at cornerback during Monday's practice, despite Lee's injury.
*** While the Buffs' depth at running back has taken a hit, the improvement of Kabion Ento and Lee Walker this spring - to go along with Fields, Bryce Bobo, Devin Ross, Juwann Winfree, Jay MacIntyre, Johnny Huntley, Derrion Rakestraw, Jaylon Jackson and three talented incoming freshmen – should provide CU with one of the nation's best receiving corps in 2017.
“It pushes them to get better and better,” MacIntyre said of the team's talent and depth at receiver. “You have a good team if you can look over your right shoulder and your left shoulder and you can get beat out. If you look over your left shoulder and your right shoulder and you can't get beat out, I don't care how good you are [individually], you don't have a good team.”
*** MacIntyre continues to talk glowingly about Evan White upon his return from a year-long suspension. White has been working at safety and the "Buff" position, a hybrid outside linebacker/safety role that Ryan Moeller played extensively last season.
“It is like getting a Junior College kid with a ton of your own experience back so we're excited about having Evan back,” MacIntyre said. “I wish we could have redshirted him as a freshman but we redshirted him later (during his suspension). … He would have played a ton for us last year, so he'll play like a starter this year and play on all the special teams.”
*** When asked to review the Buffaloes' first full spring scrimmage, MacIntyre said he was pleased with how the young offensive linemen “handled it well, being in the heat of the battle and handling all of that for the first time.”
Hunter Vaughn redshirted last fall, and Colby Pursell and Chance Lytle joined the Buffs' offensive line this spring after grayshirting. Early enrollee Jake Moretti did not participate in the scrimmage as he continues to recover from a torn ACL, but he is expected to be cleared in the summer.