After second-string tailback Kyle Evans left a spring scrimmage in an ambulance due to a severe hip injury, some Colorado fans took a pessimistic view on his recovery timetable. After all, Bo Jackson had his budding NFL career abruptly ended after four years due to a hip injury.
But as Evans explained it following surgery, his injury did not include damaged blood vessels like Jackson's did. Evans vowed to the media in March that he would be back to play his redshirt junior season this fall.
“Kyle Evans is way ahead of schedule and doing more than they expected at this time,” MacIntyre said when asked about his recovery on Monday. “Hopefully he'll be able to go when the season starts, but we're not positive yet. He is doing really, really well, though. Everything is extremely positive with his hip right now.”
MacIntyre confirmed tailback Donovan Lee (fractured fibula), wide receiver Juwann Winfree (knee) and Derek McCartney (knee) are all expected to be full-go when summer strength and conditioning work begins in June.
Montez Takes Ownership of Buffs' Offense
No longer Sefo Liufau's understudy, Steven Montez entered spring ball with a sizable advantage in his quest to be the Buffaloes' starting quarterback in 2017. And his production during the 15 spring practices did nothing but confirm his standing as QB1.
MacIntyre said Montez has taken the track he wishes every quarterback could take coming in to a power conference program.
“You want a guy to redshirt a year. You want him to have to play a little bit and have some success and have some tough times and understand it and then be ready to step out there as a redshirt sophomore,” MacIntyre said. “Steven has now gone through two spring [balls], three fall [camps] and he has some game time. And now you have a guy that has a chance to be good.”
In 10 games, including three starts, Montez had a total QBR of 72.8 in 2016, which ranked him 30th nationally among quarterbacks that played at least 200 snaps. Following that limited experience, what specifically did Montez improve on this spring?
“He had a better grasp of the offense,” MacIntyre explained. “He knew where to go with it. He was cleaner with his alignment, he was cleaner with getting guys lined up. He understood exactly what we're looking for and he understood when he made a mistake. He could correct himself. As we were trying to correct it, he already knew it. So all those type of things.
“And then he is in much better shape than he has ever been. He is moving well, his arm is extremely strong and even more accurate than it was last year. He has kind of elevated everything a little bit., which is what you want to see. He is also taking it extremely seriously. He understands what he has to do, how he has to do it. And his leadership role is good, how he handled himself, how he would push guys on the team. I thought they really respected him.”
Additional Notes -
*** MacIntyre was in Philadelphia last week to support cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, who was invited to attend the NFL Draft.
“His family went on the red carpet and being there in the green room was a great experience for 'Chido,'” MacIntyre recapped. “We were hoping he was going to go in the first round and there were some texts back and forth with his agent where he thought that was going to happen. But then they picked another guy.
“But he handled it so well. He is so mentally tough, which is so cool to see. He is excited he went to the Dallas Cowboys. They wanted him, they have been talking to him for a while.”
Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, safety Tedric Thompson and defensive lineman Jordan Carrell were also drafted over the weekend.
“I think it shows you that we evaluate pretty well,” MacIntyre said. “None of those guys were big time stars [coming out of high school] and they all ended up getting drafted and they'll play [in the NFL] for a while. I'm exited about where we're headed and we'll have more guys getting drafted every year.”
Four other former Buffs – Sefo Liufau, Kenneth Olugbode, Jimmie Gilbert and Josh Tupou - signed with an NFL team as an undrafted free agent. Samson Kafovalu also received a mini-camp invite with the San Francisco 49ers.
*** After sending three defensive backs to the NFL, MacIntyre admits their younger secondary players will suffer through some “growing pains” this fall.
“But I know they are very talented,” MacIntyre said. “I think we do a good job of recruiting in the secondary and I think those guys will be able to play well as they get their feet wet.”
*** Senior Jonathan Huckins emerged as the front-runner to start at center for the Buffaloes this spring. Huckins has seen action in 25 games during his college career, including 13 starts. His role was limited in 2016, though.
“Last year in fall camp, he had a weird deal where he had a problem with his stomach and he couldn't hold down anything so he missed quite a few parts of practices and just wasn't himself,” MacIntyre said. “He regained his strength and he had a great spring. He is in great shape, his weight is really good.
“I saw him this morning and Jon is really excited about everything he is doing. I think he'll be an excellent center for us. He is athletic, understands the game, has played a lot of snaps. Hopefully he has a great senior year.”