In 2002, Creighton's classmate Joe Klopfenstein played as a true freshman, and became the starter in 2003. Jesse Wallace has proven a solid backup the past two seasons, and was sure to become even more involved in the offense in 2004, his senior campaign. Then, when Quinn Sypniewski earned a medical redshirt and was due to return this fall after a nagging injury kept him out most of 2003, it became clear that Creighton wasn't going to see the field anytime soon.
"We have some good tight ends," the redshirt sophomore said. "I thought I was doing all right, but with those guys ahead of me, even if I was doing good it was going to be another year before I got to play."
And so discussions with coaches began after last season. He discovered he had some options.
"They were talking to me about D-end, and they were even talking to me about gaining a lot of weight and trying to play offensive line," Creighton said. "But the fullback came into question."
Simply, the Buffs have been in need of a fullback who can block since Brandon Drumm graduated after the 2002 season. Creighton got his shot in the spring and was impressive. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said this summer that the move is no longer an experiment, but that Creighton proved "he can matter" in the offense this fall.
Running backs coach Shawn Simms agreed, and said Creighton "gives us another hammer" in the backfield. If Creighton has a good season, he may earn the nickname The Hammer. Right now, he's just glad to have the opportunity to play on Saturday's staring him in the face.
"That's why I came here," he said. "I want to be in the mix, I want to be a part of it. Fullback, kicker, defense, whatever – I'll play any of it."
But for Creighton to be in the position to matter in the CU backfield, he had to put on weight.
After coming in at 6-foot-5 and a slim 215 pounds, Creighton is now listed at 245, but he says he's closer to 250. He credits former strength coach Doc Kreis and, especially, Greg Finnegan, who took over that position in the summer of 2003.
"When Finnegan came, I put on probably 20 pounds," Creighton said. "He had me on a certain diet. Just a lot of protein shakes and chicken, stuff like that. He had me doing the right lifting. He cut down on the conditioning so I was able to gain some weight. He focused more on my agility."
On the field, Creighton has made the adjustment from the blocking techniques used by a tight end to those used by a fullback. He's already gotten a taste of what he likes about the position.
"It's a lot of fun," he said. "Especially when a (ball carrier is) behind you and you see him, as soon as you make contact, run by you and break a big run. That's a good feeling."
Certainly, with Creighton in the backfield, it gives the CU running game even more flexibility than it already had. While Bobby Purify, Lawrence Vickers, Daniel Jolly, Isaiah Crawford and Brandon Caesar will be vying for carries, Creighton will be trying to help spring the backs for big gains. With his tight end experience, Creighton can also motion out to a slot or give the Buffs a double tight end look if needed.
"We've got everything, we've got little quick backs, big strong backs, blocking fullbacks, receiving backs," he said. "We're going to be fun to watch this year."