"It was fun," junior OT Clint O'Neal said. "As you could tell, everybody had a great time. We were flying around to the ball – it was tremendous."
Friday drew the biggest crowd of the week, as well, as close to 100 supporters watched some portion of practice. The team conducted a goal line full-contact situation at the end of the afternoon, as is customary, and the crowd showed their appreciation when the final whistle blew, by giving the team a round of applause.
Things even turned chippy between players on a few occasions, but it was all in the name of a productive football practice.
Head coach Gary Barnett expected the enthusiasm his players were displaying Friday.
"This is a spirited team," Barnett said. "They've had that kind of spirit all the way through."
Another thing the team has had since practices started Monday is some pretty decent competition at some key spots. Asked to rate the level of competition he's seen this past week with other preseason camps he's been involved with, Barnett joked that he's getting old enough to where he doesn't remember camps past.
Then the 58-year-old added, "(The competition) has been pretty good, especially in the receiving corps. Evan Judge has really caught everybodies eye. He has made plays every day."
Judge walked on to the team in 2001, played special teams in 2002 and 2003. The junior earned a scholarship in Aug. 2003, and is pushing to earn playing time at wide receiver in 2004. Judge stands 6-2, and is a solid 210 pounds. In practice Friday, he found a seam in the defense during an 11-on-11 situation and caught what would have been a touchdown.
Judge was listed No. 1 at X receiver going into fall camp, but some believed that was meant to light a fire under some of the younger receivers. Now it's looking like Judge has the opportunity to turn into a player the Buffs will look to, especially considering that Jeremy Bloom's status is still uncertain, and redshirt-freshman Stephone Robinson sat out Friday's practice with a quad contusion.
"In the receiver area, if you take a day off you're going to find yourself behind," Barnett said.
Hunt To Join New Teammates
The Buffs received good news Friday when they learned that freshman Josh Hunt had been declared academically eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
Hunt, the 6-4, 260-pound defensive lineman from Jackson, Mich., who chose CU over a scholarship offer from the Michigan Wolverines, is supposed to join his new teammates sometime Saturday.
Bloom may go to Chile Sunday
Junior receiver Jeremy Bloom had to send the NCAA another document Friday in his appeal to gain eligibility. The NCAA plans to meet again Monday to discuss Bloom's case.
The two-sport star had hoped the NCAA would have come to a decision today, because the U.S. Ski Team is scheduled to fly to Chile for three weeks of training on Sunday. Bloom said Friday after practice that he will decide on Saturday whether or not to fly with them at that time.
If he were to fly to Chile on Sunday, and then learn later that the NCAA had ruled in his favor, he said he would fly back to Boulder as soon as possible and rejoin his football teammates in preparation for the season. If he didn't fly to Chile, and learned next week that the NCAA denied his appeal to play football, it would be more difficult to then fly to the South American country.
Though he did not say, Bloom seemed to be leaning toward going with his U.S. Ski teammates, as it would make the most sense logistically.
"It'll be a lot easier to come back than to get a new (outbound) ticket," Bloom said.
Either way, Bloom felt confident that any lost practice time wouldn't hinder him if he were allowed to play football.
"If we were playing Colorado State tomorrow I'd feel ready, mentally," he said. "Physically, my body might be mad at me. But I feel like I'm running fast, and catching the ball well."
Barnett said he thought the situation was weighing on Bloom.
"This is tough on him," Barnett said. "He's got to really fight to stay focused."
Warriors in the House
Oliver Lucas, head football coach at Denver's Montbello High, attended CU's football practice Friday, and brought 15 or so of his Montbello players with him. Lucas and the Warriors were guests of the CU program, and watched practice on the field, inside the ropes that separate the public from the players and coaches.
Lucas has said publicly that he thinks he has a number of legit Division I prospects on his team this fall. Among them is Jarell Yates, a wide receiver who is reportedly earning some college interest. It didn't appear that Yates was among the Montbello players at the CU practice. BSN is trying to catch up with Lucas to see how the invitation to practice came about, and what he and his team members thought of the experience.
As they have all week, the team spent a considerable amount of time in position drills before moving into more competitive work against each other. One that caught my eye was a drill that had the running backs running under a metal frame in the shape of a high hurdle. The drill was designed to keep the backs used to staying low through the hole at the line of scrimmage.
Bobby Purify continues to look impressive. And he's using his bigger, stronger body to his advantage. The team worked on some short-yardage situations, 1's vs. 2's, and Purify broke through for a score the first time he touched the ball. He found the end zone twice in that live, full-tackle setting, and Daniel Jolly got there once. Overall, it was a pretty even scrum.
Pound for pound, I think it would be hard to find a tougher hitter than J.J. Billingsley on the team. The guy keeps showing the knack for getting up on opponents and using his body effectively.
Later, in some 11-on-11 work, Evan Judge got open for a scoring pass from someone (think it was either Klatt or Cox). Vaka Manupuna broke through for a TFL on another play.
Tomorrow's practices are scheduled for 8-10:45 a.m. and 4-6:30 p.m. and are open to the public.