Students at CU took their last final of the semester Thursday. Like every bowl game that happens late in December or early January, there is a possibility that a player will become ineligible after final grades are in from the semester. Barnett said he hasn't had any prior warning about someone on the edge of losing eligibility for the Dec. 29 Houston Bowl vs. UTEP. But he said they likely won't know for sure until Tuesday or Wednesday.
The coaches thrust many of the younger players into the spotlight in three bowl practices prior to finals, and they turned out to be fruitful efforts. The youngsters will get another chance to show what they can do at Friday's practice. "This game is important for everybody that's coming back," Barnett said. "It places them in the depth chart for the spring. They're either going to defend their spot, or they're going to have to crawl up the ladder."
That goes along with the team's perspective that the bowl game is the first game of the 2005 season. "We'll take the seniors along for a bowl trip, but I want the juniors to lead like seniors," Barnett said. "I want everybody playing right now like this is the first game of the year, and I want to see what they're gong to do."
How well the younger players do in bowl practices won't necessarily impact playing time in the bowl game. Don't expect Hugh Charles to start over Bobby Purify. But youngsters like Charles, and fellow running back Byron Ellis, have been given the opportunity to impress coaches in December so that when they fill out the roster spots in March, they'll keep the players in mind.
Colorado had hoped to receive signed letters of intent from three junior college players Wednesday, the first day Juco players could sign early in order to enroll in the spring semester and participate in spring ball.
Wide receiver Alvin Barnett and offensive lineman Bryce MacMartin have signed the LOI's, but defensive lineman Chris Todd is still unsigned. Coaches cannot comment on unsigned players, per NCAA rules, and didn't think they could comment on a signed Juco player until he is enrolled in school, and so could not talk about the three players. It's unclear if Todd, who was had been at NE Oklahoma A&M this fall after committing to Colorado out of Tulsa's East Central High School in February, will sign later or not.
Barnett is a 6-0, 185, receiver with good speed. Like Todd, Barnett prepped at Tulsa's East Central, where he scored 15 touchdowns and had over 1,100 yards receiving as a senior. He lit up Oklahoma's all-state game with nine receptions for 22 yards. Barnett didn't have a qualifying test score coming out of high school last spring and enrolled at NE Oklahoma A&M for the fall. Barnett said he was recruited by several Big 12 schools out of high school, but chose the Buffs. With a reported 4.47 40 time, he could come in and compete for a spot in the receiver rotation, beginning this spring. He will have four years to play three.
Likewise, MacMartin should compete for a spot in the two-deep at center and/or guard, beginning with spring ball. The 6-2 1/2, 290, offensive lineman comes from CC of San Francisco. MacMartin was lineman of the year as a senior at San Francisco's Lowell High, and earned all-conference honors this season at CC of S.F. MacMartin has three years to play two. Both MacMartin and Barnett will enroll in classes in January.