Inge was familiar with CU head coach Gary Barnett from his days as a high school player in Kirkwood, Mo. Barnett used to recruit his home state of Missouri for the Buffs back when he was an assistant on Bill McCartney's staff in the 1980s and early 1990s. Barnett first recruited Inge while he was still at Boulder, then continued recruiting him at Northwestern when he was hired ash the Wildcats' head coach prior to the 1992 season.
Inge ended up at another Big Ten school, Iowa, and eventually played one year in the NFL with Tennessee before getting into college coaching.
Inge made a splash the first week of spring ball in Boulder. Those who watched practice couldn't help but hear him barking encouragement and admonishment to his players from Day 1. As well as helping to develop the players' physical tools, Inge is working on their minds.
"The one thing I want them to do is enhance their expectations — take their thought process to a new level, take their thinking to a new level, and take their application and football effort to a new level," he said. "That's my main expectation, to get the players to do more than they think they can do.
"That's something I started to implement in the springtime — making sure the players understood that they're good and are prepared to be great. Anything less than that won't be tolerated."
Inge will be working with four players with starting experience in tackles Vaka Manupuna and James Garee (who moved inside from end this spring), and ends Alex Ligon and Abraham Wright. He wants to continue to develop the unit's lunch-bucket mentality.
"If I'm looking for a prototype (defensive lineman), the No. 1 thing I want to be able to work with is a kid who loves to be in the trenches," Inge said. "You have to love it. You know how to come to work in your work hat. If you're coming to work in a suit, then probably the defensive line wouldn't be for you. You're going to get dirty; it's going to get ugly."
One area of emphasis for the line continues to be getting into the opponents' backfield. Last season, the Buffs' sack total (31) was up significantly over 2003, when the Buffs managed just 19 quarterback sacks. Ligon and Wright each had 4 1/2 sacks last fall. Alonzo Barrett had two in just 99 plays, and continued to show a knack for getting to the quarterback in the spring.
Below is a list of the returning defensive linemen, and some of Inge's thoughts on some of the players.
Defensive tackles (returning only)
95 Nick Clement, Sr., 6-2, 260
82 James Garee, Sr., 6-6, 275
62 John Guydon, Sr., 6-2, 285
96 Marcus Jones, Jr., 6-4, 300
93 Vaka Manupuna, Sr., 6-1, 290
Defensive ends (returning only)
47 Alonzo Barrett, So., 6-3, 240
33 Walter Boye-Doe, Jr., 6-2, 240
51 Alex Ligon, Jr., 6-3, 250
88 Zach Jones, Fr., 6-3, 250
56 Greg Newman, R-Fr., 6-4, 235
94 David Veikune, R-Fr., 6-2, 230
53 Abraham Wright, Jr., 6-3, 240
I asked Inge to give me a thumbnail sketch on some of his players. I threw a name to him and he told me what came to his mind. Below is what he said. (Note, not all players were talked about, but that just means the conversation turned elsewhere before we got to them):
On Vaka Manupuna. "Just outright leadership and effort. And he is an action leader. He's not a guy who will speak all the time, but he's an action leader; he's experienced and he knows what to expect from the game."
On James Garee. "James is one of the best vocal leaders on the team. And he has a lot of experience as well. James is what you call an effort player. When that ball is snapped, he will give you 150 percent."
On Alex Ligon. "Talented. Alex is ready to come out of his core. That's what he and I have been talking about most over the summer — being able to come out of yourself. Let you be you, but know that you've prepared yourself to make big plays."
On Abraham Wright. "The No. 1 thing we want to do with Abraham is have him keep his focus and keep his relentlessness from huddle to whistle."
On Alonzo Barrett. "Alonzo Barrett is a young man who cannot wait to be able to get in and gain experience." (He also indicated Barrett WILL get in and get that experience this fall).
On Walter Boye-Doe. (Boye-Doe played DE in high school, moved to LB at CU, but will line up at DE this fall. He missed spring with an injury, but is good to go). "A lot of the things that we see from him in film study, and the time he's putting in in the summer in the weightroom, it's going to be very exciting to see how he comes out. We have a lot things that we want to do with him."
On John Guydon. "John is a guy who will give you everything he has. He will never complain, he will do everything as hard as he can. John and James remind me of each other. John, he's ready, he can't wait to go."
On incoming in-state freshmen Maurice Lucas, Sam Zimmerer and Taj Kaynor. "I can't wait to work with those kids. As freshmen, the one thing they're going to have to do is enhance their expectations. They're coming from a place where they were the man, to a place now where they're just a kid trying to fit in.
"Historically, our program has done well with young players in and grooming them to do great things. The beauty of that is Mo, Sam and Taj, they have players like Kanavis McGhee, Alfred Williams, Ron Woolfork, Chad Brown, guys like that to look at. Guys that did a great job in our program."