March 12 Practice Report

Call it global warming or just some good luck, but unlike a year ago when chilly temperatures and snow greeted the Buffs more often than not in spring ball, warm weather and clear skies greeted the Colorado football team Monday as the Buffs put in a two-and-a-half-hour practice, their first of the spring. Inside, notes from the practice.

• LB Justin Nonu was at practice and participating in most of the drills. It sounds like, though, he won't be able to do full contact because of his back. Meanwhile, as reported earlier, RB Thomas Perez was not present and will not participate this spring because of grades. The surprise, S Reggie Foster is also out for the spring with academic issues.

• Several players were sporting new numbers on Monday. The most confusing was at quarterback, where Cody Hawkins is wearing No. 7 (the number Bernard Jackson wore last season) and Jackson is wearing 10. Nick Nelson is wearing No. 3 and Michael Sipili, No. 10. Not sure if those are permanent changes or not.

• Team captains were chosen in January. Jackson, and fellow seniors, R.J. Brown and Jordon Dizon, both linebackers, will be team captains the entire year. It's quite an honor for all three, but Brown especially as he is a former walk on.

• Some new names on the team. S Kyle Black (transfer from Air Force), CB Calvin Bini, S Bret Smith and LS Austin Bisnow.

• There was a high-profile and unlikely visitor at practice Monday. USC QB Mark Sanchez (the 2004 Parade All-American Player of the Year) was at the practice. Dan Hawkins said he's friends with someone on the CU team and that USC is on spring break. But go ahead and crank up the rumor mill if you must.

• New offensive line coach Jeff Grimes is working with just six fully healthy linemen in his first spring in Boulder. Help is on the way in August, but it's in the form of true freshmen. Grimes said he's had both positive and negative experiences playing true frosh. The first time he did it, things didn't go well and he swore he'd never do it again. Two years later, though, he started a true freshman at BYU, and the player excelled. He's told all the true freshmen to come in ready, and may the best man/men win.

• Hawkins said one of the few things they'll do differently this spring than last is be more judicious about how much hitting they'll go through because of the low number of offensive linemen. But he's staying a positive about it because he doesn't like to do a lot of full contact hitting in spring anyway.

• The move to put Chapelle Brown at wide receiver from cornerback was in large part because of his size. They think he'll be more effective making players chase and tackle him than the other way around. The decision to move Joe Sanders from linebacker to tight end was mostly Sanders' idea. He thinks he'll get a chance to play more in his final year at CU on offense. He came in as a tight end/linebacker, and played some at TE his first year before moving.

• Some observations: Nick Nelson looks comfortable already. He's got a little swagger. He was pretty accurate much of Monday and has a quick release and medium strength in his arm. Punter Matt DiLallo looked like a different player than last fall. His movement is quick and efficient and the ball was booming off his foot Monday.

• Plays: TE Patrick Devenny made four catches in light scrimmage work, including a nice one in traffic. OLB B.J. Beatty picked off a Nelson pass in the flat.

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