Barrett The Old Man Now

It seems like only a couple of months ago, Alonzo Barrett was the scrawny, new kid trying to learn the ropes from his teammates as he adjusted to Division I football. But now Barrett is playing the part of the grizzled vet, breaking in young players. Barrett is taking a leadership role as CU replaces two departed defensive ends this season.

Alonzo Barrett will be a senior in the fall, and the elder statesmen on the Colorado defensive line. The 6-3, 240-pound defensive end is still adjusting to the ring of that.

"It sounds weird," he laughed after Tuesday's practice.

That was moments after he was very vocal in a post-practice gathering of the defensive linemen. Barrett grabbed, shoved, hollered and laughed with his teammates during the short session – a debriefing time that's become a habit this spring.

Barrett said he's trying to show some leadership to a group of players that includes three juniors, two sophomores and two redshirt-freshmen.

"I always try to be a player that my teammates can look at and say, ‘He's doing the right thing,'" Barrett said. "Older guys like James Garee, Matt McChesney, Marques Harris – they were real good to me. They showed me what the requirements were to be a Buffalo. I'm just making sure all the young guys understand that and giving them an example of what a Buffalo should be."

Barrett, juniors Maurice Lucas and Drew Hudgins, and redshirt-freshman Marquez Herrod are working to replace last year's starters at defensive end — Walter Boye-Doe and Abraham Wright. The pair started every game at the bookends on the defensive line. Wright was one of the leaders in the country in sacks, tallying 11.5.

Defensive line coach Romeo Bandison admits it's difficult replacing the pair, but he likes the progress the replacements are making. At this point, Barrett and Lucas are drawing the majority of work with the first team defense at the end positions.

"(Boye-Doe and Wright) were experienced and very productive, but I feel good about these guys. They can make plays," Bandison said. "Alonzo, he's a fast guy who runs around. He's always around the ball doing something.

"Maurice is just a gifted player. He has a lot of potential. He's a big, strong guy. He's what you want your defensive ends to be like. We've got to get him thinking faster – that'll help him play faster, which he has done. He's a lot different from last fall, so he's making big strides."

Barrett and Lucas, 6-5, 260-pounds, saw action in 11 games last year, and both have starts in previous seasons under their belts. Bandison said he's looking for more consistency from both Barrett and Lucas, while he's still trying to get Hudgins and Herrod up to speed.

Hudgins, listed at 6-4, 230, came to CU this semester from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. Bandison said Hudgins' role at Hutchinson, where he was a prolific pass rusher, was to simply run around the field after the ball. He's adjusting to a more disciplined style of play at Colorado.

"He's a smart guy; he figures things out pretty quickly and he knows the defense fairly well for the short time he's been here," Bandison said. "In JC he just got to run around. We've got to be disciplined and stay in gaps. That's something we've got to work with. We've got reads, guys to key on – those are things he's got to learn because he's never done it."

The learning curve continues for Herrod as well. The 6-3, 255-pounder has a great motor, something Bandison loves, but is still learning technique.

"He goes 100 miles an hour all the time," Bandison said. "He's the kind of guy you've got to tell to slow down in certain drills, which is the kind of guy you want to have. But technically he has some work to do. Still there are some things he's good at. He's a good pass rusher and he's relentless. He might go the wrong way, but then he'll make a play because he's going so fast."

Redshirt-freshman Eric Lawson has also gotten some reps at defensive end this spring, but that's been due to a numbers crunch. Hudgins missed the week of practices just prior to spring break because of a minor injury, forcing Lawson to the edge. Bandison said he wants to get Lawson settled in at one position eventually, and it's likely to be tackle.

Overall, Barrett likes the progress he's seen along the defensive line this spring.

"We're getting our calls better, communicating a lot better," the senior said. "You can see a huge difference from last year."

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