Charles Poised For Big Senior Year?

The Colorado tailbacks had a decent season in 2006. While the passing game stalled, the Buffs rushed for 2,075 yards, the most since 2002. Still, there's room to get better.

Though he won't be an every-down back, senior Hugh Charles, who is poised to become the first Buffalo to lead Colorado in rushing for three seasons since Herchell Troutman did it from 1995 to 1997, will be featured. Charles spent part of his summer working on his agility in hopes of developing breakaway balance to go along with his breakaway speed. Will Charles be the first Buff back to break 1,000 yards since Bobby Purify in 2004? We'll see.

"Hugh did good things during the spring," said CU offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich. "He's just got to keep thinking downhill and attacking and using his speed."

As in recent years, Charles will likely rotate with a stable of backs. Among the others vying for carries with Charles will be Byron Ellis, Bernard Jackson, Kevin Moyd and Demetrius Sumler.

"We don't have a guy that's an every-down horse," Helfrich said. "That's fine. But between all those guys, we'll exploit their strengths and go."

Jackson could very will be CU's most dangerous player with the ball in his hands. So good are Jackson's open-field running skills that coaches used videotape of Jackson's runs as a teaching tool for the tailbacks in the spring.

"He's a pretty physical runner," Helfrich said. "He can get on the edge of guys and he's tough to tackle. We showed several of his runs to the tailbacks this spring (to demonstrate) how you get on the edge of someone and run through an arm tackle. He's not Darian Hagan-quick, but he has a good feel for running. We're certainly going to exploit that."

Charles' classmate Byron Ellis is reliable as a pass catcher out of the backfield, and understands what's required as a blocker and should be used in a similar way as he was last fall.

Demetrius Sumler, the redshirt freshman out of San Diego, didn't have as good a spring as expected. Coaches are hoping Sumler shows up in August and proves it was just a youthful mistake. Sumler, who boasts and NFL-type body, has tons of potential — he runs between the tackles with the forward lean you like. He was set to play as a true freshman in 2006, but a case of turf-toe kept the redshirt on. There will be enough carries to go around this fall for Sumler to see the field, but he'll have to earn them.

Kevin Moyd showed signs of life in spring ball. If he continues to develop the mental toughness and willingness to block — two things Hagan, the running backs coach, requires — he could be a factor. True freshman Brian Lockridge has turned teammates' heads in the summer during voluntary workouts. His combination of speed and quickness will give him a chance to contribute this fall.

Maurice "Mo" Cantrell was a pleasant surprise last year when he moved from linebacker to fullback and excelled as a blocker in the backfield. Cantrell showed some decent hands, too. Though he only caught two passes, both plays caught CU's opponent off-balance, and Cantrell averaged 19 yards per. He's the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 fullback again, but senior Samson Jagoras and sophomore Jake Behrens will figure in the competition there, too.

Leading Returners: Hugh Charles (332 career carries/1,670 yards); Byron Ellis (11 career receptions).

The Roster
Jake Behrens, So., FB, 6-0, 230
Maurice Cantrell, Jr., FB, 6-0, 240
Hugh Charles, Sr., TB, 5-8, 190
Byron Ellis, Sr., TB, 6-0, 215
Bernard Jackson, Sr., QB/WR/TB, 6-0, 200
Samson Jagoras, Sr., FB, 5-10, 225
Brian Lockridge, Fr., TB, 5-8, 175
Kevin Moyd, So, TB, 5-7, 195
Cory Nabors, R-Fr., TB, 5-9, 185
Demetrius Sumler, R-Fr., TB, 5-10, 210

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