August Camp Preview: Defensive Line

Inside, a look at the Colorado defensive line as the Buffs prepare for August camp.

The Buffaloes were a little bit better than expected along the defensive front in 2006. But replacing graduated defensive end Abraham Wright's 11.5 sacks from a year ago will be a tall order. Still, CU is not lacking for experience in its front line of defense. Four players with starts under their belts return, including last year's surprises, defensive tackles George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas.

At one defensive end, Alonzo Barrett has the inside track on replacing Wright. Barrett, a senior, showed promise as a pass rusher in 2004 during his redshirt-freshman season when he had two sacks and four tackles for loss in just 99 plays from scrimmage. He suffered a knee injury as a sophomore, missing five games, then returned to play behind Wright last season. Wright was so productive, Barrett only got on the field for 144 plays, registering 12 tackles. The good news is Barrett was given the Dan Stavely Award by the coaching staff in the spring for being the most improved defensive lineman.

Opposite Barrett this spring, junior Maurice Lucas began to live up to the hype surrounding him when he came to Colorado a few years back. An imposing physical presence, if he stays focused Lucas is poised for a breakout season. Also competing at end are junior Drew Hudgins and redshirt-freshman Marquez Herrod. Hudgins, who transferred from Highland Community College in Kansas in January, has a reputation as a player with pass-rush talent. He was slowed in spring drills, however, with an ankle injury. Hudgins recovered by summer. His talent is raw, and coaches hope they can develop into skills and help the Buffs this fall.

Herrod has put on 20 pounds since coming to CU a year ago. A hard worker, Herrod will see his first college action this season. True freshman Conrad Obi, from Grayson, Ga., will also get a look in August.

Last August, defensive tackle was the biggest question mark on the CU defense. George Hypolite and Brandon Nicolas — who entered last season with precious little experience — provided solid answers, playing above most anyone's expectations. Both return for their junior seasons. Though still a bit undersized (both tip the scales right around 285 pounds) for Big 12 ball, remarkably, their presence means defensive tackle should be a strength of the defense.

The Buffs are starting to develop some depth on the interior defensive line, too. Sophomore Jason Brace saw action in 10 games as a true freshman last season. He and redshirt-freshman Eric Lawson, as well as sophomore Taj Kaynor will battle for playing time behind the starters on the inside. Juco transfer Chris Perri could play inside or at end, as could true freshman Lagrone Shields. Fellow freshman Eugene Goree rounds out the defensive linemen.

Leading returners: Alonzo Barrett (27 games played), George Hypolite (14 career tackles for loss), Maurice Lucas (7 career starts), Brandon Nicolas (57 tackles).

The Roster
Alonzo Barrett, Sr., DE, 6-3, 235
Jason Brace, So., DT, 6-4, 265
Eugene Goree, Fr., DT, 6-2, 285
Marquez Herrod, R-Fr., DE, 6-2, 255
Drew Hudgins, Jr., DE, 6-4, 235
George Hypolite, Jr., DT, 6-1, 285
Taj Kaynor, So., DT, 6-4, 265
Eric Lawson, R-Fr., DT, 6-3, 260
Maurice Lucas, Jr., DE, 6-4, 255
Brandon Nicolas, Jr., DT, 6-3, 280
Conrad Obi, Fr., DE, 6-4, 245
Chris Perri, Jr., DL, 6-4, 275
Lagrone Shields, Fr., DL, 6-4, 265

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