It's Official: Hawkins Named Starting QB

With the team's season opener less than two weeks away, the Colorado coaches released their first official depth chart of fall camp. At the same time, coaches stressed who plays and how much they play could shift from week to week. Still, some competition seems to be settled, at least for now, including the starting quarterback job.

Dan Hawkins doesn't care for depth charts. "I'm not interested in to what you did yesterday," he said after Sunday morning's practice — meaning yesterday's depth chart can change depending on what players do today and tomorrow. Most of his assistants seem to follow his cue.

Still, only 11 players will be on the field when CU trots out on offense and defense during the Sept. 1 CU-CSU game. And while several players will see action at some positions — including wide receiver, tight end and tailback — some of today's developments are significant.

First off, redshirt freshman Cody Hawkins has been named the starting quarterback. Junior Nick Nelson will be his backup. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich informed them of that decision during a position meeting Saturday, following the morning's scrimmage.

"We feel like he's our best guy right now, so that's who we're putting out there — the guy we think who gives us the best opportunity to move (the ball), score points and win," Helfrich said.

Nelson admitted he was disappointed with the decision, but said he's a team guy and will continue to practice hard and push Hawkins.

Hawkins had mixed emotions.

"I'm really excited that I get a chance to lead the Buffaloes, especially going into Sept. 1 against Colorado State," the quarterback said. "But it's also a bummer to see a friend like Nick be disappointed."

Helfrich pointed to Hawkins' consistency in camp as the deciding factor.

"He makes almost every routine play, and that's a big deal," Helfrich said, adding that Hawkins is working on executing big plays.

Dan Hawkins reiterated his staff's theme regarding starters and playing time by saying "If Cody Hawkins doesn't move the club and score points, ‘Hey (Nelson will play instead)."

• The two other big news to come out Sunday included an injury and an academic suspension.

Freshman receiver Josh Smith bruised his kidney at some point during Saturday's scrimmage. Though Smith isn't sure when the injury occurred — it could have been during a hit he took, or when he ran into a corner wall going after a ball on a fade route — he alerted trainers to some symptoms after the practice and the bruised kidney was later diagnosed.

At this point, the medical staff doesn't know how long he will be out of action, but it's unlikely he will play vs. CSU. Helfrich said Sunday Smith had been among the top two receivers in camp this fall.

Also, junior linebacker Marcus Burton has been declared academically ineligible. He will continue to practice with the team, but can't play. He has a redshirt year available and will take it as he tries to get his grades in order.

That means walk-on Jeff Smart, the 5-11, 210-pound sophomore from Boulder, will back up starter Jordon Dizon at will linebacker. At mike — the other inside linebacker — senior R.J. Brown (who has not played a down of linebacker in a game at CU) will start (because of Michael Sipili's indefinite suspension because of legal issues) and sophomore walk-on Jake Duren will back him up.

• Other notable positioning on the depth chart are: Wes Palazzi and Devin Head are penciled in as the team's starting guards. Head said after practice, though, OL coach Jeff Grimes is emphasizing this "is a starting point," and things could change depending on who shows up to play in practice every day.

The entire second string OL is made up of true freshmen, including OT Matt Bahr, LG Mike Iltis, C Kai Maiava, RT Ryan Miller and RT Sione Tau. Keep in mind, Grimes is cross training several o-linemen and has said if a starter goes down, he may fill in with the next best player — which could mean a player listed No. 2 at another position.

Patrick Williams (x) and Scotty McKnight (z) are atop the depth chart at receiver. Anthony Perkins and Anthony Wright continue to battle for the backup safety position behind Ryan Walters.

• Beginning this morning, practices are closed to the public. (Sunday practices will be open to the public once the season starts). But there were two new signs inside the practice field facility Sunday. A large sign greeted players as they came inside the gates that read "DETAILS." On the far fence, the words "1990 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS" has been hung.

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