A Look At CU's Tight End Situation

Colorado is down two tight ends this spring from what it appeared there would be when the season ended last fall. Tight ends coach Kent Riddle is seeing the positive side of the situation.

Riddle lost an arm wrestling match with offensive line coach Jeff Grimes right after the holidays. Grimes' purse for winning the showdown was sophomore Nate Solder.

Kidding aside, Solder made the move from tight end to offensive tackle this offseason because his future is at that position, due to his 6-9, 275-and-growing frame. It appears the move will stick.

What was unforeseen was the absence of junior Riar Geer, who is suspended from the team indefinitely for his alleged involvement in an off-field fight. Geer's status with the team is pending the outcome of his legal case stemming from the altercation.

Geer was the most experienced tight end on the roster. He led the team in receptions two years ago before taking on a bigger role as a blocker last fall. But the way Riddle sees it, Geer's absence opens the door for some other players to gain valuable experience this spring.

"In a lot of ways, you've got a guy with a lot of experience (as in Geer's case); he probably doesn't need as many reps," Riddle said Tuesday. "So it's good to give these other guys a bunch of reps to find out exactly what they can do."

The other factor in play these days is that tight ends and fullbacks are being combined to play a hybrid role – sort of an H-back position. Numbers aren't a problem — there are eight players competing at the tight end or fullback position this spring.

Among the "true" tight ends, Riddle mentioned walk on Devin Shanahan as having a good spring through four practices. A junior, Shanahan missed last fall after suffering a torn knee ligament in early August. At one point a couple years ago, there was talk of moving the 6-5 player to wide receiver, but Riddle said, "He's put on weight and gotten stronger." (Shanahan's up to 240 pounds now).

This coming August, the numbers at tight end will grow when true freshmen Ryan Deehan, Will Pericak and Ryan Wallace show up.

"We'll see if we can inject those freshmen in there and find out what they can do," Riddle said.

Riddle, who also coaches special teams, likes the competition that's developing at place kicker between transfer Aric Goodman and freshman Jameson Davis. Davis has the bigger leg. But both have been kicking well. Goodman hit a 52-yarder to end Tuesday's practice.

Kevin Eberhart really didn't have anyone pushing him last year. Eberhart was inconsistent — he hit some huge game winners, but missed some others that would have helped CU's cause. Some competition may have helped sharpen his game.

"It makes every kick in practice that much more meaningful, which leads over into games, hopefully," Riddle said.

• The Buffs were back on the practice field Tuesday, their first practice since taking spring break off. It was also their first practice in pads this spring.

• CU will conduct its first scrimmage of the spring beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Folsom Stadium. They'll do more live hitting than last year's spring scrimmages because they have a full allotment of offensive linemen now, compared to last year when the practiced with six through much of the spring.

Dan Hawkins said he expects the first and second teams to run roughly 50 plays each, and the third team to get around 25.

Currently, the weather forecast is for temperatures in the mid-50s and cloudy skies, with low chance of rain for Saturday.

• Though Hawkins said everyone made it back from spring break, a few players were out of practice today tending to class work, including FB Kai Maiava.

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