Slot machine

Colorado running back Brian Lockridge redshirted last season while recovering from hernia surgery. He's back and ready for the start of spring ball and learning a new position. Without even stepping on the field he has already captured the attention of head coach Dan Hawkins. Get inside for more.

Brian Lockridge has spent plenty of time in recent weeks running pass routes and catching balls in the practice bubble during seven-on-seven work as he prepares to take a crack at playing slot receiver this spring.

Lockridge doesn't know how much time he will spend at the position and how much he will focus on playing running back. In the end, he said it doesn't matter as long as he helps the team and earns some playing time in the fall.

"I'm fully recovered and healthy," Lockridge said. "I'm just real happy to be back. Whatever I can do to help motivate the team and help the team out whether it's as a slot receiver, in the backfield or on special teams, I'll be ready to do that."

The Buffs have a stable of five running backs who all have earned playing time in the past, including Lockridge, Darrell Scott, Demetrius Sumler, Kevin Moyd and Rodney Stewart. Coaches have spent the offseason scheming up ways to get at least two of those players, and maybe three, on the field at the same time.

Imagine for a moment an offense with Scott and Sumler in the backfield with Lockridge or Stewart lined up against a safety or linebacker in the slot while wide receivers such as Josh Smith and Markques Simas occupy defenders outside.

"That's one great thing I'm looking forward to is me against the linebacker," Lockridge said. "Nine out of 10 times I better win that."

Lockridge has built a reputation during his two years in Boulder as one of the hardest working players on the roster and perhaps the most energetic. He actually has had to eat fast food, such as McDonald's, in the past, just to keep weight on because of a high metabolism. He runs more than any other player on the practice field, sprinting back to the huddle at the end of plays.

That work ethic carried over during his recovery and this winter's strength and conditioning program. Coach Dan Hawkins has mentioned Lockridge on numerous occasions in recent weeks as a player he is anxious to see back on the field.

Lockridge is just as eager. He spent part of Monday afternoon, the day before spring ball started, in the practice bubble running pass routes and catching balls from a few teammates who joined him.

"I'm real excited," Lockridge said. "It's a new position for me. I'm going on my fourth year playing football, fourth or fifth, and I'm just really excited to learn the position.

"And for the future, it's better for me to be a more well-rounded running back as well and not just confine myself to the backfield. I can like split out and spread out the field as well.

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