Ayodeji Olatoye looks like potential All-Big 12 talent at cornerback at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds with a wide wingspan and a nose for the ball.
He reminds many of a young Jimmy Smith, who happens to be one of the teammates he credits for helping him find his way over the past year, his first in Boulder.
He said the advice and direction he receives from Smith and Jalil Brown has been "priceless" and has helped speed his development as a player.
Olatoye redshirted last fall but routinely made plays for the scout team against the first and second team offenses. He continued to improve this spring and should get plenty of opportunities in 2010 even with his mentors playing in front of him.
"I'm getting really comfortable with the system," he said. "We're not doing a whole bunch of confusing things. We've got our main bases and we're just getting good at them."
Olatoye said he has improved in ways -- subtle techniques -- the average fan of the game probably wouldn't notice. He is taking shorter steps instead of long strides and is getting out of breaks quicker and giving himself more opportunities to make plays on the ball.
"Now I've that I've focused on all that, I've just got to learn the rest of the defense so I know where my help is at and what leverage I can play," he said. "Once I learn the rest of the defense, I'll be able to play to my help.
"It will be a great advantage to me. I won't have to cover the entire field by myself. That's what I feel like out there, like I'm on an island by myself, but with my help, I can just play my half of the field."
Olatoye said confidence is the difference between average and above-average defensive backs, and combining confidence with solid techniques and knowing assignments makes a great cornerback. It's the place he wants to be, sooner rather than later.
"When you're out there thinking and trying to play you get short and choppy and don't do what you need to do," he said. "When you're out there playing and having fun, everything is just rhythm and instincts just take over."