BOULDER —Spring is over so it’s time for some rankings.

Colorado released its annual post-spring reps chart ahead of its spring showcase, but it took on a different form; instead of building a more traditional depth chart, the Buffs just created pods of players at each position and ordered them alphabetically.

Here’s what it looked like:

I figured we should make a more traditional depth chart.

I’m going to rank the top of each position in terms of how many snaps I think each player will play (obviously assuming full health). I’ve broken the roster up into four pieces so we can go through this exercise over four stories.

Next up is the offensive line:

Starting 5: LT Jake Wiley, LG Tommy Brown, C Noah Fenske, RG Casey Roddick, RT Frank Fillip

The big question seems to be at center, where Noah Fenske and Austin Johnson competed during spring ball and will continue to compete throughout the fall. We didn’t get to see much of the competition or who was working more with the starters but based on conversations with players and coaches it sounds like Fenske got slightly more work with the top group so we’ll give him the edge. Plus, Fenske was added as a transfer from Iowa last offseason, so he was hand-picked by this staff (well, by Dorrell at least).

Outside of center, the line seems to be pretty close to set. Jake Wiley, Frank Fillip and Casey Roddick all return from last year’s starting unit and figure to retain their roles. Alabama transfer Tommy Brown can play tackle or guard but he worked primarily at guard this spring and that fits him perfectly into one of two jobs left vacant by offseason departures.

Casey Roddick is a lock for the starting lineup. He’s viewed within the program as the team’s top lineman and the leader of the group. His improved conditioning was noted in particular during camp.

Jake Wiley started as a redshirt freshman last season with mixed results. He has the physical specs to be one of the conference’s top linemen, but there’s still plenty of technical work to be done. Still, he’s seen as the future of the position and I’d be surprised if he starts on the bench. If he isn’t improved in the early season though, he could be the first starter sent to the bench in a reshuffle.

If you’re looking for a darkhorse starter to be sent to the bench, Frank Fillip might be the guy. The junior was the favorite to start on the left side last season but had offseason left shoulder surgery, so he flipped to the right side to protect his weak arm. Now he’s fully recovered and continues to work on the right side. A return to health should help him pick up his game, but he was beaten a couple of times in the spring showcase.

Next Up: Austin Johnson, Alex Harkey, Travis Gray

As noted above, the most wide open competition right now is at center and Austin Johnson might have just as good of a chance to win that job as Noah Fenske does. Whoever doesn’t start will be the top lineman on the bench, likely by a wide margin. If push comes to shove and somebody needs to be sat down (or, knock on wood, there’s an injury), look for Johnson to play center and Fenske to move to guard. If the hole is at tackle then Brown would probably bump out to fill the gap.

After Johnson, the competition is wide open. We’ve got Alex Harkey up next because the Buffs lacked ready-to-play depth up front when they added him from the transfer portal over the offseason, so we’ll assume that they saw him as somebody who could fill that role. While the tackle is a young player who has never played at the Division I level, his on-field JuCo experience is much more valuable than any experience other CU linemen can offer.

It might be too soon to include Travis Gray in this category but a variety of factors push him up here. First of all, the Buffs’ line was ravaged by injuries in the second half of camp and Gray got extensive work as an early-enrollee freshman because of it. Second, the coaches brought him up frequently during camp, saying he doesn’t look like he should be getting ready for prom instead of participating in a Power 5 camp.

Dark Horses: Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan, Luke Eckardt, Jackson Anderson

Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan was the talk of the 2021 spring camp, in part because a lack of depth forced him to work with the first and second units. Even then, the coaches made it clear the 6-foot-10 tackle was a longterm project. He missed much of this spring, so we’re keeping him in the dark horse category for now.

Luke Eckardt was recruited to Arizona by new CU offensive line coach Kyle DeVan. He didn’t play at all in his first season and transferred to Colorado this spring. He’s probably still not ready to play but it’s clear the man in charge is a fan.

Jackson Anderson is another sophomore who could be ready to break through, but is more likely to need one more year as a reserve. The former 3-star from Texas could fit in at tackle but is more likely to play guard at Colorado.

 

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Henry was born in Columbia Falls, Montana and graduated from Columbia Falls High School in 2015. He earned bachelor's degrees in journalism and economics from the University of Montana in 2019. Henry joined DNVR as a remote staff writer in 2017, providing support to BSN's Broncos beat reporters. He interned at DNVR headquarters in the summer of 2018 and accepted a full-time position after graduating from UM. Follow Henry on Twitter - @HenryChisholm

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