There's a lot of stories leading up to the Spring Game, but don't overload yourself; nobody wants to hurt anything before the alumni flag-football game's even begun. Here's a basketball story to warm up on...
Alec Burks has already enrolled for summer school classes and even has his fall schedule set up at Colorado. The Buffs` sophomore star is also heading back home to Grandview, Mo., today to discuss with his mother the possibility of leaving school early for a lucrative job in the NBA.
During an interview with the Camera on Wednesday at the Coors Events Center, Burks said deciding whether to return to CU for his junior season or perhaps provide his family with financial security is an excruciating one to make. "It`s going to be a hard one, there`s so many pros and cons with either decision," Burks said. "People think it`s easy, but it`s harder than what it looks like."
Most scouts and draft experts project Burks as a first-round pick. In Wednesday`s mock draft at NBADraft.net, the 6-6 shooting guard was projected as the eighth overall pick.
"It would mean the world to me," Burks said of playing in the NBA. "Growing up, you dream about it. And most people don`t get to live that dream. For me to have a chance to try and get that is lovely."
On the other hand, Burks is very close with CU teammates Shannon Sharpe and Andre Roberson. He would also like the opportunity to play in thePac-12 and the NCAA Tournament. "The reasons I would come back is I like playing college basketball, I like being at Colorado, you only get this chance to be in college once," Burks said. "I'd like to experience it to the fullest and play another year with Shannon and Dre. They're my two dudes, I hang around them all the time, and those are the reasons why I'd come back."
There are eight men who go to work every day in the coaches' offices for the University of Colorado football program who have deep connections to the program. In some cases, those roots are dug in three or four decades, and it would probably surprise many to learn that first-year wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy has been a Buff in his heart longer than men such Jon Embree, Eric Bieniemy, Darian Hagan and Kanavis McGhee.
Kennedy has his work cut out for his first year in Boulder. He has two players in Paul Richardson and Toney Clemons who were highly thought of wide receiver recruits coming out of high school. Every other wide receiver on the roster is considered a project in one way or another. With 13 consecutive games -- 11 against BCS conference schools -- this fall, it will be important for Richardson and Clemons to stay healthy and for Kennedy to coax as much as possible out of the others.
"We're not a finished product by no means," Kennedy said. "We've got a long ways to go. But the neat thing is that they want to be good and they have a thirst and a hunger to be good. So that's half the battle."
Re-read that first line and tell me that doesn't suggest to you a whole string of Chuck-Norris-esque jokes ending with "Jon Embree." Man cannot create a perpetual motion machine, but Jon Embree can!
Sometimes, you can learn as much about a football team standing outside the practice field gates as standing inside. The first difference I noticed visiting Colorado spring practice for the first time Monday was it sounded like a spirited practice. Players were cheering on each other. Coaches were vocal. And someone (Justin Castor) has a leg as evidenced by a "field goal" going "boink" off the hood of a car in the parking lot.
Jon Embree, Colorado hoping Pac-12 switch sparks revival - Jordan Conn - SI.com - A number of Ralphie Reporters (that's you) have posted this article, and wanted to make sure that it got to the front page..
On the first day of spring conditioning drills at the University of Colorado, Jon Embree stood before the 85 football players he'd been hired to lead. Settling into the job he'd always hoped for at the school he'd always loved, the Buffaloes' new head coach led the early morning workout the best way he knew how.
Spring Game - CUBuffs.com - Saturday, Saturday, Saturday!!!!
Spring Game Schedule - Shoulder to Shoulder
4 - CU Garage Sale and Fan Zone in Balch Fieldhouse
4:30 - Alumni Flag Football Game - Mac vs. Barnett on Folsom Field
6 - Spring Game!
After the jump, player profiles for Doug Rippy, Justin Castor, and Ray Polk!
Even when he arrived on campus in 2008, Doug Rippy looked the part. Learning to play the part was another matter, but in the spring of 2011 Rippy appears to have arrived once more - this time as a more complete football player.
"We always knew he had the ability, it was just a matter of time before he would break out," veteran Colorado linebackers coach Brian Cabral said. "He's having a breakthrough spring."
That's always good news in Cabral's world of heavy contact, where most of his "puppies" serve their scout-team time before growing and maturing into better-than-average LBs. "When he came back from the (Christmas) break there seemed to be a sense of maturity I hadn't seen from him. I don't know what it was, but to his credit, there's been a different commitment and maturity level from then on."
Ray Polk signed up in 2008 to lead Colorado in rushing. A year later, he wandered over to the defensive side of the ball. Heading into his junior year, the safety is the Buffaloes' top returning tackler on a defense that has many holes. And now he can joke about getting recruited all over again.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder has a standing invitation from new offensive coordinator/running backs coach Eric Bieniemy to return to the Buffs' offense. Polk's position coach and defensive coordinator, Greg Brown, teases him about filling the void at cornerback.
"It's always good to have coaches who want you to play at their positions," Polk said during this final week of Buffs spring practices. "As far as everything else goes, I'm still staying at safety. (Bieniemy) teases me all the time about coming back to running back."
Goodman missed a first-half field goal at Missouri on Oct. 9 and Hawkins finally turned to Castor the next time CU moved into field goal position. Castor trotted on the field for a 40-yard attempt in the second quarter. The snap was bad, Castor's heart was racing being on the field for the first time in his career and he kicked the ball low into the line. He never got another chance the rest of the season...
"It was pretty defeating," Castor said. "All the way up through recruiting they tell you a lot of different things and you get promised a lot of different stuff and more than one shot was one of them. I didn't get that."
Castor and new special teams coach J.D Brookhart agree that he started slowly this spring. Part of it was due to inconsistency from a new snapper and holder, but part of it was his confidence needing to be rebuilt. Castor has made progress over the past month and has given the new coaching staff hope that he might be capable of winning the job in the fall.
At worst, he will provide solid competition for incoming freshman Will Oliver. "He's got talent," Brookhart said. "He's got a chance to be a really, really good kicker. We're trying to get him into the consistent habits he needs to be in. Today he miss hit and made a 52-yard field goal. So his potential is exciting."
The return of kicking to CU's game? Go Buffs!