BOULDER - Jalil Brown and Robert Benjamin have caught up by telephone over the past month, but they haven't been face-to-face in several years.
Expect that to change Saturday when Wyoming visits Colorado's Folsom Field, where they're likely to see a lot of each other - but under very different circumstances.
Brown, a CU defensive back, and Benjamin, who is expected to be Wyoming's starting quarterback, were teammates for a season (Brown was a senior, Benjamin a sophomore) at South Mountain High School in Phoenix.
"We were pretty good friends in high school, but I lost a little contact when I came out here for college," Brown recalled. "I talked to him a couple of weeks ago, asked him how it was going before the season - things like that."
When Brown, now a junior at CU, entered college, Benjamin had a couple of high school years remaining. Upon graduating from South Mountain, Benjamin enrolled at nearby Phoenix College, where last season he was National Junior College Athletic Association's Region I offensive player of the year and was an honorable mention All-America selection.
His JUCO statistics (192-of-355 passing for 2,391 yards and 25 touchdowns with five interceptions) and potential drew a scholarship offer from new Wyoming coach Dave Christensen, who believed Benjamin could direct the spread, up-tempo offense that Christensen utilized with great success (ask CU) as Missouri's offensive coordinator.
Benjamin, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder who also was pursued by Utah and Idaho, was the only JUCO signee in Christensen's first recruiting class, but not the only quarterback. Wyoming also signed Austyn Carta-Samuels, of Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, Calif. He also was recruited by, among others, Air Force, Oregon, Pittsburgh, Purdue, UCLA and Utah.
Benjamin and Carta-Samuels each played in the first two weeks of the season as the Cowboys defeated Weber State, 29-22, and lost to No. 2 Texas, 41-10.
Benjamin's two-game stats: 19 carries for 85 yards; 24-for-52 passing for 207 yards.
Carta-Samuels' numbers: 10 carries, 14 yards; 15-for-29 passing for 169 yards.
Neither QB has thrown a touchdown pass nor an interception, but no TD passes in two games might be hard to digest for Christensen, who had former Mizzou record-setters Chase Daniel (QB) and Jeremy Maclin (WR) in one of the Big 12 Conference's most prolific offenses.
In Laramie, Christensen initially might be lacking the firepower he's accustomed to wielding, but his system hasn't changed. CU remembers it as the stuff of nightmares; over the past two seasons, Christensen and the Tigers thoroughly embarrassed the Buffs, flogging them 55-10 in 2007 and 58-0 in 2008.
"They're Missouri," CU secondary coach Greg Brown said of Wyoming's offensive scheme under Christensen. "They're extremely similar to what he was doing at Missouri and had so much success with."
Jalil Brown has no doubt that given time Benjamin can be the QB Christensen wants directing Wyoming's offense.
"He's a really good player . . . athletic in the pocket and can throw the ball," Jalil Brown said. "He's just pretty sound all around.
"He told me he was going to be starting and that he was playing pretty well. And from what I hear, he's pretty mobile still and they run him."
That it is Christensen's first season on the job (his first head coaching job, too) and Daniel, Maclin and crew aren't on the Cowboys roster is no reason for CU defensive coordinator Ron Collins to rejoice.
"You know what? To us right now, every team (CU faces) is the best team in the country," Collins said. "We've got to approach it like that.
Going into this, we're not in any position to say they're Wyoming as opposed to Missouri because they're a good team - they play good football.
"They're from a good conference and we've got to be able to respect those guys and know they're going to be good coming in here."
When your defense is allowing 500 yards and 38.5 points a game, what other approach is there?
BUFF BITS: CU coach Dan Hawkins said he believes receiver Markques Simas, who was suspended for the first two games, will return Saturday. "We'll see; he's still nursing that leg (injury), but we'll see," Hawkins said on Monday's Big 12 teleconference . . . . He also reiterated that quarterback Cody Hawkins, who suffered a mild concussion in the Toledo loss, "is fine." . . . . Dan Hawkins called the mental state of his 0-2 team "great . . . they practiced hard Sunday morning." As for not having the start anyone anticipated, he said, "We've been through this before as coaches, players . . . everybody drops a game here or there." He said the Buffs were "finding themselves" on offense and on special teams and must "clean up a couple of things" on defense. "There's a lot of football left." . . . . The Buffs return to practice on Tuesday afternoon.