Buffaloes football coaching staff knew this day was eventually going to come.
Eventually the true
freshmen of their most recent recruiting class would see significant playing
time and would have to prove themselves.
And while it was
apparent that the freshmen made their share of mistakes in their first
collegiate game during CU's 22-17 loss to Colorado State on Saturday, they also
contributed in key spots and in key situations on both sides of the ball for
"The young guys
played well, with this being their first game," coach Jon Embree said. "We will just keep feeding
them to the fire."
Much of the attention
during summer drills and fall training camp was put on freshman cornerback Yuri Wright, but it was
another frosh corner-Kenneth
Crawley-that found himself atop the depth chart prior to the
opening game with Colorado State.
Crawley had an
immediate impact for the Buffs as he finished with 10 total tackles, which tied
for the second most by Colorado in the game.
Washington, D.C., native's duties weren't just in the secondary, but also on
special teams as he was the team's leading punt returner.
After the game, he
admitted that he was a little nervous after CSU went three-and-out on their
"I was getting
the jitters," Crawley said of his first punt return. "I was kind of
nervous at first, but I was able to get that out of the way."
In his first return,
Crawley immediately showed his versatility and his impact on special teams as
he returned the punt for 14 yards-matching Colorado's longest punt return from
all of last season by the now-graduated Rodney Stewart.
Crawley ended up returning
three punts in the contest for 38 yards, including a 24 yarder at the end of
the third quarter that set up a CU scoring drive in the fourth.
Another freshman that
saw significant time on the field was wide receiver Gerald Thomas.
Thomas' first collegiate game concluded with him
catching three balls for 26 yards and one run for 17 yards. He also started the game and became the
first true freshman to begin a season opener at wide receiver since 1972 when
true freshmen again became eligible to play.
Like Crawley, nerves
also hit Thomas.
"It was real
nerve-racking," Thomas said after the game. "Just all the people, the
fans and family in the stands-I was nervous at first playing in front of all of
But also like
Crawley, Thomas' nerves subsided which was something that his teammates took
"Gerald I know
on offense, being split out with me, he was calm," said fellow wide
receiver Nelson Spruce. "You saw him make some plays."
One of those
"plays" that Spruce mentioned was a spectacular juggling catch in the
first half. After tipping the ball several times in the air between CSU
players, Thomas was finally able to get his hands on the ball and hold on to it
as a Ram defender attempted to pull it loose.
"The ball got
away from me, but I was able to then concentrate on it and make the
catch," Thomas said of his juggling act.
Overall, nine true
freshmen saw action in the 2012 season opener, with the others being tailback Donta Abron, defensive tackle Tyler Henington, tight end Vincent Hobbs, safety Marques Mosley, fullback Christian
Powell, defensive tackle Josh Topou,
Next up for these
young Buffs: it will be focusing on getting better and learning from any of the
mistakes they might have made before Sacramento State comes to Boulder next
And hopefully when
the Hornets come to town, these Buffs won't have the same jitters and nerves
that came with playing their first college football game.
Crawley seems to
is out the window," he said. "Now we just need to step up and be
leaders and just keep our team going."