A defensive tackle/nose tackle for most of his football career at Colorado, senior Will Pericak now is primarily a defensive end. He's played the position sporadically over the past three years, but now it appears he'll finish out his career on the outside.
"As of right now," Pericak said, "it's permanent . . . I've always played some out there, I've just never been featured there."
Of course, things can change by the week, and both of CU's D-line coaches - Mike Tuiasosopo (tackles) and Kanavis McGhee (ends) - said the 6-4, 285-pound Pericak could be an "on demand" tackle once again during the season.
But for now, he's on the outside looking in.
Pericak's shift was made after the opener against Colorado State in an attempt to get the team's best defensive linemen on the field. As of now, those would be junior Chidera Uzo-Diribe and Pericak at ends and freshman Josh Tupou or junior Nate Bonsu at nosetackle in the Buffs' 3-4 base defense.
Continued progress from freshmen tackles Justin Solis and Tyler Hennington also factored into Pericak's shift. McGhee said the backups at end remain sophomores Kirk Poston, who started against CSU, and Juda Parker and freshman Samson Kafovalu.
The biggest adjustment in moving outside from inside, said McGhee, "is there's a lot more space. I think to this point Will's handled it pretty well. We've worked on a few things . . . but you've got to understand when you've always played inside, it's different when you've got that kind of space. But the kind of athlete and ball player he is, he's smart, he's strong and he's a veteran player."
"It's different," Pericak admitted. "It's something I've got to get used to, and I'm not used to it yet. But it's something I really think I can do well at. It just takes time."
In two games, Pericak has made 16 tackles - the fourth-highest on the team. Included in that number are two tackles for loss and a pair of third-down stops. Six of his tackles (five solo) and one for loss came last weekend against Sacramento State - his first full game outside.
He believes he can "definitely can make plays out there . . . I think I can do some good things with it."
Double teams are more likely to inside than out, said McGhee, and that's one of the adjustments Pericak must make: "A lot of times you're more used to working in a confined space (inside) so you get bumped a little more. When you're outside, you're expecting it, but it might not come. That's the only thing. It's a weird feeling for him, but that's it, the only thing I can see as the biggest adjustment.
"As far as having the strength and power and the knowledge to play that technique, he's got all those. It's just him saying, 'Wow, I'm expecting something that's not there.'
A preseason All-Pac-12 and All-America candidate (he was honorable mention All-Big 12 in 2010), Pericak already is one of the CU players drawing attention from NFL scouts, who project him playing inside or out. But, like McGhee, their concern is Pericak finding his comfort level literally outside of what has been his comfort zone.
Pericak faces a learning curve, Tuiasosopo said, but added, "He's only going to go up from here . . . experience, toughness, intelligence - all the things Will is, he brings. And he's so dependable and trustworthy."
In August, Tuiasosopo predicted Pericak could be one of the preeminent tackles in the Pac-12 Conference, a player mentioned in the same conversation with Utah's Star Lotulelei. But rather than viewing Pericak's move as a position loss, Tuiasosopo sees it as a defensive gain.
"No . . . I don't look at it that way," he said. "Whatever gives us the best chance. Will and I are good. The thing about Will is, he's so unselfish that he's willing to do it. Other guys might look at it and say with what's ahead (NFL), 'No, I ain't doing that.'
"But that's part of our deal; we've got unselfish guys and Will is as unselfish a guy as there is on our team."