As a sixth-year senior, Maurice Bell is one of the oldest players on the Colorado football team.
He is, however, fighting once again to make a name for himself in CU’s talented receiver room.
During a scrimmage on Saturday at Folsom Field, Bell was one of the more impressive players on offense and proved he is fully healthy from the torn Achilles’ tendon that cost him the entire 2021 season.
“I was pleasantly surprised,” CU head coach Karl Dorrell said. “He’s back to his old self and actually looks better to me than he was before his injury. I’m really proud of him for what he’s come back to and what he is now and we’re hoping he continues that.”
Bell, from Murrieta, Calif., played in only three games during his first two seasons at CU (2017-18) and caught only two passes for six yards in 2019.
In 2020, Bell earned a bigger role, finishing with 10 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown in the pandemic-shortened season. He also ranked sixth in the Pac-12 with a 21.57-yard average on kickoff returns.
Bell is hoping to have an even bigger role this year as he’s battled back from a devastating injury.
“Usually you do lose a step or two (after an Achilles’ injury), or you’re not as fast as you were prior to the injury, things like that,” Dorrell said. “But lately, if you do the rehab correctly and really stay up on doing everything, you can get back to close to 100% and that’s where I think Maurice is. I’ve been very encouraged. Plus, physically he looks better. He’s more developed. He’s put a lot of work in the weight room, too.”
Overall, Dorrell was pleased with the Buffs’ first scrimmage of camp. The team went through about 90 plays and came out of it relatively healthy.
It was also an opportunity to simulate some game-type situations.
“It’s good to see us getting some work,” he said. “I can see that the team needs this kind of work, because getting on and playing eight, 10 plays in a row is different than playing just two or three plays in a row like in a normal practice. Getting in game shape is a little bit more challenging than it is getting in just normal practice shape.
“We might have had some dragging a little bit on both sides but I thought the execution was pretty good. I thought the quarterbacks made good decisions. I thought some guys made some plays. I thought we ran the ball effectively. I thought, defensively, we did the things that we needed to do on that side of the ball. … It was a good passing of what I call ‘the first midterm.’ This is practice 10 and getting the work we got in I thought it was a really productive day for us.”
CU closed the scrimmage with a fourth-and-goal drill. The situation was the offense trailing in the closing seconds and needing a touchdown to win. Dorrell gave three different offensive units one play to score from the 1-yard line.
Brendon Lewis, the incumbent starter at quarterback, scored a touchdown run, while the defense won the other two battles.
“I like doing that when they’re tired and the game’s on the line to see how they’ll respond,” Dorrell said. “The defense stopped them two out of three, so that’s a good thing. You want guys that can respond when they need to in a critical time.”
As he did in the spring showcase in April, walk-on running back Charlie Offerdahl had some impressive runs Saturday. “I’m not ever surprised. I like Charlie a lot,” Dorrell said. “Charlie’s gonna play for us.” … Scholarship running backs Alex Fontenot, Deion Smith and Jayle Stacks also ran the ball well, with each scoring a touchdown. … Freshman running back Victor Venn caught a touchdown pass from Drew Carter. … Defensive lineman Na’im Rodman had an early sack and linebacker Mister Williams had a fumble recovery. Linebacker Robert Barnes and cornerback Nikko Reed also made some nice plays during the scrimmage. … Tackle Frank Fillip and guard Casey Roddick, returning starters on the right side, have been working together on the left side of the line as the Buffs continue trying to develop versatility up front. … Jake Wiley, the returning starter at left tackle, has been out this week with a concussion, Dorrell said. … Alabama transfer Tommy Brown, a projected starter at guard, has still not practiced as he recovers from a knee injury. … The Buffs are off Sunday before returning to practice on Monday.