A successful high school career gave Chase Penry the confidence that he could do well in college football.
Experiencing some success with the Colorado Buffaloes last year was important, however.
The former Cherry Creek High School star enters his second season at CU hoping to build off what he did as a true freshman in 2021.
“It was obviously big mentally to know that I could go out there and make plays,” Penry said. “I think knowing that, now this year there’s a new expectation and a higher standard for me and our team. I’m going out there to meet the standard this year and make even more plays for the team so we can have a more successful season this year and get some wins and get this place rolling like it used to be.”
Penry didn’t put up big numbers last year — nobody did as the Buffs struggled offensively — but took advantage of some injuries to others that provided him an opportunity to get on the field.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Penry caught eight passes for 86 yards, including a touchdown at Arizona State. He also was used as a punt and kickoff returner at times.
“Honestly, I think my preparation and hard work leading up to those moments allowed me to trust myself,” he said. “I don’t think anything surprised me. I trusted what I was doing in the offseason and leading up to the season and during the season to continue to make plays throughout. I think my work this offseason is going to showcase that even more and I’m just excited.”
Penry’s offseason included injury rehabilitation. He went to Philadelphia for surgery on both sides of his groin in the spring, but is now healthy.
“I’m feeling 100%, feeling healthy; bigger, faster, stronger,” he said. “I’m really glad I had the opportunity to get that (surgery) done. I’m having a great camp so far and I’m just really excited for the season coming up.”
With a year under his belt, Penry is more comfortable than he was a year ago and he’s embracing what he’s learning from new receivers coach Phil McGeoghan and quality control coach Brandon Gibson — a six-year NFL veteran and former star at Washington State.
“I feel like with coach McGeoghan and coach Gibson just fine-tuning our skills, it’s just small stuff — like getting in and out of breaks faster and just fine-tuning our mechanics,” Penry said. “I think as a group and me specifically, we’re a much better group and a much faster and just smarter unit, too.”
It’s a receiver group that doesn’t have a lot of proven production, but it’s loaded with young talent, including true freshmen Chase Sowell and Jordyn Tyson.
Penry is also fighting for playing time with seniors RJ Sneed, Daniel Arias, Maurice Bell and Jaylon Jackson and fellow sophomores Montana Lemonious-Craig and Ty Robinson.
“We have a competitive room, so that’s the standard coach McGeoghan has set by bringing those (freshmen) in,” Penry said. “It’s been really good for us because no one’s comfortable. Everyone’s having to make plays every day and it’s just high energy. It’s a great room. We’re having fun and we’re competing hard.”
Penry is also competing for a bigger role as a returner.
Last year, he had three punt returns for 53 yards and two kickoff returns for 24 yards. With receiver/punt returner Dimitri Stanley transferring to Iowa State, Penry hopes for a bigger role in that phase of the game as he works with director of quality control for special teams, Chris Reinert.
“I got my feet wet last year, but I think me and coach Reinert have been looking at a lot of the technique and certain ways to spring those punt returns,” Penry said. “I’m excited for that, to get a bigger role with that and keep advancing my game in that spectrum.”