Growing up in Texas, William Sherman was surrounded by Longhorns fans.
Now, he gets to play against them.
Colorado’s starting left tackle, Sherman said he’s looking forward to the opportunity of playing against No. 20 Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Antonio.
“It’s super exciting, playing Texas back in our old home state, it’s an exciting feeling,” said Sherman, who graduated from Allen (Tex.) High School in 2017. “Everybody’s locked in. All the California guys have our back on this one because it’s kind of like our USC or UCLA, so all the Texas guys are fired up and ready to go to work and just excited.”
CU (4-1) has a roster loaded with players from California who get to play in their home state every year in the Pac-12. The Buffs also have 22 players from Texas and this will be CU’s first visit to the state since the 2016 Alamo Bowl. It’s just the second trip to the Lone Star State since playing at Texas on Oct. 10, 2009, when both teams were in the Big 12 Conference.
Sherman said he was a Longhorns’ fan growing up.
“Definitely,” he said. “Watching all the Texas games, Texas A&M games, Oklahoma games. Being able to play a Big 12 team, that’s really awesome to me. I was going to be happy with any Big 12 team (in the bowl game), but getting to play Texas, that’s really cool.”
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Running back Jarek Broussard also grew up in Texas and graduated from Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas. He said he was more of a fan of USC and their star, Reggie Bush, but he understands how big Texas football is in the state.
“Being in Texas, you’re gonna get all the stuff that really glorified (the University of Texas),” he said.
Broussard and Sherman both said they’re looking forward to having friends and family at the game. The Alamo Bowl is allowing 11,000 fans. With the exception of the season opener against UCLA, when 554 family and friends were allowed – for both teams combined – at Folsom Field, CU hasn’t played in front of any fans this season.
“It’s definitely been really weird but in week one, (offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue), he asked us, ‘Do you play with emotion or off of it?’” Sherman said. “Since then we’ve all been focused on just playing with emotion not having fans there. … If you play with energy, play with emotion, then you’ll be fine, so we’ve been doing that, but I definitely am excited to have some fans in this game. It’s gonna be awesome.”
Head coach Karl Dorrell said he’s excited, too.
“My wife can come to the game,” he said. “It’s been a tough year for all of us. We haven’t had family (at games). I think it is very exciting for our players and the families. I got emails from some of the parents how excited they are that they can actually come and watch their sons and they feel like it’s a bowl game for them, too, so it’s a good deal.”
On Tuesday, CU athletic director Rick George and Dorrell went to the home of long-time fan Peggy Coppom and presented her with the game ball from Dorrell’s first win, Nov. 7 against UCLA.
George posted a video of the exchange on Twitter.
“Oh my gosh! I’m going to cry,” she said as Dorrell handed her the ball. “These are happy tears.”
Coppom, 96, and her twin sister, Betty Hoover, became Buffs’ fans in their youth and attended CU football and basketball games together for decades. Hoover died of pancreatic cancer in August. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this is the first year in decades that Coppom was unable to attend CU football games.
CU is working to fill the shoes of inside linebacker Nate Landman, who is out for the season after rupturing his right Achilles’ tendon against Utah on Dec. 12.
Dorrell said Jonathan Van Diest, Quinn Perry and Marvin Ham are vying for playing time next to the other starter at linebacker, Akil Jones.
“Those guys will step up and have had some good practices and they’re attentive,” Dorrell said. “You can imagine that they know that this is an opportunity for them to play and I think they’re trying to take advantage of the practice reps and doing those things.”
Landman is also one of the team’s top leaders, but Dorrell said several leaders have emerged throughout the season, however, including Sherman, quarterback Sam Noyer, receiver KD Nixon, outside linebacker Carson Wells and defensive linemen Mustafa Johnson and Terrance Lang.
“There’s a number of guys that I’m actually really excited about,” Dorrell said. “They’re really coming into their own in terms of personality. They’re much more outgoing, they’re much more comfortable being in those positions, being in those leadership positions.”
Pac-12 teams are 5-8 in the Alamo Bowl (CU is 0-2), while Big 12 teams are 11-10 (Texas is 3-1). … Mason Maddox, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive lineman at Cherokee Trail High School, announced that he will join CU in 2021 as a preferred walk-on.
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