Throughout the 2021 season, JT Shrout spent a lot of time learning from Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell and helping his fellow quarterbacks.
There wasn’t anything Shrout could do on the field to help the Buffaloes, however. That made Wednesday somewhat of a special day for the junior quarterback.
As the Buffs kicked off spring workouts, Shrout was back on the field, officially practicing with his team for the first time since injuring his left knee on Aug. 14.
“It was really fun to get back out there with the guys,” he said. “It was tough watching last year every day not having the chance to do anything. So it’s fun to get out there and throw the ball around a little bit.”
Shrout transferred to CU in January of 2021. He had spent three seasons at Tennessee, playing in eight games, with one start, and throwing for 494 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.
At CU, Shrout got the opportunity to compete for a starting job and was battling with Brendon Lewis before his injury. Lewis, a second-year freshman in 2021, started all 12 games while Shrout rehabilitated his injury and tried to stay involved.
“I kind of took on a coaching role,” he said. “I tried to stay in it mentally as much as I could and then rehab through that process every day and just help Brendon and help our offense; (that) was kind of what got me through it – just trying to stay in the game mentally.”
During pregame warm-ups, Shrout was often seen talking for several minutes with Dorrell.
“Some of those talks pregame were, ‘What can I do to help? What can I look for on the sideline for you?’” Shrout said. “Some of it was just kind of cracking jokes. I’ve got a good relationship with coach Dorrell, so it’s a little mixture of all of that. Seeing stuff through his eyes and getting to learn from him last year was a good experience for me and I think it’ll help me on the field this year.”
While Shrout’s role in 2021 could help him, he is excited to get rolling physically.
Two weeks ago, Shrout, who still wears a brace on his knee, threw to receivers during CU’s pro day, showing off his strong arm and displaying that he is nearly at full strength. The Buffs will ease him back onto the field, however, as it is unlikely he will be fully cleared to participate in scrimmages and full contact drills this spring.
“It’ll all be non-contact stuff,” Shrout said. “We’ve talked about possibly doing a little bit of team (sessions) towards the end of spring ball, but right now we’re just doing some seven-on-seven. That’s the plan for now.”
Dorrell said Shrout is ahead of schedule with his recovery and “looked pretty good” when throwing during seven-on-seven drills on Wednesday.
Shrout said he feels good, but has to make sure he takes a long-term approach.
“I think you just have to listen to your body and try not to push it too much,” he said. “You don’t want to end up having to take a few steps backward. So just listening to your body and I think it kind of tells you, ‘Hey, you’ve gotta ease up a little bit today’ or ‘You can really push today because I’m feeling good.’”
Although he’s not fully cleared for spring, Shrout is competing again, not only with Lewis, but sophomore Drew Carter and redshirt freshman Maddox Kopp, who transferred from Houston in January.
The entire group is working with a new coach, as Mike Sanford was hired in December as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Now that he’s back on the field, Shrout is eager to get rolling with his new coach, a new offense and a new competition for playing time.
“I feel like there’s kind of a new energy and a new excitement that everyone has in the building,” he said. “I feel like we’re all getting coached at a very high level and there’s a lot of accountability being pointed and put on each and every position group. I’ve heard nothing but good things from the guys and a lot of excitement and it’s kind of showing up there with the energy that I thought we had (Wednesday).”