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December 2, 2005

CU's Mr. Versatile gets another shot

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DENVER - He was too fast to be called a fullback, yet too good a blocker to carry the ball on every down.

That's why Colorado ended up naming a new position for Lawrence Vickers. The Buffaloes call him the "V-back," and the V stands for versatile - or Vickers - a tribute to a player who is willing to do anything for his team and usually does.

"It's a great feeling to have a position made based on your capabilities and the things you can do," Vickers said. "It's an honor, really."

It has been players such as Vickers, a senior with 614 career yards rushing and 12 touchdowns, who have been the glue for the Buffs over the past three or four tumultuous, yet still successful years at CU.

On the field, he's dependable. Off the field, devoted to the team.

"A guy who loves to play the game," coach Gary Barnett calls him. "And more than anything else, he brings that kind of spirit and energy to practice and that rubs off."

Vickers loves playing, no matter the situation. While human nature might dictate that a guy like Vickers, who ran for 4,610 yards at his Houston high school, wouldn't take to his role, he has.

Sure, he could have been the guy who got all the carries for the Buffs, racking up the yardage, scoring all the touchdowns. Instead, he often found himself blocking for Bobby Purify and Hugh Charles, relegated to a few carries a game and maybe a pass or two thrown his way.

He accepted it, embraced it and realized his role was bigger than merely carrying the ball.

"There's just something about the competition that I love," he said going into Saturday's Big 12 Conference title game against No. 2 Texas in his hometown.

Despite his willingness to take a lower profile, maybe his best game came Nov. 5 in a 41-12 win over Missouri, when Charles couldn't go because of an ankle injury.

Despite not getting the reps at practice during the week, Vickers took over at tailback and ran for a career-high 85 yards and four touchdowns. Barnett tried to give him the day off on special teams, but Vickers insisted on playing.

"He wanted to be in the game every snap and you love an attitude like that," Barnett said.

The coach said he tries to get Vickers involved in every game plan, but sometimes formations dictate that the senior sit out.

Still, the coach acknowledges, and doesn't disagree with what many casual observers see: "It seems every time he's involved, we win, and every time we lose, he's not involved."

And that is about as nice a compliment as a player can receive.

For more coverage of the Colorado Buffaloes, check out BuffStampede.com.

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