When Chase Penry gave his verbal commitment to play football at Colorado, life was quite a bit different than it is now.
In the 16 months since Penry made his college choice, the Buffaloes have been through a coaching change and the world has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic that has thrown so many things out of whack.
Penry is eager to settle into life as a Buff, though. After graduating from Cherry Creek High School this spring, Penry will move into his dorm at CU on June 14.
“It’s been a long ride,” he said. “I have been committed for a long time so I feel like I’ve been waiting for a while now but I’m just really excited to get up and honestly just get to work. Meet the teammates, meet the rest of the freshman class and then just kind of get on the path to where we want to be working towards our goals.”
When Penry committed to CU in January of 2020, he thought he would be playing for head coach Mel Tucker. Just a few weeks later, however, Tucker bolted out of Boulder and took the head coaching job at Michigan State.
CU hired Karl Dorrell in February of 2020, but just a few weeks later the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports and all in-person recruiting. Despite living 45 minutes from the CU campus, Penry has yet to meet Dorrell in person. In fact, Penry attended the Buffs’ spring showcase on April 30, but couldn’t meet with coaches.
“Our restrictions wouldn’t allow us to get really close to the field,” Penry said. “I’ve definitely had great conversations with coach Dorrell on the phone – many conversations – but we haven’t met each other face to face. I’m really excited to do that this summer.”
Penry is also looking forward to finally meeting his classmates.
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“I’ve been able to meet the kids in Colorado, but meeting the kids from other states is obviously a big part of just the whole experience and that was obviously tough,” he said. “I’m just really excited that it’s here. I’m just really looking forward to it.”
The advantage for Penry is that he’s had plenty of time to build a relationship with his position coach. Darrin Chiaverini, who is the offensive coordinator and receivers coach, is entering his sixth season on staff.
“That’s definitely been huge,” Penry said. “When the coaching swap happened, he was a big part of me staying on board. And then when coach Dorrell gave me a call after that, it just sold me even more.
“Coach Chev, we’ve had a great relationship for three or four years now, and he’s always been in my corner, always believed in me. So, him still being up there, it’s been huge.”
During his career at Cherry Creek, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Penry caught 167 passes for 2,193 yards and 26 touchdowns. He helped the Bruins go 23-0 with two Class 5A state titles the past two seasons.
“I’m excited about him,” said Chiaverini, who played receiver for the Buffs from 1995-98. “He reminds me a lot of myself at that age. I think he’s going to be a really good player at CU.
“It’s gonna be hard this year but what’s good about those young guys is they’re talented, they’re young, they’re going to be competitive. It’s a competitive room, so it’s gonna make them better.”
One of two receivers signed by CU this year, along with Eaglecrest’s Ty Robinson, Penry knows it won’t be easy to find playing time this year. The Buffs are loaded with returning talent at receiver, but Penry is coming to Boulder ready to compete.
“When I get up there this summer I think the biggest thing for me is to put my head down to work,” said Penry, who also averaged 10 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Bruins’ basketball team this year. “It’s a really skilled group of guys. I want to earn the respect of the guys but also the coaching staff, have them trust me, and then just go out there and compete every day like I know I can.
“I know what I can do on the field. I don’t let the moment get too big for me, so this summer and fall, I’m really excited to kind of show everyone what I have and get into the mix.”
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