Klatt has the edge to start at quarterback for Colorado

Updated: August 1, 2003, 1:29 PM ET

DENVER -- It's not official, but Colorado coach Gary Barnett says sophomore Joel Klatt has the inside edge to start at quarterback for the Buffaloes this fall.

"I have a great deal of confidence in Joel Klatt being the guy that's going to come out and run our offense," Barnett said Thursday at the Big 12 football media conference in Kansas City, Mo. "He's sort of taken over the club over the summer, the offensive side of it. ... He's the only one in that room that shaves. His maturity alone gives him an edge."

The position is open because last year's starter, Robert Hodge, graduated. Other potential candidates to lead the Big 12 North defending champion include James Cox, Erik Greenberg and incoming freshmen Bernard Jackson and Brian White.

Klatt is a 21-year-old sophomore walk-on and former minor league baseball player. He attempted three passes without a completion in three mop-up appearances last season while Cox redshirted, White and Jackson were seniors in high school and Greenberg completed his Mormon mission.

Barnett said Klatt was the one player among them who could command respect.

"Klatt, just being a professional athlete, being 21 years old, and just the character that he has -- you'd have to know Joel to know what I'm talking about -- he just exudes confidence and he exudes leadership," Barnett said.

While Kansas State is the media's consensus choice to win the Big 12 North this year, Barnett said "you may want to rethink that one a little bit."

The Buffaloes are also looking forward to the Aug. 30 season-opener against Colorado State. The Rams have beaten the Buffs in three of the last four seasons, including last year's 19-14 win.

"We took 20 minutes a day (during spring practice) and worked on CSU schemes, which we had not done," Barnett said. "We will start on them earlier (in preseason camp). It's a very important game."

Barnett is 0-4 in opening games at Colorado, with three of those losses coming to the Rams. The criticism has come at him from every angle about not regularly beating CSU, which his predecessor, Rick Neuheisel, never had any problems getting done.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index