CU Season Preview – Tight Ends / Fullbacks


Tight Ends


— Seniors: Sean Irwin

— Juniors: Chris Hill; Brian Boatman

— Sophomores: Dylan Keeney

— Red-shirt freshmen: Chris Bounds

— True freshmen:

bold (returning starter) … italicized (walk-on)



— Seniors: None

— Juniors: George Frazier

— Sophomores: None

— Red-shirt freshmen: None

— True Freshmen: None


Reason to be excited:

Sean Irwin has “dark horse” All-Pac-12 potential

Buff fans have been waiting three years for a Colorado tight end to have a good season under head coach Mike MacIntyre.

Year Four might be the year … and ESPN’s Ted Miller agrees.

Senior Sean Irwin was recently named by ESPN as a Buff with “dark-horse” all-Pac-12 potential this season.

“Irwin caught only 15 passes last year, but his 16.5 yards per reception hints that the rising senior perhaps should have been targeted more often,” wrote Miller. “That figures to happen this fall with the departure of record-setting receiver Nelson Spruce. While Irwin isn’t huge — 6-foot-3, 245 pounds — he’s an asset as a run blocker, too.”

Irwin agrees that he can be an asset to the CU offense.

“I do the best I can with catching the ball because I only get so many opportunities,” Irwin told Neill Woelk at “I like to think I’m the whole package when it comes to tight end — it’s what I truly believe. But if I had to define myself, I’d have to err on the side of caution and call myself a blocking tight end. I don’t run a 4.5 or 4.6 (40-yard dash). I’m not 220 pounds.

“But I do like to hit people. I can do that.”

Even head coach Mike MacIntyre sees the potential in Irwin. “Some guys are just receivers or some guys are just blockers,” MacIntyre said. “(Irwin) really can do both, and he’s been doing a lot of good things for us and I’m excited about his senior year.”

George Frazier is an underutilized weapon 

Arguably, there is not much to be excited about when you are talking about a fullback who had no carries in 2015, with the only offensive production being six catches for 31 yards and one touchdown.

Unless you are talking about CU’s George Frazier.

The Buffs’ 6’2″, 260-pound fullback doesn’t mind the lack of notoriety … or carries.

“As long as the team is winning I’m not worried about all the stats and things like that, I’m just trying to play for wins”, Frazier told BSN Denver. “I’ve been very proud of the way we’ve run the ball, I love it, as long as we’re dominating teams left and right I’m happy. If the running backs are not complaining about the holes, whether I’m at tight end or fullback I love it.”

“George is a great teammate, George is really bright, too,” said head coach Mike MacIntyre. “He can handle a lot of different things, that’s why you see him playing a lot of different positions. You look at all he does for us, from punt team, to field goal, to block team, fullback, tight end, running back in short yardage, whatever, he does it all. He can handle all of that, and he cares about his teammates and he’s able to decipher everything, so he can help out a lot of people.”


Reasons for concern:

The numbers just aren’t there 

When Mike MacIntyre came to Colorado from San Jose State, he brought with him a resume which included the production of an All-American tight end in his final season in the WAC.

In his three seasons in Boulder … not so much.

Last season, Sean Irwin led the tight ends in receptions, with those 15 catches for 248 yards.

That was only good seventh on the team in catches.

After that, the next tight end on the list was Dylan Keeney, ninth on the team with six catches for 71 yards.

Irwin, for his part, isn’t concerned about whether his number gets called this fall.

“I’m not much of a stats guy,” Irwin said. “I don’t worry too much about my numbers. What I do care about is wins and losses.This is a do-or-die year. It’s time to go all-in. That’s it. I’ve seen three senior classes come through here and leave without a winning season. I think we’re all working harder this summer, we have more people coming in for volunteer stuff. We’re two months away from camp and we have a long way to go.

“But what do we expect? We expect a lot. We expect to win a Pac-12 championship. It’s time to get it done.”

Buffs lacking for options on fourth-and-one at the goal line 

Colorado lists exactly one fullback on the roster in junior George Frazier.

There are no backups. No incoming freshmen.

No Plan B.

With the graduation of Christian Powell, the Buffs lost their biggest running back. Incoming freshman Beau Bisharat is 6’3, 205, making him a candidate for the man for the job when the Buffs are facing a fourth-and-one or a goal line situation.

George Frazier could also fill that role, but he hasn’t been utilized in that capacity as of yet. As noted above, Frazier had six catches in 2015, including one for a touchdown … but no carries.

College football has been moving away from the running game for years, and Colorado is no exception.

George Frazier, like Sean Irwin, are left to find other ways to try and contribute to their team’s success.

Bottom Line … 

The tight end has not been a featured position for the Buffs under Mike MacIntyre. With only three scholarship tight ends on the roster in 2016, it would be fair to conclude that the tight ends are not going to be featured in 2016, either.

But, as ESPN’s Ted Miller noted, Sean Irwin took advantage of his opportunities last season, with a team high 16.5 yards per catch average. With Nelson Spruce off to the NFL, the Buffs are in need of a possession receiver to count on to gain eight yards on third-and-seven.

It would be a mistake to overlook Irwin as a viable option.

The same could be said for George Frazier at the fullback position. It has not been featured in the CU offense, and is not likely to be this fall.

But Frazier, the consummate team player, deserves to have his name called a few times as well.

We’ll see.


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