CU Season Preview – Wide Receivers / Tight Ends

Previously postedCU Season Preview: QuarterbacksCU Season Preview: Running Backs

Wide Receivers / Tight Ends


— Seniors: Shay Fields; Devin Ross; Bryce Bobo; Kabion Ento

— Junior: Jay MacIntyre; Juwann Winfree; Lee Walker; Dylan Keeney (TE); Xavier Cochrane; Kevin Dement; Cameron Frazier

— Sophomores: Johnny Huntley; Chris Bounds (TE); Erik Lawson

— Red-shirt freshman: Derrion Rakestraw; Derek Coleman (TE)

— True freshman: Jaylon Jackson; Laviska Shenault; KD Nixon; Sebastian Olver (TE); Jared Poplawski (TE); Curtis Chiaverini

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


By the Numbers (2016 statistics):

Devin Ross … 66 catches for 765 yards and five touchdowns … He is tied for 15th in school history (with his position coach Darrin Chiaverini) with 97 receptions, and is 21st in receiving yards with 1,113.

Shay Fields … 52 catches for 845 yards and nine touchdowns … On CU’s all-time receiving charts, he ranks sixth in in receptions (144), ninth in touchdown receptions (17) and 10th in yards (1,929); he has caught two or more TD passes in three career games.  A true deep threat, he has nine career plays of 50 yards or longer (seven of which are over 60 yards) … Rated as the No. 15 wide receiver in the nation by Lindy’s 

Bryce Bobo … 41 catches for 523 yards and two touchdowns … He earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors from the league coaches. He had two touchdowns on the year, including a game-winning, body-twisting, one-handed 31-yard touchdown catch that lifted the Buffaloes to a 41-38 win at Oregon and landed him with the No. 1 play on SportsCenter’s Top 10 that night (one of two Top 10 plays he was featured with on SportsCenter during the year – the other at No. 3 for a one-handed 46-yard reception against Colorado State).

Jay MacIntyre … 30 catches for 390 yards and one touchdown … He played in all 13 games, including 10 starts as the fourth receiver in the four-wide set … Rated as a third-team All-Pac-12 performer (all-purpose) by Lindy’s 

Kabion Ento … Eight catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns … He was awarded the Fred Casotti Award for most improved offensive back during spring practices.

Johnny Huntley … one catch for 14 yards … He saw action in 12-of-13 games on the season plus the bowl game; he was one of just four true freshman to play for the Buffs during their Pac-12 South Division championship season.

Dylan Keeney (TE) … one catch for eight yards …

Chris Bounds (TE) … one catch for eight yards …

CU wide receiver unit (Athlon) … No. 1 in the Pac-12; No. 5 in the nation


Reasons to be excited:

This could be the most talented wide receiver unit in Boulder since the mid-1990’s

And it’s not just the Buff Nation which thinks so:

– “One of the very best wide-receiver corps in the nation resides in Boulder” – Lindy’s

– “Shay Fields led the team with 883 yards and nine scores, but Devin Ross and Bryce Bobo are also All-Pac-12 candidates” – Athlon

Opposing defensive coordinators will have to pick their poison, as pretty much any lineup the Buffs put on the field, there is a home run threat on the outside.

Last season, Shay Fields had nine touchdowns, including a 70-yarder. Devin Ross had five touchdowns and a catch which went for 61 yards. Bryce Bobo? Two touchdowns (including the most important of the season, the game-winner against Oregon), but also a 67-yard catch. Kabion Ento also had two touchdowns, including a 69-yard score.

All in all, the Buff wide receivers had 19 touchdown receptions, and posted a total of 15 receptions which went for 40 yards or longer.

Even if Steven Montez didn’t have some game experience, this would be a lethal lineup. But Montez does have game experience, and over 1,000 yards passing under his belt.

It should be an exciting fall for the Colorado passing game.

The most talented wide-out on the roster may not have even caught his first pass as a Buff

But wait, there’s more!

CU six leading pass catchers from last season return, but none of them was considered last August to be the best receiver on the team.

That distinction fell to junior college transfer Juwann Winfree, who according to reports from CU’s closed practices, was the best wideout in the program.

Winfree was felled by a torn ACL on August 18th, however, and missed the entire season.

Now Winfree is back, and again is (reportedly) impressive in practices.

This fall, Winfree, who initially signed with Maryland after being recruited by schools like Ohio State and Georgia, will get his chance to make a name for himself as a Buff.

“I’m extremely excited,” quarterback Steven Montez said this past spring. “I think (Winfree) makes us incredibly deep at receiver. We were already deep before we had Juwann playing. The kid is a freak. He’s an absolute freak. He’s big and has size and has speed. It’s going to stretch the field and make us hard to guard in the passing game.”

… But wait, there’s still more!

Don’t forget about the freshmen coming in to challenge for playing time. Jaylon Jackson has been on campus since January, with Laviska Shenault and KD Nixon, heralded teammates from DeSoto, Texas, now on campus for summer classes.

Truly an embarrassment of riches.

Reasons for concern:

Who gets the ball?

Granted, it’s a nice problem to have, but it still could be a problem.

Wide receivers are showmen, and like to have the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities. Wide receiver coach Darrin Chiaverini getting his wide receivers to buy into blocking as a necessary element of their game has been a real positive. Still, for a star player – or a potential star player – getting only a handful of touches per game might not be enough.

CU has four seniors on the roster, including three starters. So patience will be the watchword for CU’s talented underclassmen.

Buff fans will have to hope that a lack of patience doesn’t turn into transfers come January.

Tight ends remain in the witness protection program

Last season, two CU tight ends were neck and neck for the distinction of being known as the leading receiver at the position.

It ended in a tie … Dylan Keeney had one catch for eight yards; Chris Bounds had one catch for eight yards.

Considering that Mike MacIntyre coached a tight end in his final year at San Jose State who was drafted into the NFL, it’s a legitimate question: Whatever became of the tight ends in the Colorado offense?

With talented wide receivers aplenty, it’s easy to see why the Buffs employ many three- and four-wideout sets, but the tight end position can (and should) still be effective, especially on third-and-short situations where a presumed blocker can pick up a first down with a quick pitch from the quarterback.

A quick renaissance of the tight end position in Boulder is not likely this year, but there is hope for the future. Sebastian Olver and Jared Poplawski were part of the Recruiting Class of 2017, with Poplawski showing some real potential as a receiver and not just a blocker.

It’s picking nits to post any complaints about the potential of the CU passing attack in 2017 … but we have to acknowledge at least one short-coming, don’t we?


Bottom Line:

— Not since the days of Charles Johnson, Michael Westbrook and Rae Carruth has a Buff quarterback had so many weapons at their disposal. It’s worthy of note that Colorado has produced nine 1,000-yard receivers in its history. On that list were 1,000-yard receivers in 2013, 2014, 2015 (Paul Richardson in 2013; Nelson Spruce in 2014 and 2015) … but not last year. The ball was spread around so much that, even in a successful season, the Buffs were unable to produce a 1,000-yard receiver.

Also worthy of note … only once in CU history, the Buff offense produced two 1000-yard receivers in the same season. In 1992, after playing a century-plus of football, and not having a single receiver crack four digits, Charles Johnson had 1,149 yards receiving, while Michael Westbrook had 1,060.

That record might be matched this season. Colorado has enough fire power in the passing game to potentially produce two 1,000-yard receivers.

Another record worth shooting for … never has Colorado produced a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season. Last year, Phillip Lindsay went for 1,189 yards on the ground, while the Buffs’ leading receiver, Shay Fields, had 845 yards in receptions.

2017 could just be the year that the Buff Nation sees a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season.

… They are that good.



4 Replies to “CU Season Preview – WR’s”

  1. The coaching staff – especially the CO-OC who calls plays (Lingering?)will again only get a C+ unless they begin utilizing the TE the way Michigan did against us last year. IMHO, their TE was the reason for their victory. Lesson learned ? Apparently not.

    I know our TE’s can catch the ball as – 2 yrs. ago – they caught almost everything thrown their way with only a rare drop on catchable balls. Why not just call them a “OT” if they’re never going to get a ball thrown their way.

    And… don’t tell me that our offensive scheme isn’t designed to utilize the TE as a receiver. Bull-malarkey.

    Enough criticism. Go Buffs !!! Our year to shine !

  2. So excited to watch our Wide Receivers this season! However, our three losses last season highlighted the NEED to develop a Tight End to block on short yardage and to keep the defense off balance with surprise short passes. Having our Quarterback run on short yardage or drop back to pass to a receiver, against the very good teams, will result in either a stuffed play at the line of scrimmage or a sack most of the time. To move to the next level, we HAVE to develop a power game, not just finesse. That’s why teams like Texas Tech eventually flounder (after destroying other weaker teams) when they play good teams late in the season or in bowl games. Their Quarterback is usually running for his life most of the game.

  3. So, why do you think the Buffs DBs were/are so good ?(three drafted into the League)?
    Because they practice against one of the best sets of WRs in the country!

    This bodes well for the re-loading of the defensive backfield, as well as the WRs.

    Same thing goes for the improved, experienced OL. You play like you practice and when you practice against quality during the week, its easier on Saturdays!

    (Ask CU BB player, Derrick White!!!)

  4. Lindgren/Chiaverini dont even use the tight end as an occasional surprise play. Not surprising looking at the redundancy of other plays. The old excuse that none of them can catch a football has to be bs.

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