Spring Practices … First Look: Tight Ends and Fullbacks

Program Note … Spring practices will begin February 16th (Spring Game: March 17th), so over the six weeks, previews will be posted for each unit of the 2018 Colorado roster.

Previously posted: QuarterbacksWide ReceiversUp next (Sunday): Normally, up next would be the running backs or the offensive line, but, as CU is currently pursuing junior college and graduate transfers for these units, we may move on to a defensive unit, then come back to the offense …

The roster: 

Players lost (with 2017 season stats) … George Frazier (49 career games; 11 starts … one catch for nine yards)

WIDE RECEIVERS (5 scholarship):

Seniors: Dylan Keeney; Eddy Lopez
Juniors: Chris Bounds; Darrion Jones
Sophomores: Jared Poplawski
Redshirt freshmen: none
True freshmen: none

The stats (2017):

Chris Bounds … Played in all 12 games; one start … Seven receptions for 102 yards; two touchdowns

Dylan Keeney … Didn’t play in 2017 … Played in 11 games in 2016; one start … one reception for eight yards

Eddy Lopez … Played in eight games … used as a blocker in CU’s “jumbo package” in short yardage situations

Jared Poplawski … Played in nine games as a true freshman … no stats

Darrion Jones … Played in eight games (Los Angeles Harbor College) … 41 receptions for 795 yards; five touchdowns


Welcome to the University of Colorado’s witness protection program.

Got a young man you want to hide, but he’s 6’4″, 230-pounds, and might otherwise stand out in a crowd?

No problem.

CU will take him, give him a uniform, and call him a tight end or fullback.

Okay, perhaps it’s not that bad for Buff tight ends and fullbacks … but it’s close.

Chris Bounds led the group last season, with all of seven receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Not exactly huge numbers, but they were actually a step forward from previous seasons:

— In 2016, three Buff tight ends tied for the season lead in receptions – with one apiece. It was the lowest production from the tight end position since, well, ever. Since CU started tracking tight end receptions as a separate category in 1964, the fewest receptions a tight end for a season was four (George Heminway in 1987; John Perak in 1988). In 2016, the entire unit produced only three catches;

— Chris Bounds’ two touchdowns in 2017 were the most for a CU tight end since 2012, when Nick Kasa had three on the year; and

— Bounds had both of his touchdowns in one game (against Arizona), marking the first time a Buff tight end had two touchdown receptions in a game since 2005, when Joe Klopfenstein had two against Kansas.

Baby steps.

Now, with former offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren moving on to ply his trade at Oregon State, Colorado will enter spring practices on February 16th under new leadership, with wide receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini and offensive line coach Klayton Adams wearing the hats as co-offensive coordinators.

What will that mean for the tight ends and fullbacks?

To be determined.

Colorado did not sign a freshman from Recruiting Class of 2018, but the Buffs did bring in a junior college transfer by the name of Darrion Jones. Jones comes to CU as a three-star prospect (with three years to play two), rated as the No. 6 tight end prospect in the nation, and the No. 77 junior college prospect overall.

Last season, in eight games at Los Angeles Harbor Community College, Jones had 41 receptions for 795 yards and five touchdowns.

That’s more receptions, yards receiving, and touchdowns than all of Colorado’s tight ends have posted in the past five years combined.

Does that mean that Colorado is actually going to throw the ball to the tight ends this fall?

Not so fast, my friend.

First, while Jones did have almost 100 yards receiving per game last year, it is worth noting that those numbers were posted with Jones a member of the Los Angeles Harbor Community College Seahawks, and came against the likes of Grossmont College and Bakersfield College (and, sad to report … the Seahawks went 2-8 in 2017).

Second, Buff fans also had great excitement for Chris Bounds when he came in a few years ago, and for Jared Poplawski when he came in as part of the Recruiting Class of 2017. When the fall rolled around, however, it was another year with precious few passes thrown to tight ends.

Will 2018 finally be the season with production from the tight end position?

We won’t know for sure until September, but Darrion Jones has enrolled at CU, and will be participating in spring practices.

Buff fans will be paying close attention to the news coming out of spring practices this February and March to see if Darrion Jones is becoming a factor in the new CU offense …

… or just another name on the roster.



14 Replies to “Spring Ball First Look: TE/FB”

  1. From Rivals.

    This is pretty good.

    Is Darrion Jones a guy that you think can play this season and what does he bring to your offense?

    Chiaverini: “I’m really excited about Darrion because he fills a really big need for us. Obviously, we have our two tight ends right now with Chris Bounds and Jared Poplawski, but we needed to get a little bit more athletic and a little bit bigger there, and I think Darrion brings that to the table. He’s going to fill some spots for us personnel-wise so we can be in four-wide, but he’s a tight end in the slot. I really feel like he was someone that we had to have. If you watch his film, he’s very athletic and a good call catcher. I’m excited that he’s with us.”

    Well there ya go. Chev says TE in the 4 wide. Nice.

    Go Buffs

  2. Tight ends.

    The use or lack of use and why this situations exists deserves a long dissertation to clarify the past/current/future situations for the Mighty Buffalo tight ends. Soooooooooooooo

    Mac had a TE that caught like 50 passes one year at SJS
    TE/rb coached by Adams first 3 years Oline coached by bernardee
    TE coached by bernardee last 2 years. Oline coached by Adams.

    Shuffle the weak sheeeeet………..protect em……….he is protected.

    Hope the “Bobsy Twins” figure it out………otherwise a wasted position….

    Go Buffs.

    Note: The good news is there will be 8 tight ends in camp so bernardeee will have something to do.

  3. I’ve long been puzzled as to why we don’t use the TE in the passing offense. If we have a 6’5″ QB throwing to a TE that’s 6’7″ and 260+ lbs, why isn’t that good for 5-10yds? You recruit TE’s that can catch, like the guys who didn’t make the basketball team. They’re big, fast, hands like shovels, and an impressive vertical jump.

    1. Sounds simple don’t it? But if your OC does not have the where-with-all to design the play let alone when to use it, well there ya go. 6’5 to 6’7 is so gimmee like.


      Hopefully the “New-Two” can figure this out.


  4. Stuart

    Thought Keeney never played last season, waiting to recover from that back injury? Pretty sure Poplawski had the one catch.

  5. This just in
    Every single tight end currently on the beaver roster has asked for a transfer.
    Just kidding of course……but stay tuned
    I dont go with the excuse that none of em could catch. They did have a few drops but as many reps as they got, or lack thereof, its not surprising. Adding a tight end as a receiver to the offense equation my have been past the line of complexity for Lindgren to handle.

  6. I LOVE the intro about the TE position being CU’s version of the witness protection program! It has been many years since the TE has been a visible part of the passing game, and CU has ignored this component of an offensive attack that can create match-up problems for defenses and simply gives defenses another weapon to have to concentrate on. I would like to see the new co-OC team include the TE in the passing game as a target and not just for QB protection. Poplawski physically looks like a kid that can make a difference – maybe there is hope.
    Go Buffs.

  7. I always wondered why we recruited tight ends when we could have recruited another offensive lineman under Lindgrens watch. Hopefully Chiv will use all available weapons.

  8. Stuart, I know this article is about tight ends, but I have a question related to the latest Ashley Ambrose hire. Are we to assume that Ambrose fills the position of the 10th new coach allotted by the NCAA? Also, does that mean we’re still looking for a d-line coach?

    1. Since CU has two coaches – Brian Lindgren and Jim Jeffcoat – moving on, CU has three spots to fill. With Kurt Roper (QB’s) and Ashley Ambrose (CB’s) joining the fold, the Buffs have one spot left to fill … and that will be a defensive line coach.
      With Spring practices opening February 16th, the spot will need to be filled sooner rather than later.

      1. So it appears MM used the new allowance for a 10th coach to create the “Defensive Passing Game Coordinator” position, officially filled by Shadon Brown. There was no official announcement as such (yes, I know it was announced that Shadon Brown was filling this position, but it was never really clarified that this was what MM was doing going forward to fill this new 10th coach position), so thanks for clarifying the coaching changes some.

        1. Shadon Brown coached all the DB’s last year.

          This year he will coach only the safeties but also have the title of “Defensive passing game coordinator” So they will have two coaches working the DB’s

          Kinda like Chev being the receivers coach but all so holding the title of CO-OC.

          It all gets so confusing doesn’t it.

          So basically they get an extra coach on defense with the 10th coach.

          Had 9
          Lindgren fired leaves 8
          Jeffcoat fired leaves 7
          Roper replaced Lingren) hired back to 8
          Amrbose hired back to 9 (but really the new 10)
          dline coach to be hired up to 10

          I only show you this, cause I had to write it down to figure it out my self

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