Richardson could have breakout year for Buffs

Colorado receiver Paul Richardson had a sensational second half in 2010. Older and more mature physically, he's eager to see what he can do in 2011.

BOULDER - Paul Richardson isn't a math major, but he's done some number crunching since the end of the 2010 football season.

Colorado's dynamic receiver didn't really become a focal point in the offense until the seventh game of the year. During the last six games of his freshman season, Richardson caught 27 passes for 450 yards and six touchdowns.

Take those six games and project it over a 13-game schedule - which CU plays this year - and that's 59 catches for 975 yards and 13 touchdowns. Richardson is well aware of that, and he knows a 1,000-yard season is a possibility.

"I don't feel pressure," Richardson, now a sophomore, said recently. "I just expect a lot of myself. Me having a whole season, I feel I should do a lot better than I did last season. I don't call it pressure. I just have high expectations."

With good reason. Richardson was a pleasant surprise during the second half of the 2010 season. His dynamic speed and play-making ability make him one of the more exciting receivers the Buffs have had in recent years.

"The sky is the limit for him," said CU offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who is only beginning to work with Richardson. "Paul is a tremendous football player."

Richardson came into last season with high expectations. He was one of the most highly-rated prep receivers in the Class of 2010. He originally signed with UCLA, but an off-the-field incident led to him being dismissed by the Bruins - thus opening the door for Colorado to scoop him up.

Richardson was impressive in camp in 2010, but he got to Boulder late and he never really clicked with starting quarterback Tyler Hansen. In 6-plus games together, Hansen and Richardson connected just six times for 47 yards and no touchdowns.

Hansen got hurt in Week 7 against Texas Tech, and missed the rest of the season. Cody Hawkins connected with Richardson four times for 79 yards and two touchdowns that afternoon after Hansen got hurt. In fact, Hawkins, who has since graduated, and Richardson were a major hit together. Richardson caught 28 passes for 467 yards from Hawkins.

"He got involved late and he flourished," Hansen said.

Now that they've had more time together, Hansen and Richardson are starting to develop the type of chemistry they didn't have last year.

"Tyler and I have progressed a great deal," Richardson said. "In our open time, if we're not going over the playbook, then we're on the field going through routes - even without the ball. Just going through and getting used to hearing the route, getting used to body chemistry and if we change a route mid snap-count. It's worked. So far these first few days, Tyler and I have been connected and I have been scoring in practice."

Hansen, of course, watched from the sidelines as Richardson did his damage last year. While he watched, Hansen couldn't wait to get rolling with Richardson and he's excited about the possibilities ahead. CU could have several weapons, with receiver Toney Clemons and running back Rodney Stewart among them, but Richardson could be in for a breakout season.

"We have a number of plays specifically designed to get him the ball," Hansen said. "The more times he gets the ball, the more times we have a chance to score."

As good as Richardson was in 2010, he figures to be even better this year. In addition to have experience under his belt, he has matured physically. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Richardson said he has grown about half an inch and he has added 10 pounds of muscle.

"I'm way more explosive," he said. "My level of confidence right now is out of this world."

A confident Richardson could be quite fun to watch. New CU defensive coordinator Greg Brown didn't face Richardson last year, but has seen enough to know Richardson can but fear into a defense.

"The guy can run; he's scary when he gets (the ball)," Brown said. "He can go the distance."

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