Countdown to signing day: WR/TE

Junior Paul Richardson is the one proven commodity in a large group of wide receivers and tight ends at Colorado in 2012. Richardson is the only player in the group with significant history of contributing on game days, which means there should be lots of young faces and emerging talent on the field at these positions next fall.

Paul Richardson finished third in receiving at Colorado during his sophomore season in 2011 when he missed three games and large parts of two more with injuries.

Richardson was the most explosive weapon in the CU offense when he was healthy and on the field and everyone saw just how explosive he can be in a record setting performance against Cal when he made 11 catches for 284 yards and two touchdowns.

Richardson once again will be a focal point in the 2012 for opposing defenses, but he should have some young help to help the Buffs keep defenses guessing.

Tyler McCulloch, played in all 13 games as a true freshman for the Buffs last fall, catching 10 passes for 96 yards and one touchdown. McCulloch's playing time suffered when senior Toney Clemons shook off an early season slump and began to make plays, eventually becoming the team's leading receiver.

McCulloch, redshirt freshman Nelson Spruce, junior Jarrod Darden, sophomore Keenan Canty and the Ebner brothers, Dustin and Drew, will get their opportunities to establish themselves alongside Richardson this spring before the arrival of at least three true freshmen wide receivers who all hail from Texas this summer.

There is one more name to add to the list at wide receiver, though he could also figure in the mix at tight end. Junior DaVaughn Thornton hasn't been able to get on the field much in his career as a tight end because he has found it nearly impossible to add significant weight.

CU coaches moved him to wide receiver in the second half of last season but he didn't make much of a contribution there either, finishing the season with just six catches for 69 yards despite playing in all 13 games.

DaVaughn Thornton

Spring will be big for those players competing at wide receiver because coaches feel very happy and enthusiastic about the group of wideouts who will sign with the program on Wednesday.

Gerald Thomas, Jeffrey Thomas and Peyton Williams all add speed and playmaking ability to the corps. Williams will be a bit of a question mark because he is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the state semifinals in December. He might be a redshirt candidate.

Peyton Williams

Gerald Thomas

Jeffrey Thomas

Colorado needed help at tight end in this class and it appears to have added plenty with three talented players.

But before they are able to compete for playing time next August, coaches will have to work through a muddled situation there in the spring.

Thornton is probably the most experienced player at the position returning this spring and he might not play tight end in 2012, which demonstrates just how much opportunity and need there is for someone to emerge and stake a claim to the job.

Kyle Slavin had a great spring last year and didn't catch a single pass all season. Former defensive lineman Nick Kasa came up with a catch after converting to tight end late in the year, which should have lit a fire in other players such as Cordary Allen, who moved to tight end from running back before last season. Walk-on Scott Fernandez returns and Alex Wood, another former walk-on tight end, appears to have settled at fullback though it would not surprise anyone if he returned to tight end this spring.

Slavin, Allen, Kasa and Fernandez will be the primary competitors at tight end in the spring, with Thornton as a possibility. They are all that stands in the way of three true freshmen claiming major playing time in the fall.

All three tight end signees are capable of coming in and contributing right away, though at least one will likely redshirt.

Austin Ray, a 6-foot-6, 235-pound product of Columbia, Mo., is the highest ranked signee at the position, coming in at No. 34 in the nation, according to Scout.com. Sean Irwin, a 6-3, 220-pounder is ranked No. 39, but his weight might make him the likely redshirt candidate.

CU picked up a late commitment from Vincent Hobbs, a 6-3, 235-pound prospect from Mesquite, Texas. Hobbs was drawing late interest from some big programs, including Texas.

Austin Ray


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