Before the H-Boys, before Mackey Award winner Daniel Graham, Houston, Texas-native J.V. Cain dominated opponents for the Buffs from 1971-73. Cain had taken over the starting tight end position by the end of his sophomore season, and was rewarded when Colorado defeated the University of Houston in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston in 1971. Two seasons later, Cain left Colorado as the program's second-leading receiver all time. He also earned two first-team All-Big Eight nods and a first-team All-American honor (The Sporting News) along the way. Cain was picked No. 7 overall in the 1974 NFL Draft by St. Louis. Tragically, Cain died on his 28th birthday in 1979 after a training camp workout.
Embree was a member of former coach Bill McCartney's pivotal 1983 recruiting class, which included 13 of the state's best prospects. Embree, who prepped at Cherry Creek High School, led the Buffs in receiving as a sophomore in 1984 with 51 catches. He was named first-team All-Big Eight that season. Embree then proved himself a team player when McCartney changed the Buffs' offense from a passing to running attack the following year. Embree caught just 17 passes during his junior and senior years, but played a key role as a blocker in the option game. Still, Embree left school as CU's second-leading receiving tight end (80 catches). He played two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams before returning as a GA at his alma mater. Embree eventually became an offensive assistant at CU, and coached Mackey Award winner Daniel Graham, before joining the UCLA staff in 2003.
Fauria emerged as a tough and talented fixture in the CU offense as it transformed from an option-based attack to a one-back scheme in 1992. The three-year starter amassed 98 catches in four seasons, most by a CU tight end at the time of his graduation. He earned first-team all-conference and second-team All-American honors as a senior in 1994. Fauria was drafted by Seattle in 1995, and is currently on the New England Patriots' roster.
One of only six unanimous All-Americans in CU's history, Graham, out of Denver's Thomas Jefferson High School, won the John Mackey Award, given to the nation's best tight end, after his 2001 senior season. That year, Graham had 51 catches and six touchdowns and an amazing 37 first downs. Graham left school as the program's top pass-catching tight end (106 career grabs). But Graham also developed into a dominant blocker, and helped pave the way for the Buffs' solid ground game in 2001 when the Buffs won the Big 12 title. Graham was picked by New England in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, and has earned three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots.
Hasselbeck was a three-year starter for Coach Bill Mallory's Buffs in the mid-1970s, after backing up J.V. Cain his true freshman season in 1973. Hasselbeck followed in Cain's footsteps and became the premier tight end in the conference, earning first-team All-Big Eight honors his junior and senior seasons. Hasselbeck also earned a first-team All-American nod by The Sporting News in 1976 after the Buffs finished the year first in the Big Eight. His 50 career receptions were second only to Cain among tight ends when Hasselbeck graduated. He was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft in 1977 and played nine years in The League. His son, Matt Hasselbeck, is the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks.
Dave Hestera, 1981-83
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