Five Players to Watch

Colorado officially openend August camp today when the players reported to the Dal Ward Center. They'll begin practices Monday, preparing for the Sept. 2 opener against Montana State. Inside, five players poised to have breakout years, and who could be keys to Colorado's success this season.

Tyson DeVree, TE
The tight end will be a prominent feature in the Colorado offense, both in the passing and running game. They'll often use two, have them shift into an H-back slot, move them out wide, or line them outside the tackles. At 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, DeVree can beat linebackers up the field and has good hands. After sitting out his required transfer season, he has the opportunity to turn into a big-play weapon.

Brandon Nicolas, DT
Though still a bit undersized, Nicolas is the closest thing the Buffaloes have to a big, run-stuffing type defensive tackle. Highly touted out of high school, he transferred to Boulder from Notre Dame prior to last year after the new coaching staff took over in South Bend. Now, after sitting out last season, Nicolas will be thrust into prime-time duty, and will be counted on to take on multiple blockers in CU's base defense, trying to free up the Colorado linebackers to make plays.

Stephone Robinson should have a bigger role in the offense in '06.

Stephone Robinson, WR
Robinson is better than anyone else on the Colorado roster at making tacklers miss when he gets the ball in space. That's why he's been the team's punt returner the past two seasons. He also has a history of nagging hamstring pulls in August camp. If Robinson can stay off the injured list over the next four weeks, and steep himself in the new offense, he should find the ball in his hands a lot more on offense than he did a year ago, when he started the season at cornerback before moving back to his original position, wide receiver.

Daniel Sanders, G
Senior Mark Fenton is the reigning first-team all-conference center, and senior Brian Daniels will be a four-year starter at guard. But the CU coaches think sophomore guard Daniel Sanders could be the best of the three players, by the time all is said and done. Sanders, however, has to prove he can stay healthy for an entire season — something he's failed to do since his junior year in high school. He'll also have heated competition this August from senior Jack Tipton, himself coming off an injury (knee) and hungry to make a mark in his final year in a Buffalo uniform. But a healthy Sanders, Fenton and Daniels could give the Buffs a solid interior offensive line.

Sophomore Ryan Walters will compete for a starting safety spot.

Ryan Walters, S
The kid's been a Buffalo since he was in diapers, running around the CU practice fields with his father, Marc, and his teammates during the late-1980s. The way Walters hits on defense belies his former life as a playmaking quarterback at Grandview High School. Walters is reportedly benching over 400 pounds these days, and has long since proved he's fearless on the football field. This season, Walters' sophomore campaign, he needs to add some good decision-making to his arsenal so that fearlessness isn't wasted as recklessness. My hunch is he's ready to do that under the tutelage of Greg Brown, and we'll witness the blossoming of a very good football player in 2006.

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