Spring Preview: Wide Receivers

Coming off a disappointing 2006 season, particularly on offense, Colorado needs some receivers to step earn the trust of their coaches during spring practices. Inside, a look at the receiver position.

While a lot of focus last season was placed on the play of first-time starting quarterback Bernard Jackson, the veterans at wide receiver weren't exactly lighting it up on the field. Colorado struggled mightily in most phases of the passing game, accounting for just 1,422 yards through the air.

Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich ultimately points the finger at himself.

"Our entire offense was frustrating from a lot of standpoints last season," he said. "That's my fault, and we've got to figure out ways, whether it's the quarterback position, or receivers or running backs — we've got to get more out of them."

Part of getting more out of the receivers is getting them to run the same routes in games that they ran in practice – something that didn't always happen last fall. Helfrich said he wants to find at least two wide outs in spring ball, which begins Monday in Boulder, the CU offense can count on in the fall.

"Coming out of spring we've got to find for sure two guys that we can trust and we know are going to be in the right place at the right time," he said.

What about the three freshmen receivers the Buffs signed in February? Aren't they supposed to be all that? True, the trio of Kendrick Celestine, Markques Simas and Josh Smith have the talent to play their first year, according to Helfrich. But the coach quickly adds, it's not a good idea to have to rely on so many rookies at one position.

Alvin Barnett led the wide receivers with 21 catches in 2006. Patrick Williams (19), Cody Crawford (15) and Dusty Sprague (11) also had double digits in receptions. All four return — Barnett and Sprague for their senior years.

Also on board are sophomore Jarrell Yates and senior Stephone Robinson. Yates showed flashes last season, but didn't provide the consistency in practice coaches were looking for. Robinson had a nagging hamstring injury in August and seemed to lose confidence early in the year. Both will have the opportunity to earn snaps.

Whoever it is, Helfrich and company are looking for some receivers to step up.

"There are guys that are certainly capable of that, it's just the doing part," he said. "And then we'll get those freshmen to spell in those areas if they're all they're cracked up to be."

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