February 26, 2008

Crop of young, talented receivers returning

Who's back -


Patrick Williams* (Sr.) Most experienced receiver returning; has caught 74 career passes
Cody Crawford (Sr.) Was placed on scholarship in '07; caught seven passes as a junior
Steve Melton (Sr.) Transferred in as a walk-on last fall from Saddleback College
Scotty McKnight* (So.) Was placed on scholarship after leading CU in receiving last fall
Josh Smith* (So.) Led CU with a 19.6 yards per catch average as a true freshman
Kendrick Celestine (So.) Had 151 yards receiving and 27 yards rushing as a true freshman
Kyle Black (So.) Former Air Force transfer moving from safety to wide receiver
Cameron Ham (So.) Rehab from a broken fibula nearly complete
Markques Simas (R-Fr.) Predicted to emerge as top pass catcher in the Big 12 in 2008
Jason Espinoza (R-Fr.) Was named the Scout Team Offensive MVP last fall

Who's gone -

Dusty Sprague Ranks ninth at CU in all-time receptions and receiving yards
Stephone Robinson Finished his college career with 1,641 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs
Chase McBride Averaged 9.6 yards as the Buffs' starting punt returner in 2007
Alvin Barnett Was ineligible last season; will not return for the 2008 season

* - Indicates player started in 2007.

Overview -

No longer is the Buffaloes' wide receivers unit perceived as a weakness on offense. A large group of young, talented pass catchers will be returning for the 2008 season.

Patrick Williams will also be back. The senior-to-be has not lived up to his full potential in the eyes of many, but he does have valuable experience under his belt. Williams currently ranks 20th in school history with 74 career receptions.

After starting more games than any other receiver in 2007, Williams will have to fight to stay atop the depth chart this off-season.

Josh Smith bounced back from a bruised kidney last fall and flashed big play potential. He finished second on the team with 451 receiving yards as a true freshman. He led CU with a 19.6 yards per catch average. The Buffs also utilized Smith's speed and athleticism in the running game. He carried the football 10 times.

Kendrick Celestine and Markques Simas are two more reasons why CU fans are excited about the future of the wide receiver position.

Celestine played in every game as a true freshman. His late 16-yard reception against Oklahoma helped put the Buffs in position to kick the game-winning field-goal. With legit 4.4-forty speed, Celestine is one of the fastest players on the team.

Unlike Smith and Celestine, Simas did not see action as a true freshman in 2007. He did not get to campus until right before preseason camp, so the coaches decided to redshirt him. Simas didn't have an opportunity to turn heads in Folsom Field last fall, but he did on the practice fields. Rivals.com recently named Simas as one of five "redshirt freshmen to watch" in the Big 12 this year.

Not yet mentioned is Scotty McKnight, who was placed on scholarship after leading the team in receptions and receiving yards as a redshirt freshman in 2007. He is described by Coach Dan Hawkins as a "baller", someone that might not have amazing physical attributes, but always seems to get the job done.

In addition to the influx of talent, the Buffaloes' receivers unit has benefited from the continuity created by having the same wide receivers coach for three years. Prior to Coach Eric Kiesau's arrival in Boulder, between 2002-2005, CU had four different wide receiver coaches.

BuffStampede.com will have more in-depth analysis once spring practices begin on March 17th.

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