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Colorado Buffaloes Roster Breakdown: Wide Receiver

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****Update: Thornton and J. Thomas have been suspended for the first two games on 2012 for the off-the-field incident that occurred over the weekend.

Wide receiver. Oy. I'm actually not as worried as most, despite the fact that that we return very little quality experience, especially if our star, Richardson, doesn't play in 2012 (it's still crazy to me that this is a possibility after he tore his ACL and had surgery this spring). I think we have some exciting guys in the pipeline here and hopefully August will bring us word of their accomplishments. Youth isn't always a bad thing.

Wide Receiver:

  • Dustin Ebner, Sr - He is on the two-deep at wideout going into August, but I wouldn't be surprised if one of the freshmen passed him by the end. Hasn't caught a pass since '09, but he does have a shot to see some time this year. Especially with so many freshmen and sophomores likely to get most of the time at WR, it wouldn't be the worst thing if a senior were in the mix, helping to keep everyone on track and up to speed.

Follow the jump to see who rescues the fair-skinned maiden from the Southeast!

  • Jarrod Darden, Jr - Darden is still here, but I'm still wondering if the ship has sailed. Good things have been said about the incoming guys and Darden never seemed to endear himself to the new coaching staff. He's one to watch during August camp because he's huge and could be a great weapon for us in the redzone, but he hasn't put it all together yet and his time is running out. Here's hoping he can put that 6'5" frame to some use
  • Tommy Papillion, Jr - Walk on (I think) transfer from Arizona. Don't know anything about him, but he's big, at 6'4" 210 lbs.
  • Paul Richardson, Jr - I was looking back at my last roster breakdown, and it was written before he hurt his knee. Again, it's crazy how not long ago that was, and that it's possible he could come back to play this season. A torn ACL is no small hurdle, especially for a guy who needs to be able to plant and cut, so rushing back could seriously jeopardize more than just his performance, it could throw a wrench into his entire career. If he's truly healthy, sure, we could definitely use him, as he's easily our most talented WR. But it might be best for him (and us, in the long run) if he sits out 2012 to ensure that he's fully healthy. He's battled a few injuries the last two seasons, so taking the time to get to 100% might not be a terrible thing for him.
  • DaVaughn Thornton, Jr - He's still here. He's a good athlete, but he's a tweener, and that's not a great thing in this case. Too small for TE, and so far, hasn't proven to be quick enough for wide receiver. But he looks like a better fit here than anywhere else, so we'll see what they can do with him. He may be in the same boat as Darden, a guy who hasn't quite earned the trust of the new staff, and I wouldn't be surprised if the new kids on the block jump him on the depth chart.
  • Alex Turbow, Jr - Walk-on. Don't know much about him
  • Keenan Canty, So - He's up to 160 lbs at 5'9", but that's still pretty small for a D1 WR. He showed some toughness in place of Richardson last season, and the experience he gained from that puts him ahead of most everyone else in this unit in that department. I don't know if he can hold onto one of the starting spots with the way the other guys have reportedly been playing, but I like his chances to see a solid number of snaps this season. He's got good quickness and can get in and out of his breaks pretty well. I'm interested how he stacks up against the smaller Thomas, a guy who is a little bit bigger than Canty, but also is supposed to have great speed.
  • Tyler McCulloch, So - McCulloch is one of the guys I'll definitely be watching. He flashed some ability last season, but mostly looked like a freshman pressed into action too early. But his game experience is good and he'll be counted on this season. I'm hopeful that he can be more than just the situational guy he was last year. He showed that he was able to use his size to his advantage occasionally. If he can do that with some consistency, he could be a real weapon for whoever is throwing him passes. Since we'll be inexperienced at TE as well, it would help a lot if he can make some strides as a bigger receiver. He's another 6'5" target.
  • Nelson Spruce, RFr - If Richardson is out for 2012, I predict Spruce will be our leading receiver. And that's not a bad thing. He was an exciting player in high school and it sounds like really took hold of one of the starting spots this offseason. He has deceptive speed, can run good routes, has good hands, and looks like he could be a very consistent weapon at wideout, which is something we desperately need. Even when Richardson has been healthy, he hasn't been consistent, and that's the word that seems to follow Spruce around. I think he will be at least in the top-3 on the team in receptions, if not the leader by the end of the year.
  • Gerald Thomas, Fr - He was described by Bakhtiari at Media Day as a "real speedster" and that is exactly what we saw in his HS film. Speed is one thing that our Receiving corps hasn't had a lot of in recent years, so I wouldn't be surprised to see G. Thomas get time early just to throw something different at a defense. Hopefully he'll be able to start seeing time in the non-conference part of the schedule, because that would ease a lot of the depth concerns at WR.
  • Jeffrey Thomas, Fr - J. Thomas has also gotten some good reviews from his teammates since arriving on campus. He has good size (6'3" 195 lbs), speed and hands, and I can't wait to hear how well he performs this summer. I don't know where he might fit into the competition at WR, but I think he's going to be a player for us at some point in his career.
  • Peyton Williams, Fr - He is going to arrive on campus in August and it sounds like that's when they'll figure out if he's recovered from his own ACL tear at the beginning of 2012 is healed enough for him to join the team right away and play, redshirt for 2012, or even delay enrollment until January and grayshirt. He has some wheels and good size, so hopefully his recovery has been going very well. I'm hopeful that he's healthy enough to at least join the team this Fall, if for no other reason than to start getting acclimatized to college life.

****Update: Thornton and J. Thomas have been suspended for the first two games on 2012 for the off-the-field incident that occurred over the weekend.

A lot of our hopes rightly lay on the health of Paul Richardson, but no matter how positive everyone sounds about his ability to bounce back from ACL surgery, I wouldn't count on him seeing the field this year. And you know what? I don't think that completely dooms our offense. I like Spruce a ton, and I think McCulloch can be a weapon for us. After that, there is a good amount of talent, especially between the two incoming Thomas kids, and Canty, who has seen the field and knows what he needs to do to be successful out there. And there's always the chance that Thornton or Darden break out and give us some meaningful snaps. It will be a group effort to replace the production we got out of Richardson in the first half of 2011 and Toney Clemons down the stretch, but I like their chances to step up.

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