The Colorado Buffaloes are absolutely loaded at receiver. With Steven Montez at the helm and Darrin Chiaverini calling plays, the Buffs will play full-speed and attack the opposing defenses with an aerial bombardment. It’s difficult to become a primary option in an egalitarian system, but if there’s going to be any receiver to emerge as the primary target, look no further than Juwann Winfree.
A four-star recruit out of high school, Winfree played his freshman season at Maryland, but transferred to Coffeyville Community College (KS). As a JuCo star, Winfree was highly sought after, and the Buffs were able to secure his commitment. He transferred to CU in 2016 and it looked like he would be a significant player that season, but he tore his ACL just before the season started. Since then, Winfree has worked tirelessly to not just recover from the injury, but to reach his potential on and off the field. Now a captain on the Buffs, Winfree is poised to break out.
Even before his ACL tear, Winfree was never a speed receiver. Sure, he’s fast and has a quick first step, but he has so much more to his game that just run by people. While recovering, he was doubtful he would ever fully regain his speed, so he focused on crafting his route running, improving his hands, and becoming a more physical receiver. At 6’3, 205-lbs., Winfree is big and he knows how to use it. He would credit the CU cornerbacks for always pushing him to be more physical, because if you can body up Isaiah Oliver or Dante Wigley, you can body up anyone.
For someone with Winfree’s size and physicality, it’s ridiculous that he runs such precise routes. Colorado probably won’t need Winfree to take the top off the defense with fly routes — that’s likely Laviska Shenault’s role. Instead, he will probably be deployed as a primary option working intermediate routes. He has great footwork, a quick burst, and that physicality. It seems that Winfree is the perfect receiver to be a go-to option on 10- or 15-yard targets, especially now that he has developed more chemistry with Montez. He’s going to be a dependable option on every down, but that’s not to say he can’t bust open big plays. Just look at this ridiculous play against USC last year, a game in which he had 5 catches for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns:
With plays like that, it’s easy to see how Winfree could become a star in 2018. If he does indeed break out, the Buffaloes will have one of the most impactful players in the Pac-12.