After years in the dark, but the Colorado Buffaloes have finally understood the value of a good tight end. A season after the Buffs had six catches by tight ends (!), the Buffaloes have shifted from Darrin Chiaverini’s spread to Jay Johnson’s pistol offense.
As Jack Barsch wrote when Johnson was hired (seriously, go read that if you haven’t yet), Johnson’s offense requires good tight end play, both in blocking and receiving. In recent years, the Buffs have had great blocking tight ends, but have nary have they thrown to them a pass.
The Buffs have great tight end depth all of the sudden. Former walk-on Brady Russell is going to become a cult hero in due time, former running back Beau Bisharat has moved to the end line, physical freak Darrion Jones should compete for time and promising sophomore Jared Poplawski is finally healthy. The presumed starter is Jalen Harris, a graduate transfer from Auburn.
Auburn runs a spread option attack that requires tight ends to get out in space and open up lanes while on the move. The Buffs will use two tight ends in running formations, often with one or both split out. Harris is a terrific blocker who may have sealed the starting job with that skill alone. But what Auburn never saw is Harris’s latent ability to make plays in the passing game.
Colorado will need Harris to be a passing option that they have lacked in years past. When the line breaks down and Steven Montez is running for his life, it would help to have reliable hands underneath to be a safety valve. Harris looked like a solid receiver in the CU Spring Game and there’s certainly hope around camp that he could provide value in both attacks.
If this is all a lie and Harris isn’t actually used as a receiver, that’s a shame, but he should at the very least plow some dudes as a lead run blocker.
Most Important Buffaloes:
20. Tony Brown
19. Jalen Harris