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Colorado Football 2020 Season Preview: Tight Ends

The Brady Russell show added some new bandmates

Washington v Colorado Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

TE: Brady Russell, Jared Poplawski, Caleb Fauria, Nick Fisher, Matt Lynch, Louis Passarello

Long time readers of my writing (I’m so terribly sorry if that is you) know that I swoon over tight ends. They are my favorite position on offense. A reliable pass-catcher that doesn’t mess around? Yes, please. A fullback that knocks people on their ass? Yes, please. Tight ends are both of those things! A great tight end is the hardest thing to game plan for. While the Colorado Buffaloes traditionally have had great tight ends, right now they are settling for good. However, good is a huge step up from non-existent, and Brady Russell certainly is good.

Brady Russell is entering his third year of being a contributor on the Buffs, and yet he’s still only an upcoming junior. Given eligibility is given out like candy this year, it’s possible that we have three more years of Brady on this team. He could never leave! I hope he doesn’t. Russell has obvious shortcomings as a tight end that even he would acknowledge - he doesn’t have a lot of height, he doesn’t have game-breaking speed, and he isn’t that shifty. However, he has been nothing but productive in the run and pass game for the past two years.

Russell caught 23 balls in 2019, which FEELS like more tight end catches than during the entirety of the Mike MacIntyre tenure. With a change in head coach and offensive coordinator, his outsized role in the pass game may be in jeopardy. But I sure hope not. Brady deserves the ball on 2nd and 8s and 3rd and 5s, because he will keep the drive alive. He deserves to be on the field on every play because he can seal holes and bury linebackers. Coach Chiaverini understands how good Brady Russell is, and I hope the tight ends factor in his new look playbook. Put him in the backfield, in line, or in the slot, just keep him on the field.

At 6’2 and around 250 pounds, he fits a lot of different formations and set ups, but I think he would excel in a play-action heavy offense. His skill in all areas of the game means that his presence on the field doesn’t tip anything off to the defense, which is great in a hurry up no huddle offense. If you can move fast and keep the defense guessing, your offense will succeed. Brady Russell is needed grease that keeps the wheels turning.

However, as mentioned at the top of this article, IT’S NOT JUST BRADY THIS YEAR. Mel Tucker, in his short time here, and recently Taylor Embree (the son of CU legend Jon Embree) have done a great job getting talented guys into the room. Matt Lynch, the local product who transferred from UCLA after bouncing around from QB to TE, will play some as a receiving threat. He has great size, at 6’4 and around 230 pounds, and he can really scoot if he needs to. Nick Fisher, a transfer up from DII ball, is going to be an asset in the run game and in the jumbo package. He’s the biggest tight end, weight in around 260 pounds, and he adds some toughness to the team.

Behind them are a bunch of exciting young bucks. Caleb Fauria is coming back from injury, and the son of Buff legend Christian Fauria is the most natural receiver of this group. Louis Passarello is an all-around piece, and while he isn’t young, Jared Poplawski has not really seen the field due to a lot of injury. We hope he can stay healthy enough to make a difference in this room, because he has the talent.

Taylor Embree is a great young coach. He was a huge piece of some solid UCLA teams, then immediately went into coaching. After helping in the NFL under his dad with the San Francisco 49ers, Karl Dorrell tapped his old contacts and brought Embree to Boulder. He has been energetic on the recruiting trail and he has the bonafides needed to make a difference here.