The Colorado Buffaloes took some positive steps forward in 2013 but have plenty of work to do before becoming legitimate contenders in the Pac-12. While plenty of talented young playmakers emerged in 2013, Colorado faces a difficult challenge replacing the talents of wide receiver Paul Richardson who declared early for the 2014 NFL Draft. While it will likely take a team effort to compensate for the loss of a talent like Richardson, it will be up to Nelson Spruce to fill his shoes as a leader in the passing game.
Richardson was a phenomenal talent at the college level even after missing an entire season with a knee injury. In 2013, he caught 83 passes for 1,343 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 111.9 yards per game average were the eighth best in the country last season as he showed no ill effects from his year away from the field. With a little more consistency under center, there’s no telling how prolific the talented wideout could have been.
For his part, Spruce enjoyed a strong sophomore season for Colorado in 2013, recording 55 catches for 650 yards and four touchdowns. He is the leading returning receiver for the Buffs this fall and will build on a budding chemistry with second-year starting quarterback Sefo Liufau in 2014. As the most experienced member of the receiving corps next fall, the pressure falls to him to become a leader.
But he won’t be alone in filling Richardson’s shoes in 2014. D.D. Goodson also returns after recording 22 receptions for 306 yards and a pair of touchdowns while redshirt freshman Bryce Bobo has come on strong as an option this spring. He recorded five catches for 132 yards and a 67-yard touchdown to be the star of the spring. If Bobo can continue to be a viable option in the passing game, it will give Colorado a trio of pass-catchers to help them take the next step as a program in 2014.