There were 18 seniors on the Colorado roster in 2009—four of them were tight ends.
As a result, the development of this unit will be one of the most watched during spring drills and into fall camp.
The senior who will be most missed by the Buffs in 2010 is Riar Geer. In his four years in Boulder, Geer amassed 87 receptions for 974 yards and 11 touchdowns. His totals rank him 16th all-time in receptions (fourth amongst tight ends) and 22nd in receiving yards (fifth amongst tight ends).
Quite the accomplishments, considering he never played the position until he got to Colorado (in high school Geer played quarterback, defensive line and even punted).
In 2009, Geer was third on the team in catches and yards, with 36 receptions for 402 yards and four touchdowns.
Another senior tight end who was a regular contributor was Patrick Devenny. In 2009, Devenny only had 13 receptions, but he made them count, scoring three times.
Against both Texas and Texas A&M, Devenny only had one catch, but in each instance the catch went for a touchdown giving the Buffs the lead (his one grab going for the winning score in the A&M game).
Amongst the Buff faithful, Devenny’s most memorable catch may have come in the West Virginia game, an over-the-shoulder grab of 14 yards which gave the Buffs a 14-0 lead over the 21st-ranked Mountaineers. That moment, when the Buffs were 2-0 and on their way to an upset of West Virginia in a nationally televised game, may have been the high-water mark of the Dan Hawkins’ era.
The remaining two seniors were Devin Shanahan and Luke Walters. Neither player recorded a reception in 2009, and both were used sparingly in their Colorado careers.
Shanahan did play in every game this past season and Walters, recovering from a myriad of injuries, played in the final six games of the season. Walters, who was a transfer from New Mexico, lost a season sitting out in 2007 and then missed all of 2008 with injuries. Technically, he is eligible to request a sixth season due to medical hardship, but I have not seen anything to indicate that Walters will do so.
With four tight ends gone, the next question becomes who’s left?
Most likely to be in the starting lineup against Colorado State is junior-to-be Ryan Deehan. Deehan actually had five starts in 2009, as the Buffs often opened with a two tight end, one running back set.
Deehan saw action in every game this past season, recording ten catches for 91 yards.
Against both Colorado State and Kansas State, Deehan had three catches, with his longest catch of the year going for 34 yards in the game against Toledo. Deehan, at 6′5″, 245 pounds and a good pedigree, comes to the Buffs in 2008 after earning PrepStar All-America honors and being selected as the ninth-best tight end recruit in the nation by Rivals.com.
The only other scholarship tight end on the Colorado roster is red-shirt freshman-to-be DaVaughn Thornton. Colorado recruit aficionados will remember Thornton as being the tallest member (6′5, 225) of the trio of players the Buffs lured from Denver East High School last February (the other two being kicker Zach Grossnickle and tailback Quentin Hildreth). Thornton red-shirted this past fall, but should be in position for significant playing time in 2010.
Colorado also has a preferred walk-on at tight end with Alex Wood, a red-shirt freshman-to-be from Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
So, there is promise for the future with Ryan Deehan and DaVaughn Thornton, but the position seems mighty thin.
What is out there in the 2010 recruiting class?
The first commit in Colorado’s 2010 class came from tight end, Kyle Slavin, a three-star prospect from Chatfield High School in Littleton, Colorado.
Slavin, who is 6′5″, 230 pounds, and is considered by Rivals.com to be the 11th-best recruit from the state of Colorado. For its part, Scout.com has Slavin rated as the 41st-best tight end prospect in the 2010 class. Slavin was not dissuaded by the Buffs' 3-9 record in 2009—he’s eyeing playing time.
“They talked about that I am going to come in and already be battling for the number three spot on the depth chart,” Slavin told BuffStampede.com after his official visit December 12th. “So I really need to bulk up and get as strong as I can.”
Slavin did miss some time this fall with a sprained MCL, but he reports that he is fully recovered. “I need to get up there to visit this spring and enroll in summer school so that I can start to get the playbook and the terminology down.”
The other tight end recruit looking to make an early impact on the Colorado depth chart is Justin Favors from Trotwood, Ohio. Favors, who is 6′4″, 228 pounds, runs a 4.87 40 and committed to the Buffs after making his official visit the weekend of the Texas A&M game.
Favors is considered a just a two-star prospect, the 71st-best tight in the nation in the eyes of Scout.com. Though Favors gave Colorado his commitment in November, he is still considered to be a “soft verbal” by Scout.com, as Favors is still taking official visits to other schools (Favors took an official visit to Syracuse in mid-December, and holds offers from both Syracuse and Cincinnati in the Big East, as well as from a number of MAC schools).
“When I went up there, they showed me love,” Favors told Scout.com after his visit to Boulder. “I like the campus, and they told me that there is a chance for me to play." The Buffs have an “in” with Favors, as he has a classmate from Trotwood, linebacker Doug Rippy, already wearing a Colorado uniform.
One definite and a definite maybe does not a solid tight end class make, so are there any possibilities for other tight end signings in February?
One name to keep an eye on is Harold Mobley out of Corona, California. Mobley is considered a three-star prospect by Rivals , and is listed as the 34th-best “athlete” in the nation. Mobley stands 6′4″, and weighs in at 228 (with a 4.55 40).
Mobley made his official visit to Boulder the weekend of the Missouri game, but took an official visit to Lincoln the following weekend. Nebraska is considered to be Mobley’s top choice at this time, with Colorado and UCLA also in the mix.
Not that it necessarily made a difference, but Colorado was thumped by Missouri, 36-17, the weekend Mobley was in town. The Cornhuskers defeated Kansas State, 17-3, with Mobley looking on.
Another player who is interested in the Buffs, but may have qualification issues, is junior college tight end Anthony Vidal, from Orange Coast California Community College.
Rated a three-star prospect, Vidal has yet to pick up an official offer, lending credence to the notion that schools are wary of his being able to get past the NCAA Clearinghouse.
In the “dare to dream” category, there is Rivals No. 3 and Scouts No. 7 tight end prospect in the nation, Christian Thomas, from Palmdale, California.
Thomas, a four-star recruit, has offers from at least seven Pac-10 schools, along with Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Florida State. Colorado has also offered, but Thomas does not have an official visit planned. Having already visited Oregon, Thomas has January weekends at Miami, Oregon State, and USC booked.
So, are the Buffs going to go with only three or four scholarship tight ends on the roster in 2010, including three freshmen (one red-shirt, two true)? As the class of 2010 looks now, that may just be the case.
Spread offense, anyone?