Troy Walters might be under the most pressure of any Colorado assistant coach when the football season begins in September because he has easily the best player on the roster in his position group.

Then again, Walters could fall well down the list of coaches feeling the heat to produce results because he has the best player on the roster in his position group.

Walters joined coach Mike MacIntyre's staff in January as wide receivers coach after previously coaching at North Carolina State (2012) and Texas A&M (2010-11). Prior to that he was catching passes in the NFL from former Indianapolis Colts and current Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

Colorado receiver Paul Richardson hugs position coach Troy Walters during spring ball in March.
Colorado receiver Paul Richardson hugs position coach Troy Walters during spring ball in March. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

Coming to Colorado was an opportunity for Walters to return to the Pac-12 where he played for Stanford in the late 1990s culminating with a stellar senior season in 1999 when he won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation's best receiver.

Walters said he was drawn to Boulder by MacIntyre's vision for the future and the chance to help rebuild a program he used to love to watch when he was growing up. Walters remembers Colorado's glory years in the 1990s when the Buffs were routinely in the top 25 and playing nationally relevant games against Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and others.

He wants to restore that winning tradition.


Advertisement

After spending five weeks and 15 practices getting to know his players earlier this spring, Walters believes he will be coaching a special talent in Paul Richardson who has the potential to follow in his footsteps and win the same award.

"The sky is the limit," Walters said when asked what is possible for Richardson in 2013. "I mean he can be the best in the country. He can win the Biletnikoff Award and definitely can be a consensus All-American.

"He has all the tools and abilities to be the best out there. I mean, he can run. He's got another gear that I haven't seen in college football. He's got great hands and he's hungry. So you add all those things together. He's coachable. I expect big things out of him this year."

Richardson returned this spring from a knee injury he suffered in spring 2012. It kept him out all of last season and he was badly missed. Without the deep threat he brought to the offense in 2011, the Buffs struggled to move the ball against defenses that stacked the line of scrimmage to stop the run and often played press coverage on CU's healthy receivers.

Starters Tyler McCulloch and Nelson Spruce played their hearts out last season but they lacked the speed and big-play ability of Richardson. Spruce and McCulloch combined to make 78 catches for 882 yards and five touchdowns. Neither caught a pass for more than 40 yards, a stat that demonstrates the lack of explosiveness from the Buffs last season.

But Walters gave both players high marks for their performance in spring and says he expects both to continue to make their mark going forward.

"They've been consistent," Walters said. "You know what you're going to get day in and day out. They work and they make very few mental mistakes. They both have things they need to work on this summer and they're the type of kids who are going to go to work this summer. I expect them to come back and play a major role in this offense."

Walters said coaches only installed the basic concepts of the offense in the spring and there will be wrinkles and additions for players to master in the fall. He said he believes the players he coached in spring combined with three freshmen who will be added to the roster in August give the team a solid and versatile receiving corps.

"I think our group did well," he said. "I think the guys came out and competed. Every practice I think they came out and worked hard and left it all on the field. I feel for the most part, we got better as a unit and I'm looking forward to getting with them this fall."

The surprise of spring at CU was probably D.D. Goodson who made a smooth transition from running back to wide receiver and left the impression he could be play maker in the fall. Freshman Jeff Thomas also made an impression after grayshirting in 2012.

Those two additions alone when combined with Richardson's return will give the Buffs significantly more firepower than they had last season. If sophomore Gerald Thomas is able to conquer the personal issues that kept him out most of spring and any of the three freshmen wideouts prove they are ready, wide receiver could go from a weak spot to a team strength in one offseason.

"We're going to put the best players on the field," Walters said when asked if he believes any of the 2013 recruits will play as true freshmen. "So if they come and they pick up this offense and they prove they're one of the best players and we need to find a position for them, then they're going to play. I think they're going to have stiff competition from the guys we have, but they will have every opportunity."

Follow Kyle on Twitter: @KyleRingo.