Ever since Shay Fields gave his verbal commitment to play football at Colorado, fans have been eager to see his talent on the field.
It didn't take long, as Fields, a true freshman receiver from Bellflower, California, was in the starting lineup in the Buffaloes' season-opening 31-17 loss to Colorado State on Friday in Denver.
Fields then rewarded the coaches' faith in him by catching eight passes for 46 yards. No true freshman in CU history has had more receiving yards in a debut game and very few have had more catches.
"He's been showing ability all through camp," said fellow receiver Nelson Spruce, a junior captain. "I don't even think he showed what he's fully capable of (in the CSU game). I think as the season progresses he's going to expand his role and we're going to see a lot out of him."
Even in defeat, Fields couldn't hide his excitement for how he played. Yes, he would have rather it came in a win, but to know he made an impact right away was fun for a young man who turned 18 in June.
"It feels good to be a true freshman and handle business like I did," he said. "I'm just trying to be as good of a teammates as I can to (quarterback Sefo Liufau), actually."
Although Fields has been on campus only a couple of months, he has put in a lot of work to make sure he and Liufau are on the same page.
"During practice we tried to click as much as we could," Fields said. "After practice, he kind of takes me into the locker room and talks with me and goes over plays with me."
Liufau is just a year older than Fields, but recognized right away that Fields could be a great asset to him and the Buffs. It made the sophomore quarterback feel good to see Fields come through Friday.
"He's going to have a good career here as long as he keeps his head on straight and keeps working hard," Liufau said. "I've been impressed with him this year. He doesn't act like a freshman, and that's what we need out of him and the rest of (the freshmen)."
In high school, Fields made huge plays on a routine bases. He caught 82 passes for 1,617 yards (a 19.7-yard average) and 18 touchdowns as a senior at St. John Bosco.
Against the Rams, Fields didn't show that big-play ability. He averaged just 5.8 yards per catch, with a long of 16 yards. But, he was a favorite target of Liufau's on short routes, and he turned three of his catches into first downs. Fields caught eight of the nine passes thrown his way.
Fields said he's not concerned with the type of routes he's asked to run. He plans to catch the ball when it's thrown at him, whether it's for short yards or a big play downfield.
While the Buffs lost the opener and stalled on offense most of the second half, Fields believes that with he and Spruce (seven catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns vs. CSU) leading the way, the Buffs can have a potent passing attack.
"We have so many receivers, especially when we switch it up (and bring reserves in)," Fields said. "We have so many weapons; we just have to utilize them to the best of our ability."
On Friday, Fields showed that he just might be one of the best weapons the Buffs possess.
"I felt I was going to do good when my number was called, and tried to make the most of it," he said.
Next up for the Buffs: Massachusetts Minutemen
Record: 0-1 (1-11 in 2013)
Series: This is the first meeting between CU and UMass.
Coach: Mark Whipple, 1st year (49-26 at UMass from 1998-2003; 121-59 career)
Offense: During the past two years, under a previous coach, the Minutemen averaged just 12.2 points per game and less than 285 yards of offense. They had 202 yards in a 30-7 loss to Boston College on Saturday, 77 of those on their only touchdown.
Defense: UMass has struggled on defense the past two years, but especially against the run. Opponents averaged 224 yards on the ground against the Minutemen in 2012 and 216 last year. Boston College had 338 yards on 61 rushing attempts on Saturday.
Names to know: QB Blake Frohnapfel, Jr., 6-foot-6, 225 (Marshall transfer was 9-for-22, 147 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT on Saturday); RB Jamal Wilson, Jr., 5-10, 200 (team-best 368 yards in 2013; 23 yards on 6 carries Saturday); RB J.T. Blyden, Fr., 6-1, 196 (43 yards on 9 carries Saturday); S/KR Trey Dudley-Giles, Jr., 5-11, 185 (Avg. 22.3 yards on KOR and 12.2 on PR in 2013); LB Stanley Andre, Sr., 6-2, 240 (team-high 111 tackles, including 5.5 TFL, in 2013).
Notable: UMass is coming off of back-to-back 1-11 seasons. ... The Minutemen have been held below 20 points in 20 of its last 25 games. ... In its last seven games against Power 5 teams, UMass is 0-7 while being outscored 293-47. In six of those games, the Minutemen were held to seven points or less; they had 13 in the other. ... UMass has been playing its home games at Gillette Stadium - home of the NFL's New England Patriots - since the start of the 2012 season because its campus field, McGuirk Stadium, was going through an upgrade project to get it up to FBS standards. UMass will split its home games between the two sites this year.