Big 12: Kyle Cefalo
2009 conference record: 2-6
Returning starters: Offense (8), Defense (7) P/K (1)
Top returners: QB Tyler Hansen, WR Scotty McKnight, RB Rodney Stewart, OT Nate Solder, DB Anthony Perkins, WR Markques Simas, DB Jalil Brown
Key losses: TE Riar Geer, RB Darrell Scott (transfer), DB Cha’pelle Brown, LB Jeff Smart, DB Benjamin Burney, LB Marcus Burton
2009 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Rodney Stewart* (804 yards)
Passing: Tyler Hansen* (1,440)
Receiving: Scotty McKnight* (893 yards)
Tackles: Anthony Perkins*, Jeff Smart (77)
Sacks: Marquez Herrod* (6.5)
Interceptions: Benjamin Burney (2)
Three spring answers
1. Get to know Toney Clemons. The Michigan transfer made a big splash this spring, impressing his team enough to be the top pick in the draft when the Buffaloes split for the spring game. Clemons has size and speed, but 2010 will be about turning that into on-field production.
2. Stars staying strong. Colorado’s two most consistent players a year ago, offensive tackle Nate Solder and running back Rodney Stewart, both had good springs. Stewart was protected from contact often with dwindling numbers at running back, but Solder caught a touchdown pass in the spring game after being drafted with the No. 2 pick before the game.
3. Hawkins’ future not a distraction. Dan Hawkins will sit on maybe the hottest seat in the Big 12 this season, but he didn’t address it much during the spring as his team went about its business.
Three fall questions
1. Who’s the quarterback? After taking over for Cody Hawkins last season and finishing the year as the starter, most figured the job was all but Tyler Hansen’s entering spring. But Hawkins insists there’s a competition and that Hawkins and Hansen remain thinly separated. Colorado fans won’t be happy initially if Hawkins starts, but if he produces and the Buffs win a few games, few will be complaining. Some think the team would be better suited by naming a starter now and allowing him to embrace a leadership role over the summer. Hawkins wants competition.
2. Who’s catching the ball? Clemons will be a factor, but Colorado could end up having one of the conference’s most underrated corps of receivers in Clemons, along with last year’s leading receiver Scotty McKnight and Markques Simas. Kyle Cefalo could also be a player that emerges this fall after catching 12 balls for 144 yards in the spring game.
3. Can the Buffaloes defense improve? Colorado had the second-worst defense in the Big 12 last season, and with an underwhelming offense, it’s no surprise they won only three games. Defensive back Cha’Pelle Brown was the only Colorado player to make the All-Big 12 top two teams, and he graduated. Outside of Anthony Perkins, Colorado is replacing its top four tacklers and needs playmakers to emerge to improve on its 2009 season.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Only one scholarship wide receiver has been participating in practices for Colorado as the Buffaloes prepare for Saturday's spring game.
Leading returning receiver Scotty McKnight sustained a partially torn triceps muscle 12 days ago and won't participate in practice for the rest of the spring as a precaution. And Josh Smith has been hobbling on a sprained ankle, leaving untested sophomore Markques Simas as the lone scholarship receiver on the roster.
It means that the Colorado fans who attend Saturday's spring game at Folsom Field are advised to pick up a roster sheet. That might be the only way they recognize some of the names on the roster who will appear, such as walk-ons like Jason Espinoza, Ryan Maxwell, Dustin Ebner and Kyle Cefalo.
Cefalo had a unique story before arriving at Colorado. He is no relation to former Penn State and Miami Dolphins wide receiver and current Dolphins play-by-play broadcaster Jimmy Cefalo, but has earned that nickname from his new Buffaloes teammates.
He arrived at Colorado mainly because he was quarterback Cody Hawkins' best friend when they were attending high school back in Boise, Idaho.
McKnight told the Boulder Camera that getting his injury treated might actually benefit the Buffaloes because other receivers will have to emerge during the spring.
"I think that's important," said McKnight, who produced 89 reception for 1,007 yards in the past two seasons. "It seems like just yesterday we were all coming in here thinking we were young, but me and Josh are going to be juniors next year and Markques is going to be a sophomore. It's pretty important to establish some leadership at your position and I think this has allowed that."
Three scholarship receivers will arrive in the Colorado program this summer with the incoming recruiting class.
And something tells me that the opportunity for eventual playing time was a prime point of discussion when former Michigan wide receiver Toney Clemons visited the Buffaloes last week to inquire about transferring into the program.