Big 12: Ryan Wallace

Hawkins will coach Colorado wide receivers in 2009

June, 1, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins made a variety of announcements Monday, most notably that he will be serving as the Buffaloes' wide receivers coach in addition to his head coaching duties.

Hawkins will instruct defensive coaching intern Ashley Ambrose in his transition into becoming a college assistant coach during 2010. Ambrose is a former 13-season NFL veteran who also served as a coaching intern with the Atlanta Falcons in 2006.

"I was educated as a teacher and spent the majority of my professional life in the trenches as a teacher-coach," Hawkins said. "My first year at Boise as head coach, I also coached the tight ends. I am extremely excited about rolling up my sleeves and being a position coach again."

Hawkins becomes the first Colorado head coach to also serve as a position coach since Bill McCartney, who directed the Buffaloes' quarterbacks in 1993. Hawkins technically replaces Eric Kiesau, the former Colorado receivers coach who was promoted to offensive coordinator last month after Mark Helfrich left for a similar position at Oregon. Helfrich also coached the quarterbacks, which Kiesau will now do.

Hawkins also announced he has hired Bob Foster, as Colorado's outside linebackers coach. Foster, 68, has four decades of coaching experience and was the defensive coordinator at Californa-Davis when Hawkins was a player and coach there. He has also served as a defensive consultant for Hawkins when he was head coach at Willamette and later served as an assistant at Oregon and California.

Colorado also announced that former Michigan wide receiver Toney Clemons has enrolled in summer school at Colorado. 

Clemons played two seasons in the Michigan program, including 11 catches for 101 yards last season. He will sit out the 2009 season as a redshirt before becoming eligible next season.

Former Colorado wide receiver Kendrick Celestine has re-enrolled in school and could return to the team. Celestine played in the first two games of the 2008 season and then quit for personal reasons on Sept. 21.

"We take a great deal of pride in mentoring our guys to achieve excellence as a person, student, and athlete," Hawkins said. "Sometimes that comes with some hard lessons to learn. Should Kendrick recognize what he left behind and the opportunities he can have here -- we certainly welcome him back."

Hawkins also announced that seven players won't return this fall to the team for assorted reasons. Two are lettermen, senior guard Devin Head and junior wide receiver/return specialist Josh Smith.

Head, who played in 27 career games with 17 starts, is academically ineligible, with Smith is looking to transfer, likely to a school in California.

Smith told Hawkins he plans to work on furthering both his music (singing and production) and football careers.

Smith set Colorado records for kickoff returns (50) and yards (1,286) last season. He produced 52 receptions for 838 yards (16.1 per reception) and three touchdowns in two seasons.

Redshirt freshman tight end Ryan Wallace has sought his release to transfer closer to his Bowling Green, Ky., home, with sophomore linebacker Lynn Katoa likely to transfer to a junior college. Three walk-ons also won't be back, including junior fullback Matt Burgner, freshman wide receiver Marion Brown and junior offensive lineman Evan Eastburn.

Smith's departure robs Colorado of top deep threat

May, 31, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Josh Smith apparently has decided that the career route to becoming the next Jay-Z or Fifty Cent can be furthered by attending a school other than Colorado.

Smith and tight end Ryan Wallace have announced they are leaving the school. The move snatches away one of Colorado's top receivers and a developing player in Wallace who many thought could turn into a serviceable Big 12 tight end.

Smith announced that he's leaving Colorado because he wants to pursue a musical career after producing rap demos and CDs since high school. Schools that have the music major he's interested in are Arizona State and USC.

Additionally, the Boulder Camera reported that Smith spent time in the Phoenix area with Arizona State quarterback Samson Szakacsy recording tracks. That seemingly would provide a neat entry into the Sun Devils program if Smith should choose to continue playing at his new school.

Smith's departure comes after he dropped on the team's depth chart over the spring. The Buffaloes aren't exactly loaded at the position and Smith was expected to challenge for a starting job this spring.

But he struggled at times as Markques Simas and Dustin Ebner zoomed past him at his "X" wide receiver position and Scotty McKnight and walk-on Jason Espinoza are fixtures on the other side.

The other question will be how this affects the Buffaloes' relationship with heralded running back Darrell Scott, who is Smith's nephew.

Scott had a strong spring after struggling during his freshman season last year. He reportedly tried to talk Smith out of transferring.

And Wallace was listed at fifth-string on the Buffaloes' post-spring depth chart but was thought to have a good future with the program. He becomes the third member of the heralded 2008 recruiting class to leave Colorado, joining linebacker Lynn Katoa and wide receiver Chance Blackmon.

Colorado's biggest offensive weakness is its lack of breakaway threats. Smith is the team's best deep threat and top kickoff returner.

With a heavy ground-based attack, new offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau hopes to build more of a vertical play-action passing game. He already will be making a tough choice between quarterbacks Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen and taking away his best deep threat won't help the offense's productivity.

The Colorado offense ranked last in the Big 12 last season in total offense and scoring. Smith was a critical element in plans for coach Dan Hawkins, who vowed his team would "win 10 games with no excuses" this season after a disappointing 5-7 record last year.

Even with Smith's drop on the depth chart, it's still not a good situation for the Buffaloes or their ability to stretch the field with Smith leaving.