Pac-12: Ryan Deehan

Year one was rough for Jon Embree and Colorado. Year two might be worse.

The Buffaloes learned that wide receiver Paul Richardson would be lost for the year with a torn knee ligament -- an injury that occurred during a non-contact special teams drill.

[+] EnlargeJon Embree
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireJon Embree's Buffaloes will need receivers to step up in 2012 in the wake of news that starting wideout Paul Richardson has a torn knee ligament.
Richardson is hands-down Colorado's best offensive weapon. And he will be again if/when he returns for the 2013 season as expected. He has a redshirt year to burn, which helps, but it doesn't change the fact the Buffaloes will be scrambling for playmakers this season.

“I told him that when I played, a torn ACL was doomsday for a skill position player,” Embree said in statement. “Now, he’ll be able to come back stronger and faster. He’s obviously disappointed, but he is in great spirits about what happened and will make the most of his redshirt year available to him.”

Last year's leading receiver, running back Rodney Stewart, is gone. The leading receiver who actually played receiver, Toney Clemons is gone. Richardson was third, he's gone. Tight end Ryan Deehan, gone. Wide receiver Logan Gray, gone.

Starting to get the picture? And hanging over all of this is, of course, a question mark at quarterback. Texas transfer Connor Wood is getting all of the work with the first team, though that will change when Nick Hirschman returns from a broken foot in the fall.

So with Richardson out who are these guys going to be throwing to?

Keenan Canty probably has the most speed of anyone in the group. He caught 14 balls for 161 yards last season. Tyler McCulloch has pretty good size at 6-5, 210, but he's not as fast as Canty. McCulloch had 10 catches for 96 yards and a score last season. Nelson Spruce is coming off a redshirt year and there are a handful of walk-ons that could get into the mix.

Maybe that anonymity is a good thing and someone could emerge from that pack as a viable receiving option. But Richardson has the type of speed that defenses have to game-plan for. He could be counted on to draw extra attention which would have opened up more for the rest of the receivers.

Last year he set a school record with 284 receiving yards in Colorado's overtime loss to Cal. In that game he caught 11 balls -- matching a school record. In two years, he's climbed to 21st on Colorado's all-time list of receiving yards (1,069), 25th in receptions (73) and tied for ninth in touchdown receptions (9).

His loss is a significant one, and yet another challenge Embree must face in year two.

Preseason position reviews: tight end

June, 27, 2011
Tight end looks like a solid position heading into 2011, which wasn't the case in 2010.

So where does everyone stand? Let's check it out.

Great shape

Stanford: An embarrassment of riches at the position, even though 2010 official starter Konrad Reuland is gone. Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Levin Toilolo all have NFL futures. Ertz was dominant in the spring game. Fleener, second-team All-Pac-10, caught three touchdown passes in the Orange Bowl. Toilolo won the starting job in 2010 before he got hurt in the opener (after catching a 27-yard pass, no less). Fleener and Ertz combined for 44 receptions and 12 touchdowns in 2010. All three are athletic and taller than 6-foot-6. No team in the nation is stronger at tight end.

Oregon: David Paulson was first-team All-Pac-12 after catching 24 passes for 418 yards with four ouchdowns in 2010. He's also a good blocker. Backup Brandon Williams is an impressive specimen who figures to contribute more this fall -- unless touted true freshman Colt Lyerla eclipses him.

USC: The underrated Rhett Ellison caught 21 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns in 2010, and Xavier Grimble, Randall Telfer and Christian Thomas provide quality depth. Ellison is versatile enough to double as a fullback, when necessary. Grimble, a redshirt freshman, led the Trojans with eight receptions for 73 yards the spring game.

Good shape

Colorado: Ryan Deehan, honorable mention All-Big 12, caught 25 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown in 2010. Backup DaVaughn Thornton has potential.

The position figures to get more work with new coach Jon Embree, a former Buffaloes and NFL tight end.

UCLA: Cory Harkey and Joseph Fauria are both solid veteran players, though Harkey suffered an outbreak of the dropsies last fall. They combined for 17 receptions -- 14 from Harkey -- in 2010.

California: Both Anthony Miller and Spencer Ladner are back, and Miller had 13 of their combined 16 receptions in 2010. Both are solid but unspectacular players.

Oregon State: While Joe Halahuni is officially an H-back, we count him as a tight end.

He caught 30 passes for 390 yards in 2010 and led Beavers receivers with six ouchdowns. If he wasn't coming back from shoulder surgery -- he could miss the first month of the season -- the Beavers would be in great shape. Junior Colby Prince is the "official" tight end. He caught one pass last season.

Utah: Kendrick Moeai, a three-year starter, caught 11 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown in 2010. Yes, that's an average of 20.5 yards per reception. He might get more looks in Norm Chow's pro-style offense. Backup Westlee Tonga hasn't caught a pass.

We'll see

Washington: On the one hand, the Huskies have no experience at the position. On the other, true freshman Austin Seferian-Jenkins and redshirt freshman Michael Hartvigson looked like a potentially outstanding duo this spring. Still, you've got to prove it.

Arizona: Since Rob Gronkowski departed, tight end hasn't been a go-to position for the Wildcats. Jack Baucus, atop the post-spring depth chart, caught four passes last season as a backup. Departed 2010 starter A.J. Simmons caught eight.

Arizona State: Not a big position for the Sun Devils, either. Trevor Kohl caught two passes in 2010. Center Garth Gerhart is credited with one reception. The ASU offense uses a "Y" receiver, who sometimes operates as tight end, which would be 235-pound Christopher Coyle.

Washington State: 2010 starter Skylar Stormo is now a defensive end. Junior Andrei Lintz sat atop the post-spring depth chart, and he caught one pass for four yards last fall. Promising freshman Aaron Dunn is the backup.

Pac-12 NFL prospects in 2012?

May, 2, 2011
The 2011 NFL draft is over, which means it's time to look at who the Pac-12's top senior prospects in 2012 likely will be.

First of all, plenty of top non-seniors from the conference might -- or are likely to -- enter the draft, including Stanford QB Andrew Luck, Oregon RB LaMichael James, Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict and USC QB Matt Barkley. Those four range from sure to likely first-round draft picks.

But this list includes only players in their final year of eligibility. And some might rate a bit of a reach as NFL prospects.

Arizona: QB Nick Foles, WR Juron Criner, CB Trevin Wade

Arizona State: CB Omar Bolden, DE James Brooks, C Garth Gerhart

California: S Sean Cattouse, TE Anthony Miller, LB Mychal Kendricks, LB D.J. Holt, OT Mitchell Schwartz, P Bryan Anger

Colorado: OG Ryan Miller, RB Rodney Stewart, DT Conrad Obi, TE Ryan Deehan

Oregon: TE David Paulson, SS Eddie Pleasant, OT Mark Asper, LB Josh Kaddu

Oregon State: S Lance Mitchell, WR James Rodgers, FB-TE Joe Halahuni

Stanford: WR Chris Owusu, TE Coby Fleenor, S Delano Howell

UCLA: S Tony Dye, FB Derrick Coleman, TE Cory Harkey

USC: LB Chris Galippo, DE Armond Armstead, TE Rhett Ellison, RB Marc Tyler

Utah: OT Tony Bergstrom, LB Chaz Walker, OT John Cullen

Washington: DT Alameda Ta'amu, WR Jermaine Kearse, OT Senio Kelemete, K Erik Folk

Washington State: DT Brandon Rankin, OG B.J. Guerra, WR Jared Karstetter