There were a few players who immediately caught coach Dan Hawkins` eye when he first took over the Colorado football program four years ago. Most of them were upperclassmen, but a rough-around-the-edges redshirt freshman tight end was in the group, too.

There wasn`t a single characteristic about Riar Geer that stood out to Hawkins. He just knows a tight end with potential when he sees one.

In four years as tight ends coach at Boise State before becoming the head coach of that program, Hawkins coached two future NFL tight ends, one of which went on to play for the Denver Broncos. His name was Jeb Putzier.

Hawkins believed if all went well, Geer might blossom into a player in the mold of those he had coached before.

The past 3½ seasons haven`t been exactly smooth sailing for Geer. He was the team`s leading receiver in 2006 only to be slowed by knee injuries during the first half of both the 2007 and 2008 seasons. He also endured the ramifications of off-campus fistfight in 2007 that kept him out of spring ball that year.

He rebounded from the experience to be voted a team captain by his teammates this summer.

"Part of the joys of this job are just seeing kids grow up a little bit, and get the big picture and have a light bulb come on," Hawkins said. "He`s one of those guys.

"He obviously went through some things and has really grown from that."

It already has been a career year for Geer and it`s only the midway point of his senior season.

Geer has surpassed his previous best in receptions and receiving yards through the first six games of theyear with 25 catches for 284 yards. He also has tied his single-season best with three touchdown catches.

"It`s kind of weird to say, but I kind of attribute it to my troubled past," Geer said. "The whole fight thing really got me back on the right path, and I started working a lot harder and not taking things for granted."

Geer`s value to the Colorado offense can`t be overstated. He is a crafty route runner and reliable pass catcher, whom quarterback Tyler Hansen mentioned as one of the players he feels most comfortable with in the passing game. He is capable of lining up as a wide receiver, a traditional tight end and as a fullback. He also has become one of the best blockers on the team.

"He has really blossomed into that guy and that player that we all saw when we first got here," Hawkins said.

Fellow tight end Patrick Devenny had plenty in common with Geer when they joined the program together in 2005. Both were high school quarterbacks, and while Devenny came to CU initially to throw passes, he ended up trying to catch them after converting to tight end.

Devenny said he leaned heavily on Geer for advice and criticism from the beginning, and he continues to do so even now in their final year together.

"He`s taught me a lot of stuff," Devenny said. "I mean, pretty much everything I know along with (tight ends coach Kent Riddle).

"...When it came down to it, any question I ever had, it was Riar."

Geer hoped for the best when he came to CU from Grand Junction, but he never imagined he would leave CU as one of the most successful tight ends in the program`s history.

Geer needs four catches to tie former CU tight ends Joe Klopfenstein and Jon Embree with 80 career catches. If he is able to catch the same number of passes in the second half of the season that he did in the first half (25), he will become only the second CU tight end in history with more than 100 career catches. Daniel Graham finished his career with 106 receptions.

Geer is also working his way up to receiving yards charts at CU. He is 144 yards shy of becoming the 22nd player in CU history to have at least 1,000 career receiving yards. Only four tight ends -- Graham, Embree, Christian Fauria and Dave Hestera -- have accomplished that feat in Boulder.

"I try not to pay attention to all that stuff," Geer said. "If at the end of the season, all of that comes true, then it`s going to be a great honor and I`ll take it then. Right now I just concentrate on the season and concentrate on Kansas State and trying to make my team better."