Cody Hawkins' successor is finally ready to shine in the Pac-12.

Tyler Hansen? Sure, the senior quarterback seems poised for a solid 2011 season now that the starting job is unquestionably his.

Hawkins' long-time teammate and friend, Kyle Cefalo, is also ready to contribute to the Colorado football program.

Five years ago, Cefalo quarterbacked Bishop Kelly High School to a state championship game in Idaho. Hawkins had been under center for the program's 2004 and 2005 state titles before heading to CU.

After graduation, Cefalo headed to Oregon State on a baseball scholarship at a time when the Beavers were coming off back-to-back NCAA championships. Before the left-handed pitcher could strike out his first Pac-10 batter, an upper arm injury forced him to quit the sport.

University of Colorado’s Kyle Cefalo on Friday, Aug. 5, during the Buff’s second football practice on the University of Colorado practice field
University of Colorado's Kyle Cefalo on Friday, Aug. 5, during the Buff's second football practice on the University of Colorado practice field in Boulder. Jeremy Papasso/ Camera ( Jeremy Papasso )

"That was a tough situation to go through, especially as a young kid coming out of high school, being 18 years old and all of a sudden you can't throw anymore," Cefalo said. "I was kind of lost for a while, I really was. But I was lucky enough to come here."

Cefalo was watching the Buffs on national television one night -- CU's upset win over West Virginia on Sept. 18, 2008 to be exact -- and decided to call Hawkins. The conversation led to his decision to walk on in Boulder as a wide receiver. He sat out the 2009 season per NCAA transfer rules and caught six passes last season as a reserve.

Since Jon Embree took over the program, Cefalo has played well on the CU practice fields. He caught seven passes for 104 yards in the spring scrimmages and was awarded a scholarship during a productive fall camp.

"I see him playing in certain situations," wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy said. "He has also been a guy that has been a good leader for the young guys. He has helped them learn the offense. He's been a guy that I'm really pleased with."

At the 'X' receiver spot, senior Toney Clemons (6-2, 210) and true freshman Tyler McCulloch (6-5, 205) are the co-starters entering CU's opener on Sept. 3 at Hawaii.

Cefalo, a senior, is the backup to Paul Richardson at the 'Z' position.

"I'm extremely excited. The past few years have been great, but I think this team is really coming together so well with the new coaching staff," Cefalo said. "I feel like I've established a role and I'm excited to relish in it."

Hawkins used to call Cefalo the next Scotty McKinght. He's not going to break any of the current New York Jets rookie's career receiving records at CU, but if Hansen needs someone to make a tough catch over the middle he won't hesitate to find No. 35.

"I've gotten that comparison a lot. Basically, Scotty did whatever the coaches asked of him," Cefalo said. "Going over the middle or whatever it took, Scotty did it. That made him a great player. Whatever I can do in my role, I'm going to take it and run with it."

There are several other players -- freshman Nelson Spruce, Georgia transfer Logan Gray, redshirt freshman Keenan Canty, senior Jason Espinoza -- capable of contributing in the passing game this season. Cefalo's consistency and willingness to block down field earned him a spot in the two-deep against the Warriors.

"With coach Embree, every day you have to show up. You are what you put on film and you have to show up every day knowing what you're doing, working hard, and showing that you can make plays," Cefalo said. "And you have to do that every day. You can't take a day off, you can't take a play off. I think it's a better way of doing it and I like it a lot. It gives everybody an equal chance."

It looks like Cefalo will play in the Pac-12 after all.

"Now going to the Pac-12 is kind of crazy playing against some of those old teams that I started with," Cefalo said. "I'm definitely living a second chance right now and I'm really enjoying it."