Top targets

The projected list of receivers Colorado expects to have on board this fall:

Returners

Shay Fields, Jr., 5-11, 180: One of the most prolific young receivers in CU history, he already has 92 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in his career.

Bryce Bobo, Jr., 6-2, 195: Has had two similar seasons so far, racking up a total of 47 catches for 422 yards and three touchdowns.

Devin Ross, Jr., 5-9, 180: Had issues with drops last year, but proved his playmaking ability. He has 31 catches for 348 yards and two touchdowns in his career.

Jay MacIntyre, So., 5-10, 185: As a freshman, he caught eight passes for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Lee Walker, So., 6-0, 175: Caught two passes for 23 yards last season.

Newcomers

Kabion Ento, Jr., 6-3, 175: In two seasons at East Central Community College, he caught 59 passes for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Johnny Huntley III, Fr., 6-3, 205: True freshman had 55 catches for 940 yards and 12 scores last season at South Plantation (Fla.) High.

Justin Jan, Fr., 6-3, 205: Redshirted last season for the Buffs. He had 48 catches for 918 yards and 16 touchdowns as a high school senior in 2014.

Anthony Julmisse, Fr., 6-1, 190: The true freshman was a dual threat at South Plantation, running for 672 yards and racking up 360 receiving yards last season.


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Derrion Rakestraw, Fr., 6-2, 175: Another true freshman, he caught 42 passes for 659 yards and six touchdowns last season at Sequoyah (Ga.) High.

Juwann Winfree, Jr., 6-3, 205: At Coffeyville CC last year, he had 55 catches for 837 yards and seven scores. In 2014, he caught 11 passes for 158 yards and two scores at Maryland.

Just seven practices into spring football, Shay Fields can already tell a difference with the Colorado offense.

"Coach (Darrin Chiaverini) was talking about how the tempo is going to kill (the defense), especially in Folsom, because of the elevation," Fields said. "We can see that with the defense a little. Once we get the tempo going, they get tired and we get more energetic and we just keep going.

"We've been able to get going. People have been starting to get into the playbook and really understand what their role is on certain plays and what they're supposed to do."

A 5-foot-11, 180-pound junior, Fields certainly knows his role. As the top returning receiver for the Buffaloes, he will be relied on heavily in CU's revamped offense and he's having a good spring.

"He's making plays," said Chiaverini, CU's first-year co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach. "He started a little slow (in spring), but I've seen the last couple of practices, he's really starting to run and get it and understand how you have to play fast all the time.

"He's got really good speed, but he has to play fast all the time and not take plays off. I think he's learning that."

Last season, Fields caught 42 passes for 598 yards and four touchdowns, but was well on his way to a better season before injuring his ankle while catching a 30-yard touchdown late in a 38-31 loss to Arizona. After missing one game, he caught just 10 passes for 94 yards and no touchdowns in the last five games combined.

"I'm pretty sure it bothers anybody," Fields said of being injured. "Just knowing what you could have done if you were 100 percent is kind of stressful, but stuff happens."

Now healthy, Fields has added about five pounds of muscle. After playing last year in the 170-175 pound range, he's up to 180 and would like to get to 185.

"I want myself bigger," he said. "I just need to put on five more pounds and be smart about putting it on."

Fields has plenty of motivation for doing all he can to be at his best, and head coach Mike MacIntyre is seeing a motivated Fields this spring.

"Shay's always motivated," MacIntyre said. "Shay's always confident. He'll rise to the occasion and keep working."

Fields has to keep working because he's sure to be challenged by his fellow receivers.

Junior Devin Ross is having a great spring, while newcomer Kabion Ento, a junior college transfer, is turning heads as well. Junior Bryce Bobo and sophomores Jay MacIntyre and Lee Walker are also back.

This summer, the Buffs will add former Maryland receiver Juwann Winfree - who may be the biggest threat to Fields' top-dog status - and three talented freshmen receivers, Johnny Huntley, Anthony Julmisse and Derrion Rakestraw.

All that talent should make the Buffs — and Fields — better, MacIntyre said.

"You're a good football team when you can look over your left shoulder and that guy can beat you out and you can look over your right shoulder and that guy can beat you out," MacIntyre said. "We're starting to get to that point where we have that much depth and we have guys that have played a lot too that have done that."

Nobody has done more than Fields, who has 92 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns in two seasons. He's hoping his experience will help him rise to the top of the receiver group, but he's also eager to play with such a talented crew.

"I see it as a challenge," he said of CU adding more talent. "I'm just going to take it head on like any other challenge. I'm excited for the challenge to get to push other people and (have them) push me as well, and get me better."

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.