Just a couple of weeks ago, Bryce Bobo wasn't sure he'd get much of an opportunity for playing time at receiver.

So, the Colorado junior asked coaches if he could practice at safety. It was a short-lived experiment.

"It only lasted a day," he said.

Back in his usual spot, Bobo has had a sensational camp, and his emergence couldn't be more important. With Friday's announcement that junior Juwann Winfree, projected as a starter, will miss the season with a torn ACL in his knee, Bobo's got an excellent opportunity to fill a starring role.

"Bryce has had an excellent camp and he's really come on since he's been healthy and making big plays," CU receivers coach/co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. "He's made some excellent catches this camp that top-notch receivers make."

Losing Winfree, who transferred to CU this summer from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, is disappointing for all of the Buffs, but depth at the position makes the loss easier to take. With juniors Shay Fields, Devin Ross and Bobo leading the way, head coach Mike MacIntyre said he's confident the Buffs have the playmakers to get the job done at receiver.

"We have a lot of really good receivers," MacIntyre said. "He was really good, too, but that's a place I think we're really deep at."

MacIntyre said Winfree has been down about the injury this week, but that he and his family have had a good attitude as they look to his future.


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"The silver lining in it, he has a redshirt year and still has two more years after that," MacIntyre said. "But, he was having a really good fall camp and he was going to help us a lot."

Now, Bobo has a chance to be a starter and a top receiver.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound junior has caught 47 passes for 422 yards and three touchdowns during his career, but hasn't been a consistent weapon for CU. He has yet to miss a game, but has missed more than his fair share of practices over the years with nagging injuries.

Being healthy has been critical for Bobo during camp this month, and MacIntyre believes that adding strength in the offseason has helped Bobo avoid injuries. The real difference, however, has been the relationship Bobo has built with Chiaverini, who is in his first year with the Buffs.

"Me and (former receivers coach Troy) Walters, we had a good relationship, but Chev actually would sit me down and he got to me," Bobo said. "I feel like that alone just set off something in my mind to like, 'OK, I have to develop a work ethic, I have to have discipline and I have to give more effort when I'm on the field.'

"When people sit down with me and talk to me, one on one as a man, it comes across to me easier."

Perhaps the fieriest of all the CU coaches, Chiaverini said he learned quickly that he needed a different approach with Bobo.

"I'm a passionate guy and I wear my heart on my sleeve , so I coach with that kind of passion," Chiaverini said, "but sometimes with Bobo, I have to step back and talk to him and say, 'Hey look, this is what I need from you.' He's responded to that kind of teaching."

On Aug. 5, the day Bobo practiced on defense, the two of them had another long discussion.

"At the beginning of camp, I wasn't getting too many plays (on offense)," Bobo said. "I wasn't being able to show what I could do. I thought that me maybe going on defense would at least let me make plays on both sides of the ball.

"That's when me and coach Chev had a talk. We had a long talk about everything and that's when I went back to receiver."

Since then, Bobo has been more focused, more detail-oriented with his technique, and more productive. With Winfree out for the season, the Buffs now need Bobo to be that good, if not better, on game days.

"I'm really excited," he said. "I can't wait to go against a different team to see how I measure up."

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