Colorado’s Scott Fernandez.
Colorado's Scott Fernandez. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

Senior tight end Scott Fernandez has two nicknames, which is one more than the number of catches he has during his Colorado career.

But, if the hard work he's put in and the praise he's receiving are any indication, Fernandez has a great opportunity to change that this season.

CU head coach Mike MacIntyre has listed Fernandez, a former walk-on from Legacy High School, as the Buffs' starting tight end going into Sunday's season opener against Colorado State. The Buffs and Rams will kick off at 4 p.m. at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.

"I've been really, really pleased," MacIntyre said. "I would say he's been one of the most pleasant surprises -- if it's a surprise. He's played good here, but he's blocking, he's catching the ball well and he's doing a really good job at tight end."

Always known as Scooter, Fernandez has earned another nickname from MacIntyre.

"I've nicknamed him Wolverine, because he looks like the Wolverine," MacIntyre said of the Marvel Comics character. "I'm just waiting for those claws to pop out."

Fernandez may not have claws, but his hands are improving, and he's excited about the possibilities ahead.

"Coming from walking on to this and changing positions, it's fun," he said of being a starter. "It takes a lot of hard work, but it's definitely been worth it."

Recruited out of high school as a defensive lineman, Fernandez was invited by former head coach Dan Hawkins to walk on to the team. During his first camp at CU in 2009 Fernandez shifted to the offensive line.


A year later, he was moved to fullback, and then to tight end. Prior to last season, former head coach Jon Embree placed Fernandez on scholarship for the year. MacIntyre did the same this year.

Although he has just one career catch -- a 71-yard touchdown at Arizona last season -- Fernandez said he's prepared to be a bigger part of the offense this year.

"The first go-round, first coaches, it was a little uncomfortable playing tight end and I never really caught a ball," said Fernandez, who is expected to graduate in December with a sociology degree. "Now at this point I'm pretty comfortable with it and I like it."

Fernandez is part of an unheralded group of tight ends. Junior Kyle Slavin, who is recovering from breaking a bone in his hand two weeks ago, and senior Alex Wood are also solid there. Redshirt freshman Sean Irwin is developing into a weapon, too.

"We'll all play and make big contributions," Fernandez said. "Everyone is going to get a lot of playing time."

Wood is more of a utility back, who will line up at fullback and tight end, but MacIntyre said the Buffs have three "end line" tight ends that are ready to play -- Fernandez, Slavin and Irwin.

"Before Slavin got hurt, I thought they were doing really well," MacIntyre said of his tight ends. "The positive side of Slavin getting hurt a little bit is that Irwin got to do a lot more and he really accelerated and he can really run."

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