Rocky Mountain Showdown
What: CU vs. CSU
When: 6 p.m., Sept. 2
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver
TV/radio: ESPN, 850 AM
With Juwann Winfree now sidelined for the season with a knee injury, opportunity is knocking for a lot of Colorado's receivers.
Junior Kabion Ento is hoping he can seize the moment.
"I have to," he said. "With a guy like that going down, the balls have to go somewhere. I'll just try to step up and do my part and get some of those."
Projected as a starter since he signed a letter of intent in February, Winfree, a junior transfer from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, will now redshirt and spend his first season in Boulder rehabilitating his knee injury.
"It always hurts me to see a player get hurt, whether on my team or another team," Ento said. "I was very excited to see him coming in. I was really excited. When he was out here, the competition level was great.
"As a group, we all said we need to step up and try to do his part."
Like Winfree, Ento is a transfer, coming to CU from East Central (Miss.) Community College. He caught 38 passes for 607 yards and eight touchdowns last year, earning first-team South All-State honors.
To excel at CU and in the Pac-12, however, Ento knows he has to elevate his game.
"The coaches usually say it's day to day," Ento said. "I'm usually doing OK or usually doing good. I just need to stay consistent. They say I have flashes here and there and I just need to stay consistent with that. The more I do that, the better off I'll be."
Over the summer, receivers coach/co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said he loves Ento's athleticism, but that Ento needed to learn how to run routes at a Pac-12 level.
That's something Ento is working on every day, he said, and that includes watching players like Winfree and junior Shay Fields.
"Sometimes you just have to sit and watch how other guys run routes," Ento said. "Like Shay, watching him do his releases, and (Bryce) Bobo, watch how he uses his body. You have to not only learn doing drills, but you also have to learn how to watch and try to mimic what they do because they are great route runners."
The Buffs are hoping Ento becomes a great route runner, too, so he can get in the mix with an exceptional group of receivers, led by Fields, Bobo and Devin Ross.
"I've been really pleased with their progress," Chiaverini said of the group. "Shay has really turned the corner. He's been a little bit inconsistent at times, but he's got the ability to be a top-notch Pac-12 receiver. He's taken the next step. I think Devin Ross has taken the next step and Jay (MacIntyre) continues to get better.
"We have a good group of guys that are making plays. Kabion Ento is another guy. ... It's a good group."
Bobo has stood out in camp, especially over the past week since Winfree went down. The Buffs also like freshmen Tony Julmisse, Johnny Huntley and Derrion Rakestraw. Of that group, Julmisse seems most ready to play at this time, but Chiaverini said Huntley "is making progress."
While the Buffs will miss Winfree, they are eager to see what the rest of the group, including Ento, can do with the opportunity in front of them.
"They're real close and it's like family in that room," Chiaverini said. "Everybody feels for Juwann. We know how hard he's worked, but the whole group has worked hard, and it's on the group to pick him up."
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.