In case it hasn't been clear, the Colorado football team has a pretty good set of receivers.

For confirmation, just ask the Buffs.

"Without a doubt the best receiving corps in college football," quarterback Steven Montez said.

"I know we are," senior receiver Devin Ross said. "I know for a fact. I can see it even more in this camp."

Several national publications have ranked the Buffs among the top five receiving groups in the country, and they like the attention.

"We definitely enjoy it," Ross said. "We talk about it every day and we brag about it sometimes to (running back Phillip Lindsay) and the running backs, just to talk trash and motivate them even more. We aim for that No. 1 spot now. We're just going to do whatever it takes, listen to our coaching and make plays this season."

So, what exactly is behind all the hype?

1. There's talent and lots of it

All four starters from last year are back. Seniors Bryce Bobo, Shay Fields and Ross combined for 159 catches, 2,133 yards and 16 touchdowns. Junior Jay MacIntyre added 30 catches for 390 yards and a touchdown.

In addition, senior Kabion Ento has had a sensational offseason, junior Juwann Winfree is back from a knee injury that took him out of last season, and junior Lee Walker and sophomore Johnny Huntley III are back, as well. On top of that, the Buffs have two true freshmen — KD Nixon and Laviska Shenault — who were four-star recruits.


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"I've never been around a receiving group that's been this deep," Montez said. "It gives me a ton of guys that are talented and can make plays and throw the ball to."

2. They are versatile

The group is made up of players who can both line up outside or in the slot. They can catch underneath passes or beat defenders deep. And, they can block.

"I think they can do a little bit of everything," head coach Mike MacIntyre said.

Colorado receiver Jay MacIntyre hauls in a pass against Utah on Nov. 26.
Colorado receiver Jay MacIntyre hauls in a pass against Utah on Nov. 26. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

The versatility of the group has made life tough at times on CU's defensive backs in practice.

"All the guys are very dynamic," CU secondary coach ShaDon Brown said. "It's really good to have guys with different skill sets, especially at receiver because you can do different things with them. I'm blessed that I get to work against those guys."

Brown said he sees a hunger in every receiver and "they can all make plays," but it may be their blocking that sets them apart.

"We do drills every day with (co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini) on blocking, just to make sure we know our assignments," Ross said. "We focus on that just as much as we focus on running routes and catching the ball."

The group has worked this offseason to become even more dynamic. Fields said they have emphasized improving against man coverage, as well as improvising to help the quarterback when he's flushed from the pocket.

"We didn't really practice that too much last year, but we've emphasized and practiced that more," Fields said. "That's just more opportunities for us to make plays."

3. They aren't selfish

Of course, the receivers would all love to put up big numbers individually. They also realize that with the amount of talent at the position, the ball is likely to be spread around to several receivers, resulting in more modest numbers across the board.

"As long as we win," Fields said. "If you go in for me, you're going to make plays. If you go in for Bryce, you're going to make plays. That's just the kind of receiving corps we have. We have a lot of depth."

There are about a handful of receivers in this group that could be the No. 1 target on a lot of teams. That makes life easier on the quarterback, which won't need to rely on one player to get the job done.

"That's the great thing about the receivers: on any given play any one of them can make plays," Montez said. "If you're the open man and that's my progression, I'll throw it to you. It doesn't matter what your name is."

Receivers are commonly viewed as being "divas," demanding the ball and being high maintenance teammates. According to this group, there are no divas.

"We just all jell with each other," Fields said.

The talent, versatility and team-first attitude of this group makes it one that's gaining national attention. Now, they are aiming to prove they deserve it.

"That's hard work and dedication we've all put in," Fields said of the preseason hype. "That just goes out as a testament to what we can and what we have accomplished so far, but we're not done.

"We need to be the best in the nation."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.