At practice, it's not uncommon for football players to show off skills they simply never will use in a real game.
Linemen want to pretend they are punters. Skill position players want to take shots at field goals. And at some point just about everyone picks up a football and hurls it as far as possible with delusions of grandeur about dropping touchdown bombs in live action.
Bryce Bobo was no different than his fellow Colorado Buffaloes in that regard when he started chucking a football around just for fun a few years ago. Yet when his 60-yard spirals caught the eye of CU's offensive director of quality control, Daniel Daprato, a new threat from the Buffs' offense was born.
Coming off an individual performance for the ages, including the second touchdown pass of his career, CU's senior wide receiver is emerging as the go-to target for quarterback Steven Montez in a passing attack that generally has fallen short of its preseason high-flying expectations.
"Just playing in youth leagues and stuff like that I used to play quarterback, and when I got to high school I switched my position to just straight wide receiver," Bobo said. "But I always knew I could throw the ball.
"When I got here, I'd just like play around jokingly, just throw the ball 60 yards just playing around with the other receivers and quarterbacks. Coach Daprato saw me launch the ball one day across the field and said I had a big arm. Jokingly I said, 'Tell them to put me at quarterback, or tell them to give me a pass or something.' And he was just like, 'All right.' The next week we played USC and he said, 'We've got a pass in for you.' We practiced it and it worked."
That first career pass occurred last year, with Bobo finding running back Phillip Lindsay for a 67-yard score. His touchdown on a throwback pass to Montez last week at Oregon State left Bobo with a career passing mark of 2-for-2 with 78 yards and two touchdowns.
Of course, throwing the ball isn't at the top of the list of Bobo's duties, and lately he has been the focal point of CU's passing game. While Jay MacIntyre and Devin Ross were shut out last week at OSU (with Ross going the past two games without a catch), Bobo has excelled. He made nine catches for a career-high 126 yards against the Beavers with a pair of critical fourth-quarter touchdowns. Not included in those numbers was a clutch reception on a two-point conversion where he held on to the ball despite being drilled at the back of the end zone.
The rapport that seemingly has emerged with Montez is no accident, according to co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini.
"You definitely see it in practice and now you see it in the games," Chiaverini said. "There's a trust factor I think when Steven throws the ball to Bryce. He trusts his throws to Bryce, and Bryce has excellent ball skills, gets open, and makes plays. I had that when I was here with (Koy) Detmer, I had it with (Mike) Moschetti. There's a trust factor between a quarterback and receiver, and they've developed that trust in practice."
Bobo's recent surge has vaulted him further up CU's all-time receptions list, as he now ranks 10th with 128. He also ranks 14th with 1,377 receiving yards.