At 5-foot-8, 185 pounds, Colorado's K.D. Nixon looks like the ideal slot receiver.
To label him as just a slot, however, would be to dismiss the overall talent of the sophomore.
"I don't like people titling me just for a slot," Nixon said.
Nixon, in fact, is eyeing a role this season in which he can help the Buffaloes in a variety of ways: from the slot, lining up outside, and even from the backfield, where he will get some rushing attempts.
"I'm excited about K.D.'s ability to catch the ball, his ability to run the ball, and when he has the ball in his hands, he's a difference maker," CU co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. "It's exciting to have guys like that."
Nixon has shown just a small glimpse of his potential to this point. As a true freshman last season, he caught two passes for 17 yards, ran three times for 20 yards and averaged 23.7 yards on 11 kickoff returns.
He is planning on having a much bigger impact next season.
"Just know there's going to be a rude awakening for a lot of people," he said. "Everybody will know my name."
Opposing teams may not know where to find him on the field, though. Because of his versatility, Nixon could be one of the more exciting players on the CU offense next season.
"I'm just thankful for (Chiaverini) giving me the opportunity, because a lot of people don't get this opportunity to play three different positions," Nixon said. "I'm blessed to be doing that."
Of the three positions, Nixon said he would prefer to play as an outside receiver.
"It's way easier," he said. "Being pressed as a speed guy, people can't get their hands on you. You have different advantages to use."
CU has bigger receivers such as Tony Brown (6-foot-1), Kabion Ento (6-3), Laviska Shenault (6-1) and Juwann Winfree (6-3) who seem to be better fits for the outside. However, Nixon and Chiaverini pointed out the one of the best receivers in the NFL, Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, isn't much bigger than Nixon and he lines up on the outside.
"It really comes down to speed and quickness and short area space awareness," Chiaverini said. "(Nixon) is very good at being able to get open, if it's on a curl route or a comeback route. His short-area explosiveness is really impressive.
"He's working hard, he's getting better and he's making plays and he's having a good spring."
Nixon said getting on the field last year helped his progression as a player and also humbled him, as he had to learn to take a backup role. He also credits Winfree for helping him get better.
"Juwann is a true leader, a big brother, and he's taken me in, showing me different ways to get open," Nixon said. "I'm just thankful for him and being able to learn from him."
In all, it's a talented group of receivers, but Nixon said it's a group that isn't afraid to work hard.
"What other people don't see is the work we put out side of football, on an everyday basis," he said. "We want the highest, but you have to take it day to day and get better every day."
The Buffs had their seventh practice of the spring on Friday, and their first of three open practices. There was a lot of position drills in the two-and-a-half hour practice, but also some 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work.
Some of the highlights included an interception by sophomore cornerback Ronnie Blackmon with the second-team defense; touchdown receptions from receivers Maurice Bell, Tony Brown and Laviska Shenault; and some good runs by Alex Fontenot, who showed some nice explosion at running back.
A few other notes from the practice:
• Redshirt freshman cornerback Chris Miller has been mentioned this spring by players and coaches as one who has shown improvement, and he showed that on the field several times, matching up well some of the Buffs top receivers.
• Others who have been praised this spring and looked good at times Friday included: offensive linemen Dillon Middlemiss, Jake Moretti and Brett Tonz; tight end Chris Bounds; outside linebacker Dante Sparaco; and safety Nick Fisher.
• Tight end Darrion Jones, a JUCO transfer this spring, is impressive physically, but appears to have a lot of work to do to learn the offense.
• True freshman nose tackle Jalen Sami looks every bit of his listed size (6-6, 320) and could help the defense immediately.
• Receivers Jay MacIntyre and Kabion Ento were limited, and Brown, a transfer from Texas Tech, took advantage with a nice day.
• Safety Evan Worthington did not participate in the practice, leaving the door open for redshirt freshman Isaiah Lewis to work with the first team defense. The Buffs are already thin at safety, but even more so with Worthington out.
• For much of the practice, the first-team offensive line was: Aaron Haigler at left tackle, Tonz at left guard, Colby Pursell at center, Middlemiss at right guard and Josh Kaiser at right tackle. The second-team offensive line primarily included (left to right) Jack Shutack, Chance Lytle, Heston Paige, William Sherman and Hunter Vaughn. Justin Eggers also rotated in at center.