Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Colorado receiver Jay MacIntyre hopes to become a bigger part of the Buffs offense this season.

It was the comfortable decision, if one that also came with its share of potential hurdles.

When Jay MacIntyre was beginning his senior year at Monarch High School three years ago, it was more than a little tempting to forge his own football path at any number of regional schools that craved his multi-faceted skills, a list that included Air Force and Wyoming.

It’s never easy being the head coach’s son, particularly at a University of Colorado program that featured an often unpopular father-son pairing on the sideline and at quarterback in the not-too distant past. Yet the lure of remaining close to his family was a big reason why he was willing to take on the extra scrutiny of being the son of head coach Mike MacIntyre, and in the past year CU’s redshirt sophomore wide receiver has had numerous reasons to be thankful he stayed close to home.

Since last season the MacIntyre family has dealt with the deaths of the head coach’s father, George, as well as Jay MacIntyre’s maternal grandmother. Add to that grief the death of the longtime family dog, a significant hip fracture suffered by his younger brother last football season, and the Alzheimer’s Disease coach MacIntyre’s mother suffers from, and Jay MacIntyre has been grateful to have the support of his family nearby.

“It was a tough year, to say the least,” Jay MacIntyre said. “But we’re a real close family and that’s one of the reasons I decided to come to CU. It was really awesome to be able to go home and have them there, and now my sister is here for graduate school. Sticking together, knowing you’re playing for everything, and knowing you’re going to get through it together made it a little easier. But it was definitely tough.”

Perhaps overlooked at wideout with the return of Shay Fields, Devin Ross, and Bryce Bobo — that trio combined for 91 receptions, 1,129 yards, and six touchdowns in 2015 — and the addition of former Maryland receiver Juwann Winfree, Jay MacIntyre nonetheless is poised to become a more integral piece of the Buffaloes’ attack in 2016.

In limited action a year ago, MacIntyre recorded eight receptions for 84 yards. He did most of his damage against FCS-level Nicholls, when he recorded three receptions for 58 yards while posting a 38-yard touchdown reception the first time he ever touched the football as a Buffalo.

A frequent target of quarterback Sefo Liufau during Saturday’s scrimmage, MacIntyre said a significant priority of his during the offseason was improving his ability to make catches in traffic.

“He understands the offense and understands what his role is in the offense,” said co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini. “I think in this type of offense there is a role for the type of player Jay is. He’s smart. He understands how to get open. You see those type of guys in the NFL, the Julian Edelman and the Wes Welker-types. Guys who are smart and just understand football.

“Jay has gotten better from the spring to the fall. I know his dad is proud of him and I’m proud of him as a coach.”

Another aspect of MacIntyre’s breakout showing against Nicholls last season was a 31-yard punt return that marked the longest by a CU player since 2010. While the Buffs largely have employed a more conservative, sure-handed approach to punt returns under coach MacIntyre’s watch, do not be surprised if the younger MacIntyre gives the Buffs a more consistent weapon on special teams.

“We still have a competition at punt returner,” said MacIntyre, who is battling Fields for the job. “If I do get the job, I look forward to making an impact there.”

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