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Recognizing the depth and talent at wide receiver last year, Colorado’s Bryce Bobo figured he might have a better chance to play on defense.
Bobo spent one practice at safety before realizing where he really belonged.
A year later, he laughs when reminded of that short-lived experiment.
“When I think about it, I think about what an impulse decision that was on my part,” he said. “I came a long way with trying to go onto defense and then having a pretty good season last year. I’m just glad I made the right choice in coming back and playing receiver.”
Bobo caught 41 passes for 523 yards and two touchdowns last year. He had two exceptional one-handed catches, including the game-winner at Oregon, and he even threw a touchdown pass to running back Phillip Lindsay in a game at USC.
Coming into this year, CU’s depth and talent is greater than it was a year ago, and there’s no question Bobo will be an integral part of the group once again.
“I see his whole game has gone up in every area,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said Saturday.
MacIntyre said the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Bobo looks faster and he’s also bigger and stronger than a year ago.
“He made a nice catch today for a touchdown and then ran through a tackle, which he’s done in the past, but I think he’ll do it even more because he’s more powerful,” MacIntyre said.
Before last season, it was fair to question whether Bobo would ever make a big impact at CU.
Part of MacIntyre’s first recruiting class in 2013, Bobo redshirted that year and then had solid seasons in 2014 and 2015. Combined, he caught 47 passes for 422 yards and three touchdowns in those two seasons.
While Bobo didn’t miss any games in those two seasons, he was hampered by injuries during preseason camp both years and wasn’t always easy to be around. That limited his time on the field.
“Before (last year), I wasn’t really too confident in myself and I didn’t really have the best attitude all the time,” he said. “I think I was just young and dumb at the time. Now it’s getting to the point where I have to step up and be a leader. If I’m walking around with a bad attitude, the younger guys are going to see that and they’re going to think it’s OK to do stuff like that and it’s not OK. It’s not good to have someone negative on the team. Maturing in a positive way is always the best thing to do.”
After his one day at safety last year, Bobo had a long talk with receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini. That made a big impact on Bobo, who returned to receiver the next day and had an exceptional camp.
In the midst of last year’s camp, Juwann Winfree went down with a knee injury. That opened the door for Bobo, who seized the opportunity and turned it into his best season as a Buff.
This year, Bobo, fellow seniors Shay Fields and Devin Ross and junior Jay MacIntyre are all back as returning starters at receiver. That foursome combined for 189 catches, 2,523 yards and 17 touchdowns last year.
In addition, Winfree is healthy, senior Kabion Ento is enjoying an exceptional offseason, and CU has its most talented group of freshmen receivers in years.
Rather than thinking about a switch to defense, Bobo is using that competition to fuel him.
“We all love each other and want each other to succeed,” Bobo said. “We never once are bad mouthing each other or anything like that. If one of us is having a good practice and balling out, we have to root for that guy. At the end of the day, we want to win. Having a good, healthy competition is always going to be a good thing.”
Competition made Bobo better last year, and that’s only continued. He’s making plays in practice and has even embraced the opportunity to be a leader for young receivers, such as freshmen KD Nixon and Laviska Shenault.
That impulse decision to try defense a year ago may not have been the right choice in that moment, but it may have been the turning point Bobo needed.
“My transition from this past season to now, I’m a lot more mature in my decisions I’m making,” he said. “On the field, I’m really confident in my abilities and what I can do.”