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  • Buffs tight end Darrion Jones could see his playing time...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Buffs tight end Darrion Jones could see his playing time increase this season.

  • Buffs tight end Brady Russell, left, caught five passes last...

    Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Buffs tight end Brady Russell, left, caught five passes last season for 41 yards.



When hired this offseason to coach the Colorado tight ends, Al Pupunu knew it was going to be a process to get his group ready.

With a week to go in spring practices, Pupunu is encouraged by the progress of a position group that isn’t used to being much of a weapon in the Buffaloes’ offense.

“Slowly we’re making improvements,” Pupunu said. “It’s taking some time, but that’s one thing that’s nice about spring ball is we’re continuing to get better. We’ve still got a long ways to go, but we have to continue to improve on it.”

Tight ends have caught a total of 17 passes in the last three years at CU, but that will change under new head coach Mel Tucker and offensive coordinator Jay Johnson. Pupunu, 49, is also a big believer in the tight end being a weapon, as he had a record-breaking career at Weber State before playing nine seasons in the NFL.

Right now, Pupunu and the Buffs have a group that’s got plenty of room to grow.

It’s a group that includes graduate transfer Jalen Harris, who played in 42 games over four years with Auburn, but mostly as a blocking tight end. The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Harris caught four passes for 33 yards with the Tigers.

Pupunu said Harris is still working on getting better at catching the ball, but said, “It’s coming along. Sometimes he has to get his head around faster and he’s got to relax his hands. A lot of times he just has to attack the football. Sometimes he’s waiting for the ball to catch it with his body.”

Darrion Jones is a 6-6, 250-pound senior who came to CU as a junior college transfer. He has yet to catch a pass with the Buffs and has plenty of work to do, as well.

“For him it’s more so doing and watching film and then doing again,” Pupunu said. “It’s a process for him, but there’s some things I saw that were encouraging (on Friday).”

Sophomores Brady Russell (five catches for 41 yards last year) and Jared Poplawski and senior Beau Bisharat, who moved over from running back earlier this month, are also competing and getting better.

The group accounted for seven of the Buffs’ 24 catches during a scrimmage on Friday, led by Harris’ four catches. Russell had two and Jones had one.

“They just have to continue to learn,” Pupunu said. “They’re willing to learn, they stay active and they ask questions, which is really nice. I’m liking the group. We just have to continue to get better.”


The Buffs had the weekend off and will return to the field on Monday for practice No. 13 of 15 for the spring. … The spring game is scheduled for noon Saturday at Folsom Field.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or

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