In his first season on the varsity roster for the Colorado football team, Monte Huber put together an unprecedented campaign.
If not for some of Huber’s competition at receiver being distracted by track the previous spring, Huber’s Buffaloes career might have unfolded much differently.
Huber, a Colorado native from Fort Collins, was a quarterback at Poudre High School and spent his freshman season at CU working out with the Buffs’ defensive backs. As he prepped for his first varsity season in the spring of 1967 (freshmen were ineligible for varsity play at the time), CU coach Eddie Crowder approached Huber about a position change.
The Buffs’ leading receiver from the previous fall, Larry Plantz, was busy that spring with the CU track and field team and the other receivers were struggling to fill the void. Huber eagerly accepted the challenge, and the groundwork was laid for a record-setting 1967 season.
“It just happened that Larry Plantz, who was the receiver the year before, was out for track and so he wasn’t participating in spring football,” Huber recalled. “They didn’t seem to have anybody on the offense as far as a receiver that was catching the ball all that well. So they approached me and asked if I’d like to try receiver. I was really excited about it.
“We had our spring game and I was at receiver, and I caught some passes in the spring game. I loved the position. Back then we didn’t throw the ball that many times. There were games we only threw the ball 10 or 15 times. Fortunately most of the time when we did throw, they threw it in my direction. I was pretty much the only target.”
Huber being the only target that year wasn’t an exaggeration. Of CU’s 90 receptions in 1967, exactly half of them went to Huber, who, at the time, shattered the program’s single-season receptions record. Granted it was a different era — for example, CU’s 2016 Pac-12 South Division title team had three players record at least 45 receptions, with two more nabbing at least 30. Yet for a program that, for the first time, entered the season with a national ranking (No. 10), Huber’s emergence in the passing game played a critical role.
In his first career start against Baylor in the opener on Sept. 16, Huber caught six passes for 74 yards in a 27-7 CU victory. Quarterback Bobby Anderson also was making the first start of what became a legendary career, and five of his 11 completions went to Huber, who also caught one from backup quarterback Dan Kelly.
“We appreciated the ranking. I was a sophomore at the time and that was the first game I started at CU,” said Huber, whose 38 receptions a year later was the second-highest total in team history. “When you’re a sophomore making your first start, I don’t know if there were extra nerves. We just had a lot of confidence on that team and we had a great coaching staff.”
Huber’s 111 career catches still ranks 14th in CU history and he held the career record until 1993, when Michael Westbrook and Charles Johnson both passed him. Nobody else who played at CU before 1980 had more than 68 career catches (Dave Logan). Huber remains 15th in career receiving yards (1,436) and Logan was the only other pre-1980 player to even reach 1,000 (1,078).
Huber is 73 now, and he remains a hands-on owner of a liquor store in Fort Collins alongside his son, despite acquiring six artificial joints over the years.
“With my son with me, it’s still a joy to come to work every day,” Huber said. “I was never the type of person that really wanted to work for other people. I wanted to have my own business. It turned out that way. People who play college football, I think you just have a mentality that you never give up, and you develop great life skills.”