At 6 feet, 5 inches tall, and with 235 pounds on his frame, Caleb Fauria has the physical tools to be a beast on the field.
“He’s a natural football player,” Colorado tight ends coach Clay Patterson said.
There is also no shortage of resources available to Fauria, a third-year freshman tight end from Attleboro, Mass.
In addition to Patterson, Fauria leans on senior Brady Russell. Plus, his father, Christian, was a third-team All-American tight end at CU before a long NFL career. His cousin, Joseph, also played tight end in the NFL.
The most important piece coming together for Fauria, however, is his health. After dealing with multiple injuries during his two years at CU, he had a good preseason camp this month and is ready for the Buffaloes’ opener on Friday against TCU (8 p.m.; TV: ESPN) at Folsom Field.
“I’ve been banged up since I got here in 2020,” said Fauria, who turned 21 on Sunday. “I played a little last year but I got hurt with my shoulder so I missed spring. But now I’m finally back and ready to go.”
Fauria was nursing a leg injury when he got to CU in 2020 and has also had meniscus and shoulder injuries. He missed most of the spring practices in April after shoulder surgery.
Although he got some playing time, mostly on special teams, in four games last year, Fauria hasn’t had significant playing time since his senior year at Bishop Feehan (Mass.) High School in 2019.
Russell, a sixth-year senior, is the clear leader of CU’s tight end group, but Fauria enters the season No. 2 on the depth chart and he is more than ready to get rolling.
“I’m pumped,” he said. “I haven’t played a full season since junior year of high school. I’m just really excited to get out there with the boys.”
Mainly a receiver in high school, Fauria caught 70 passes for 1,227 yards and 17 touchdowns during his prep career but is looking forward to seeing what he can do on this level.
“I think everyone kind of wants to know, but for me, I’m just worried about what I can do to help the team, whether it be run game or pass game,” he said.
Patterson is already the third position coach Fauria has had at CU and he’s learned a lot from him. But, the constant has been Russell, who has mentored Fauria from the beginning.
“I learn a lot every day,” Fauria said. “He was my roommate in camp, so just being around and seeing how he carries himself, what he does and how he prepares his body and everything, I’m just taking mental notes from that and just trying to apply it to myself.”
Fauria also uses the resources he has with his father and cousin. Christian ranks top three in career catches (98) and receiving yards (1,058) for a tight end in CU history and then played 13 years in the NFL, helping the New England Patriots win back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004.
Christian doesn’t interfere too much, Fauria said, but there are times when he calls his father for advice.
“I called him (last week) to get some little tips on hand placement and first step and everything,” Fauria said. “He’s a great asset that I have, that I don’t think a lot of other people have.
“It’s good to get coaching from coach Patterson and this offensive staff and then taking that to my dad and be like, ‘OK, they told me this and this, what else can I do to add on to it?’ I’m trying to be the best player I can be.”
Part of that is developing as a blocker because he didn’t do a lot of that in high school. Fauria said that part of his game is coming along.
“Every day it’s getting better,” he said.
Patterson said Fauria has great hands and agrees that his blocking has improved.
“I think he’s going to surprise some people,” Patterson said.
Fauria would love to do just that but is enjoying the steps of progress and finally being healthy.
“It’s been awesome to get back out there and just be healthy again and compete with my teammates,” he said.