After the departure of Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson to the NFL, many were concerned about who could replace his explosive offensive power this season. But after the Buffaloes’ first game against CSU last week, it looks like that void may be filled by junior Nelson Spruce and true freshman Shay Fields.
Spruce and Fields combined for 15 receptions and 150 yards receiving. Spruce had 104 of those yards alone on seven catches, averaging 14.9 yards per play. While Fields only contributed 46 yards to that total, he did so on eight catches averaging 5.75 yards per play.
Despite Spruce’s obvious success on Friday, he didn’t believe he would become sophomore quarterback Sefo Liufau’s new go-to guy. Instead, he thinks his seniority caused Liufau’s decision to continuously throw to him during the game.
“I’m just a year older so I’m kind of expanding my role, and we’re also really deep so that helps free me up more than other guys,” Spruce said.
During his breakout rookie performance, Fields put his name in the history books — his eight catches tied the school record for the most by a true freshman in their Colorado football debut. The last time a Buff achieved that feat was in 2012, when Spruce matched the record Scotty McKnight set in 2007.
“It’s pretty exciting seeing my name go up in the record book as a tie, but you kind of want to break it at the same time,” said Fields after practice on Wednesday.
But he can’t be too disappointed, because he also set a new record: the most receiving yards in a true debut game (46). The previous record of 40 yards was set by Josh Smith in 2007.
After his explosive game, Colorado coaches and players alike are expecting a lot out of Fields this season. Spruce said that although he is a freshman, he expected Fields to make an impact on the field immediately.
“It was a big first game for him, but I wasn’t surprised,” Spruce said. “He had prepared during camp and he’s been working hard ever since he got here, so I just expect him to keep doing more and more for our offense.”
In Tuesday’s press luncheon, Head coach Mike MacInytre had nothing but good things to say about him.
“[Fields] played well for a true freshman in his first game,” MacIntyre said. “I look for him to keep getting better and better and be able to be a playmaker for us…He can run fast, he has good hands, he tracks the ball well in the air, and he has good quickness and good tools. So I think if he just keeps working hard, he can be an excellent player in the Pac-12.”
The Buffs return to the field on Saturday, September 6 at the University of Massachusetts, where they will take on the Minutemen at 1:00 p.m. MST. The game will be streamed on espn3.com.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alissa Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org.