CU Buffs position preview: Brady Russell leads tight ends

Over the course of the past four seasons, Brady Russell has raised the bar at tight end at Colorado.

The former walk-on has been the most productive tight end at CU in years, racking up 58 catches for 646 yards and three touchdowns. Now a sixth-year senior, Russell is hoping to have his best season, but he also has his young teammates at tight end in mind.

“I want to leave (the tight end room) in a good place,” he said.

“Brady takes a lot of pride in being the older guy in the room of what this tight end room is going to be when he leaves; what’s his legacy of this room,” tight ends coach Clay Patterson said. “You talk about a kid that walked on and then has become one of our best players on this football team.”

Russell isn’t resting on what he’s done to this point, however. He knows there’s room to improve.

“I’ve got to grow a lot more in my pass game (this offseason) and understanding the different things I can do,” he said. “That’s probably where I’ve seen the most growth.”

As good as Russell has been, the Buffs haven’t had a productive second tight end in a long time. Backup tight ends have accounted for only 60 receiving yards the past two years.

Russell is the only tight end on the current roster that has caught a pass in college, but the Buffs are excited about the potential of their young players, in particular Caleb Fauria, Erik Olsen and Austin Smith.

“It’s fun to see (the youth developing),” Patterson said. “It takes time to develop the strength in the weight room, so when you’re younger, you’ve got to have a lot more detail to be successful with your pad level, your hand placement, all those things and these kids are very, very intelligent.

“We’ve just got to get them grown up pretty fast.”

In the Buffs’ offense, directed by first-year coordinator Mike Sanford, tight ends are expected to be featured more than in recent years, so Russell needs help from the young group.

“Those guys are excited because they’re part of the progression,” Sanford said. “That’s a big part of it. They’re a major part of the actual progression in each one of our pass concepts.”

At the end of the spring, Russell was excited about his own development, but also the growth of his fellow tight ends.

“They came farther along than I would have ever imagined under coach Patterson and me trying to help as much as I can,” he said.

 

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