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Top 15 CU Buffs football players of the decade - #1

Ryan Koenigsberg Avatar
June 12, 2015

 

Counting down the top 15 Colorado football players since the 2005-2006 season. Of course, it’s not the most fun decade to be looking at, but I think the down period created an interesting challenge when creating this list.

As it always goes with these lists, there is not an exact formula to determine the top 15, I tried to weigh a player’s success at CU over all other factors, but of course things like NFL success and fan favorite status creeped into the decision making process.

I’m sure people will disagree with placement, or certain players being left off, but that’s part of the fun of these, so as we work down the list, let me know where you disagree!

#1 – Paul Richardson

Explosiveness, explosiveness, explosiveness. If there is one big thing that seems absent on this list up until now, and consequently absent from the Buffs the last decade, it’s explosiveness. Sure speedy and Hugh Charles were quick, but it felt like they got caught from behind more than they should have. This guy seemingly never got caught from behind.

That’s part of the reason Paul Richardson ranks first on this list, he brought big play ability to the table that truly was not shown by anybody else that was eligible, any time he got his hands on the ball, there was a chance he was making a house call.

P-Rich busted on the scene as a freshman, averaging a team-best 15.1 yard per catch, and showing off that big-play ability with four of the team’s seven longest plays of the season (62, 60, 55 and 50 yards). Richardson was second on the team in yards (514) and touchdowns (6), while setting school records for  most catches (11) and yards (141) by a freshman in a single game at Kansas, also tying the overall mark for most receptions, and established the mark for frosh single-season yardage and TDs. When all was said and done in 2010, Paul garnered recognition as a second-team Freshman All-American by collegefootballnews.com and third-team honors from Phil Steele’s College Football. He was also named honorable mention freshman of the year in the Big 12.

As a sophomore, Richardson began to gain national recognition as he was added to the Beletnikoff  award watch list in week three after his ridiculous performance against Cal. He set a school record for the most receiving yards in a game with 284, doing so on 11 receptions, which tied CU’s single-game mark. Two of those catches went for touchdowns, covering 78 and 66 yards respectively. The 284 receiving yards ranked 2nd in the entire NCAA for the season. Unfortunately, Paul’s sophomore year was cut short, with a knee injury costing him four games, but his performance in the other nine was good enough to earn him second-team sophomore All-American honors from collegefootballnews.com.

Speaking of seasons lost to injury, more bad luck struck for Richardson in spring practice going into his junior year. Paul tore his ACL, causing him to miss all of 2012. But despite the injury, Richardson may have come back even more explosive for his redshirt-junior year.

Richardson did not disappoint in his long awaited return, in the season opener against Colorado state, Richardson put up a massive 209 yard performance, with two touchdowns of more than 50 yards, showing that he was clearly the best player on the field. Oh, and then he followed that up with a 208 yard performance against Central Arkansas, making him the first player in Pac-12 history to post back-to-back 200 yard receiving games.

On the season P-Rich set the set school single season records for receptions (83) (since broken by Nelson Spruce) and receiving yards (1,343), he was a first-team All-Pac 12 performer, as well as a third-team All-American by CBSSports.com, fourth-team by Phil Steele’s College Football and an honorable mention selection by Sports Illustrated.

After the season, Richardson chose to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft, where he was selected in the second round by the Seattle Seahawks as the 45th overall pick. In his rookie season last year, Paul caught 29 passes for 271 yards, and was coming on strong at the end of the season, but sadly tore his ACL once again in the first-round of the playoffs, cutting his season short. Reports out of Seattle is that there is a chance he will be ready for the start of this year.

Any of the top three on this list could have been selected number one, but in the end, I went with Richardson largely because he brought an explosiveness not matched by anyone else in the decade.

In case you forgot just how much of a threat he was, here’s a nice long highlight reel.

Thanks for following along through our countdown! Just 82 more days to kickoff against Hawaii.

Previous players:

#2 – Jordon Dizon

#3 – Nate Solder

#4 – Lawrence Vickers

#5 – Joel Klatt

#6 – Rodney Stewart

#7 – Mason Crosby

#8 – Nelson Spruce

#9 – Scotty McKnight

#10 – Jimmy Smith

#11 – Cody Hawkins

#12 – Hugh Charles

#13 – George Hypolite

#14 – Greg Henderson

#15 – David Bakhtiari

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