The Pueblo Chieftan

A lot of catching up to do

BOULDER — His knee finally mended, Paul Richardson is baffling and burning defensive backs as he leads the nation in yards receiving.

The already speedy Colorado junior wideout believes he’s even quicker since his return from a torn left ACL that kept him sidelined all last season.

That’s right, quicker.

Hard to argue since Richardson has turned in back-to-back 200-yard performances to help a downtrodden Buffaloes program reel off two straight wins, doubling their total from a year ago.

His 21 catches and 417 yards are gaudy numbers sure to earn him more attention on the field, beginning Saturday when the Buffaloes host Fresno State.

The electric Richardson insisted he’s ready for the extra coverage, maintaining he’s better prepared — and definitely quicker — than he was before his injury.

“I’ve grown up a lot. I’ve gotten a little bit stronger, gotten faster, and think those things have helped me,” said Richardson, who tore his ACL during spring practice in April 2012 and took a redshirt season. “I can read coverages better, too. I can find sweet spots in the coverages.”

He erupted for 208 yards against rival Colorado State and followed that up with a 209-yard day in a win over Central Arkansas. His two-game average leads the nation.

Of the five 200-yard receiving games in CU history, Richardson now has three of them, including his record-setting performance in 2011 when he had 284 yards against California.

As Richardson sat out last season, he pictured a return in which he was more explosive and in perfect rhythm with quarterback Connor Wood. Still, this start has been beyond Richardson’s imagination.

“I don’t think anyone could have envisioned this,” the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Richardson said. “I’m very grateful. I wanted to start out fast and wanted us to do well early on, but never expected it to be this well.”

CU is moving him all over the place in an effort to get him open.

“Sometimes, the hardest (passes) to catch are the ones when no one is around you,” he said.

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