Simmons' arrival should boost Colorado's ground-based offense

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Colorado's depleted wide receiving corps received a huge boost Tuesday when heralded junior college transfer Andre Simmons was back at practice with his new team.

Simmons was unable to take part in practice drills with his new team as school officials conducted a final review of his academic records and the process leading up to his enrollment.

Colorado coaches hope that Simmons will be able to work with his new teammates as soon as Wednesday to provide additional firepower for a wide receiving corps that will be depleted for the start of the season because of a player transfer and suspension.

Simmons reported with the rest of the Buffaloes on Aug. 6 but has not been able to work out with the team because of an eligibility issue.

On Tuesday, the transfer from Independence (Kan.) Community College appeared without pads and talked with his teammates and coaches throughout the Buffaloes' practice as they prepare for their Sept. 6 opener against Colorado State.

He's exactly what the Buffaloes need to fill their biggest positional void. The Buffaloes have already lost prime playmaker Josh Smith, who transferred to UCLA earlier this summer. And sophomore Markques Simas has been suspended for Colorado's first two games of the upcoming season for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Simmons is counted as the kind of athletic, speedy receiver who will provide a deep threat for a Colorado offense that ranked 81st nationally and 11th among Big 12 teams in passing last season. Colorado returns only one starting wide receiver -- junior Scotty McKnight.

Simmons, a native of Blackville, S.C., was the lone junior college transfer among Colorado's signees after producing 91 receptions during his two seasons at Independence.
"He'll give an instant boost to the wide receiver position, and not to take anything away from the current guys, but he's going to have that vertical speed," Colorado offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau told cubuffs.com.His talents as a kick returner should immediately help fill the absence for Smith, who set a school record with 1,568 return yards last season.

While it's doubtful that Simmons will be able to have much of an immediate contribution, he should be ingrained in the Buffaloes' offense by the time conference play begins.

He and Simas will provide some balance to an offense that figures initially to be heavily ground-based with Darrell Scott, Rodney Stewart and Demetrius Sumler.

That balance will be the key if Colorado hopes to be a dark horse contender in a North Division race that figures to be extremely wide open.

The Buffaloes have a favorable schedule with home games against divisional challengers Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

And the arrival of Simmons definitely won't hurt their chances.