Most important player: Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado WR Nelson Spruce is coming off a 106-catch, 1,198-yard season. AP Photo/David Zalubowski

All players are equal, but some players are more equal than others. That's the basis of our "most important players" series.

There are a few rules you need to know.

1. Quarterbacks are ineligible.

2. “Most important” doesn’t equal “best.” (Note: Sometimes the most important player is the best player.) I think we can all agree that a season ago, players like Mike Bercovici and Jerry Neuheisel proved how very important they were to their respective teams.

3. Even if they were the most important, they’re QBs and therefore ineligible (see rule No. 1). Keep up, guys.

Colorado: WR Nelson Spruce

2014 production: Eye-popping, to put it simply. Spruce racked up a conference-best 106 catches and 1,198 receiving yards. He caught 12 touchdowns and even posted a 19-catch game.

Why Spruce is important: Sure, we could have tried to go the artsy route here. We could have picked someone else before going on to explain why they're more vital to Colorado's prospects than Spruce. But that would have been a major reach. The Buffs need to improve in so many facets of the game, but most of that advancement -- such as fixing what was far and away the Pac-12's worst run defense -- is reliant upon a large group of players. Spruce is the one man on Colorado's roster than can change the course of a game himself. He is the Buffs' most important player, and it really isn't up for debate.

As Colorado labored through a winless season in conference play last year, Spruce's massive production supplied much-needed life. His presence spearheaded an offense that performed competently enough to at least bring the Buffs close enough to lose in heartbreaking (as opposed to blowout) fashion, and those close defeats are providing the impetus for progress in 2015.

“I still remember the feeling of devastation after in the locker room,” Spruce said. “We’re trying to use those memories and turn them into motivation. We want them to fuel us this offseason.”

Colorado has its chance to make a breakthrough now in Spruce's final year. If they do, much credit will likely go to his dependable presence on the outside, which not only gobbles up receptions but also opens the field for fellow receiver Shay Fields and Colorado's run game.