TE Klopfenstein Locked and Loaded for 2005 Campaign
In the past decade the University of Colorado has seen two NFL-bound tight ends go on to make big names for themselves at the professional level. Daniel Graham and Christian Fauria both acquired Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots during their 2003 and 2004 championship seasons.
To continue the tradition Colorado has large expectations for its newest tight end stand out Joe Klopfenstein. Klopfenstein is a 6-6, 245-pound senior from Aurora, Colo. who began his career during his freshman year at CU. Since then Klopfenstein has emerged as one of the top tight ends in the nation, with similarities that remind CU position coach John Wristen of the 2002 All-American Graham.
"They're (Graham and Klopfenstein) comparable in size, skill-wise and speed-wise," Wristen said. "Graham went on to prove it, now we've got to keep Joe working hard through his senior year."
Working hard has propelled Klopfenstein into one of the most feared tight ends in the country. He won the Buffs' Dominator Explosion workout division this spring by a landslide, beating all other tight ends, linebackers and fullbacks on the team in several lifting, jumping and speed drills. The most impressive of Klopfenstein's recorded workout was his 40-yard dash time of 4.53, which was.09 seconds faster than his 2004 mark.
"I worked a lot on flexibility during the off-season," Klopfenstein stated. "Last winter I was stiff and weighed a little more; flexibility has made a big difference in my speed."
Klopfenstein demonstrated his speed and strength in last season's EV1.Net Houston Bowl when he broke two tackles and then beat a safety down the field to record a 78-yard touchdown catch. The reception shattered two CU records, including the longest reception by a tight end (68 yards, Jon Embree, 1986) and the longest bowl game completion (76 yards, Koy Detmer to Rae Carruth, 1996 Holiday Bowl). His snag also brought Colorado back into the game, which the Buffs would eventually win by beating the University of Texas El Paso 33-28.
"I didn't catch any passes until midway through the third quarter," Klopfenstein noted in regards to his Houston Bowl performance. "Once I got one, they just seemed to keep coming to me."
Klopfenstein had five catches for 134 yards and caught one of Joel Klatt's two touchdown passes in the bowl game. During the regular season he recorded 28 catches for 284 yards and four touchdowns and was awarded second-team all-Big 12 accolades.
He received honorable mention honors in his sophomore season after nabbing 20 passes for 190 yards and four scores.
Buffs head coach, Gary Barnett said Klopfenstein has been on a constant progression since he joined the team in 2002. Both Barnett and Wristen expect Klopfenstein to continue to improve and excel during his senior year. Currently "Klop" is off to a good start, as he reeled in two passes for 20 yards and one touchdown this past Saturday in CU's first full spring scrimmage.
Now, Klopfenstein has evolved as a contender for this season's John Mackey Award, given to the best tight end in the country. The only Buffalo to win the award was Graham in 2001, after posting 106 catches for 1,543 yards and 11 touchdowns while at Colorado (51-753, six TDs his senior year).
This season, Buff fans needn't look any farther than Klopfenstein, No. 89, as he leads Colorado's receiving corps en route to a possible award-winning campaign.
"I don't know anybody better," Wristen proclaimed when asked about Klopfenstein's competition for the John Mackey Award. "I'm just glad he's playing on our team."