Buffs' career receptions leader Spruce eager to face rival

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) Nelson Spruce isn't blazing fast. That's something he's well aware of.

Listed at a generous 6-foot-1, Colorado's senior receiver also isn't a huge target. Again, he knows.

But get the ball anywhere near him - anywhere at all - and he'll find a way to haul it in.

Spruce became the school's all-time receptions leader with 219 in a win over UMass last week. He needs just 122 yards receiving against Colorado State on Saturday to topple that career mark, too.

There's no game he'd rather achieve it in, either, if it helps the Buffs (1-1) knock off the Rams (1-1). For a player who grew up in California, Spruce has come to fully embrace this rivalry.

''It's my last season, and I don't know how I'll be able to live with myself if we don't come out with a win,'' Spruce said. ''There's just something about this game. You can't really put it into words.''

Spruce has four more career catches than the previous record-holder Scotty McKnight (2007-10). With 2,427 yards receiving to date, Spruce is closing in on the record held by former Buffaloes standout Michael Westbrook (2,548 in 1991-94).

''When you get to college, it's such a big stage and you're worried about learning everything because everything comes at you so fast,'' said Spruce, who went to high school in Westlake Village, California. ''Records? That doesn't even enter your mind. The older you get, the more real it gets. You push yourself to reach new heights.''

It's been quite a career for the quiet receiver who counts lifting weights as one of his favorite hobbies and ''Game of Thrones'' as his can't-miss TV show.

Ask Spruce about his first reception and he has no recollection, other than it occurred against Colorado State in 2012.

Turns out, he had a 7-yard gain in the first quarter that moved the chains. He's made those kinds of catches a lot in his career. Spruce prides himself on being precise in his patterns, which allows him to gain separation from defensive backs.

''A great route runner. That's the biggest thing for him,'' quarterback Sefo Liufau said. ''Because he's not the fastest guy.''

No, he's not.

''But that's what pushes me to get better in other aspects of my games, knowing that I'm not the biggest burner in the world,'' Spruce said. ''I focus on other things.''

Spruce's favorite catch? The one over a defensive back to send the game to a second overtime in a loss at California last season. He had a school-record 19 catches in the contest.

His favorite game? When the Buffaloes erased a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to beat Washington State in 2012 for their only win of the season. Spruce had eight catches for 103 yards.

Wins mean more to him than numbers. And over the years, victories have been sparse for Colorado. That's why setting the career receptions mark in a 48-14 victory over UMass made it all the more enjoyable.

''If we didn't get the win, it's something I couldn't really think about,'' Spruce said. ''We're building momentum going into Colorado State.''

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AP College Football Website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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