Spring Practices Analysis – Wide receivers and Tight Ends

Colorado has concluded its spring practices, with three of the 15 practices open to the public, including a “Spring Showcase” which featured a glorified scrimmage instead of a Spring game.

While information has been limited, there have been notes and quotes aplenty. Over the next few weeks, we will review each unit on the team, along with analysis as to whether Buff fans should be C+ … Confident; C … Cautiously optimistic; or C- … Concerned.

Previously postedQuarterbacksRunning backs

Wide Receivers and Tight ends


The unanimous choice for most electrifying performance from CU’s Spring Showcase was wide receiver Laviska Shenault. The sophomore scored the only two touchdowns of the scrimmage, collecting scoring passes from Steven Montez covering 24 and 14 yards (the latter of which included a pair of highlight moves).

Shenault’s two catches were his only two of the Spring Showcase. Junior Tony Brown led the Buffs with five catches for 58 yards and three first downs, while Juwann Winfree had four receptions for 40 yards (with all four catches earning first downs). Redshirt freshman Maurice Bell was the only other Buff with more than three receptions, collecting three for 12 yards.


… On senior wide receiver Juwann Winfree … Winfree, who will be a fifth-year senior next fall, hasn’t participated in a spring football session since his freshman year at Maryland.

Thus, while spring ball may be a grind for some of his veteran classmates, it is a treat for Winfree to simply be on the field.

“It’s a really important time for me,” Winfree said. “I want to put everything together that I’ve been working for in the offseason — and this is the year I have to put it all together in the fall. It’s my final year and I want to get to the next level. If I’m going to do that, I have to prove everything this year.”

“We’re counting on Juwann Winfree and Kabion Ento to make big plays for us,” wide receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini said. “We know they have the ability, now we want to see that consistency.”

“I’m excited about K.D.’s ability to catch the ball, his ability to run the ball, and when he has the ball in his hands, he’s a difference maker,” CU co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said of sophomore K.D. Nixon. “It’s exciting to have guys like that.”

Nixon has shown just a small glimpse of his potential to this point. As a true freshman last season, he caught two passes for 17 yards, ran three times for 20 yards and averaged 23.7 yards on 11 kickoff returns.

He is planning on having a much bigger impact next season.

“Just know there’s going to be a rude awakening for a lot of people,” he said. “Everybody will know my name.”

… “It really comes down to speed and quickness and short area space awareness,” Chiaverini said. “(Nixon) is very good at being able to get open, if it’s on a curl route or a comeback route. His short-area explosiveness is really impressive.

“He’s working hard, he’s getting better and he’s making plays and he’s having a good spring.”

On junior college transfer tight end Darrion Jones … A transfer from Los Angeles Harbor College, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Jones brings a unique set of skills to the tight end position, but as the Buffs go into their final few days of spring practices, he’s still trying to grasp the offense.

“That’s for sure,” tight ends coach Gary Bernardi said. “There’s a lot to learn. (CU’s tight ends) have a lot to do with all the formations, and over the course of the game they could actually line up in six different places. All those things take various techniques.”

Jones, who will be a junior and has two years to play, caught 41 passes for 795 yards and five touchdowns last season at LAHC, and he could be a dynamic weapon for the Buffs. It’s going to take some time to get him to that point, however.

“He’s a little bit bigger target, but he needs to get stronger, too,” Bernardi said. “The game goes a lot faster than what he’s used to, which is a normal situation (for newcomers).”

Colorado receiver Jay MacIntyre had foot surgery on March 16th, but is expected to be ready for fall camp.

CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said his son, a senior slot receiver, has not fully recovered from the foot injury he sustained last season.

Jay had a Lisfranc injury that caused him to miss the Buffs’ Pac-12 opener against Washington on Sept. 23 last year, but that injury wound up leading to a Jones fracture, which is a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone on the outside of the foot.

“He basically played with a broken foot all year and just fought through it,” coach MacIntyre said. “We didn’t realize it was as bad as it was, so they’ve been shutting him down.”

Laviska Shenault has been impressive all spring,” said co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini.

Shenault, who caught seven passes for 168 yards last season, is physically impressive at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, and he was named the team’s most improved receiver this spring. He’s one of several receivers that could be in line for a big season.

“We’ve had some good players (at receiver),” Montez said. “If he keeps continuing to work and gets a few more years of experience, he’ll definitely be an NFL guy. I don’t think that’s a question at all.”


Addition by subtraction.

You would never get any CU coach to actually say it, but there is a good chance that the Buff receiving corps could be better this year than it was last year.

You remember last year? When Colorado graduated not one, not two, but three of the top eight wide receivers in the history of CU football?

Gone are Shay Fields (third all-time in receptions; second all-time in receiving yards), Byrce Bobo (seventh all-time in receptions; 11th in receiving yards), and Devin Ross (eighth all-time in receptions; 12th all-time in receiving yards).

And the Buffs – if Steven Montez can be consistent and offensive line can protect the passer – could be even more dynamic this fall.

The sophomore duo of Laviska Shenault and K.D. Nixon – teammates at DeSoto high school in Texas – are primed for breakout seasons. That is, of course, if they can see their way to more catches than a pair of hungry seniors, Kabion Ento and Juwann Winfree, who have shown flashes in the past, but have yet to realize their full potential.

Oh, and don’t forget about senior Jay MacIntyre, who just happens to be the Buff receiver returning with the most catches last season (28 receptions for 396 yards and two touchdowns), or junior Tony Brown.

(We won’t even get into the fact that there are three true freshmen coming to Boulder this summer who would be vying for playing time this fall if the roster wasn’t already so loaded).

Oh, and the Colorado offense, with the addition of junior college transfer Darrion Jones and the development of Chris Bounds and Jared Poplawski may – just may – throw the ball to its tight ends this fall.

Entering his third year with the Buffaloes, co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini is taking over as the play-caller this year and the 15 spring practices gave him on a jump on his new role.

“It’s just me getting in the flow of calling it,” he said. “That’s really all it is. The offense, we’ve tweaked it here and there and we’ve added some pieces to it and we’ve (mixed up personnel) on some stuff to help us be able to go fast.

… “At the end of the day, kids have to make plays and we know that,” Chiaverini said. “If we’re making plays at a high level we’re moving the ball, good things are going to happen for us.”

The play-makers are there on the roster.

It will be up to the Colorado offense to find ways to get them the ball in space.

Grade … C+ … Confident … 


4 Replies to “Notes and Quotes – WR’s”

  1. Seems like a much more positive vibe and chemistry with this upcoming team than last. Hopefully that translates to more 2016 and less 2017. That 2017 squad really lacked leadership when 1.)the seniors were the WR’s who seemed a little more “me” than “us”, and 2.)the year started with 2 significant leaders/seniors/captains (Irwin and Frazier) getting suspended. That’s not leadership. Need Montez to step up as team leader and hope that the seniors are more “team” this year. Just hoping Coach Chev plays the best players and awards the playmakers instead of just the seniors (like last year).

  2. Players make players. Players win games
    Coaches design/call plays. Coaches win games.

    Yup and great play design and calling allows, assists, helps the players make the plays and the team (players and coaches) win games. (Take a memo billymac..remove your teflon shield)

    And Chiv says:
    I’ve been in this offense. It’s just a matter of me getting in the flow of calling it.”

    Anyway ye ol receiver corps. Too bad those sophomores didn’t get to play more last year. Wonder why? Who the heck was in charge out there? Loyalty to the seniors?………immature attitude….

    Ol Chiv knows how to be crafty. This ain’t gonna be your Lindy-lu offense. And not just the speed aspect. Ya but just tweaks and twerks bla bla fake.

    The receiving corps looks quite impressive on paper and on the field. I am hoping the O with the help of this corp can break the mold of the middle of the pac 12 offense the mighty Buffs have had for the last 5 years.

    And the tight ends. Damn is this the year?

    6 months.


    Note of specialty: I hope lil Mac gets his foot in order. Interesting he played last year with that issue. Gutty.

  3. The quotes I see on Jones doesnt really make me optimistic that we will see any kind of significant increase in TE receiving participation. Not that Jones isnt capable but it sounds like he is going to be blocking most of the time in all those different formations.
    At least, Chev, let the TEs be a surprise play one in a while when you need some deception.

    1. You extra point. Is it spring down/over there yet? It can’t decide around Boulder.


      Jones, Bounds and Pop, are more than capable.

      All receivers will be required to block most of the time (ie when they don’t have the ball)

      All those different positions are based, caused, manifested by the different position groups available for which situation etc etc.

      Tight ends? Call em big big wideouts. Don’t line up in the traditional TE position (goal line not withstanding) Lined up off the LOS or Split like a WO.

      See this ain’t the lindy thought process where you keep the TE into block cause the Oline needs the help. No this is the Chiv offense where you split out the TE and force a LB or safety to take on the big guy. Yup right yup.

      Lindy was “I gotta protect our weakness.” Chiv is “Screw our weakness, I am gonna expose yours.”

      And that ladies and gents is what is coming.


      Note: NEW ERA………FOLSOM FIRE………… (2-1….5-4)

      Note: And boding for the future.. Seniors this year:
      qb None
      rb evans, lee, McMillian
      te None
      wr Ento, Lil mac, Winfree
      Ol Kaiser
      DL Edwards, Franke, Mulumba
      Olb None
      ilb Gamboa Lewis
      CB None
      S Fisher, Worthington, Trego Sanchez Talley

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