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Spring Practices … First Look: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Program Note … Spring practices begin March 18th (Spring Game: April 27th). Between now and the start of spring ball, previews will be posted for each unit of the 2019 Colorado roster.

… Previously posted: QuarterbacksRunning Backs

The roster: 

WIDE RECEIVERS (11 scholarship):

Seniors: Tony Brown
Juniors: Laviska Shenault; K.D. Nixon;
Sophomores: Jaylon Jackson; Maurice Bell; Daniel Arias
Redshirt freshmen: Dylan Thomas; Dimitri Stanley
True freshmen: Braedin Huffman-Dixon; Tarik Luckett; Vontae Shenault

TIGHT ENDS (6 scholarship):

Seniors: Darrion Jones; Jalen Harris (graduate transfer)*
Juniors: Derek Coleman
Sophomores: Brady Russell; Jared Poplawski
Redshirt freshmen: None
True freshmen: None

* Early enrollees, will be on campus for spring practices

The stats (2018)

— Wide Receivers:

Laviska Shenault … 86 receptions for 1,011 yards; six touchdowns … 17 carries for 115 yards; five touchdowns

K.D. Nixon … 52 receptions for 636 yards; four touchdowns … nine carries for minus-eight yards; one touchdown

Tony Brown … 32 receptions for 333 yards; one touchdown

— Jaylon Jackson … 8 receptions for 44 yards

Dimitri Stanley … 6 receptions for 43 yards

— Tight ends:

Brady Russell … five receptions for 41 yards

There will be a new star wide receiver this spring

The headline from the Daily Camera last spring read, “Buffs’ Laviska Shenault shines in spring showcase“:

Colorado is so loaded with talent at receiver that it’s tough to predict which of the Buffaloes’ weapons is going to shine on a given day.

During CU’s annual spring showcase on Saturday, it was Laviska Shenault’s day.

… “Laviska Shenault has been impressive all spring and he showed it again today,” said co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini.

Shenault, CU’s 1000-yard receiver from last season, will miss spring practices this year.

Shenault missed three games with a toe injury last season, which wasn’t fully healed when he returned for the final three games.

Then, in the Buffs’ 30-7 loss to Utah on Nov. 17, he suffered a torn labrum. Shenault played the season finale at California while dealing with both injuries, yet still caught seven passes for 65 yards.

Since the season came to an end, Shenault said he’s been “rehabbing, rehabbing, rehabbing,” but he will not participate in spring practices.

“I’m feeling good now,” Laviska told the Daily Camera. “I’m extremely excited (about the progress). I cannot wait until the day they say I’m cleared. It’s going to be hard not going through spring, but I’m here for the support.”

Shenault said he doesn’t expect to be cleared by doctors until the summer, but is trying to maintain a positive attitude as he looks forward to next season.

“It’s definitely hard, because I feel like I put basically everything into this and not being able to play for even a little bit is kind of aggravating,” he said. “I’m just going to trust the process. Mentally, I just know I’ll be back before the season, so that’s good.”

If not ‘Viska … Who?

There has been a great number of stories written about Laviska Shenault, who was on some mid-season All-American teams before he got hurt (and before Colorado went into the tank in the second half of the season).

There has also been a great deal of attention given to ‘Viska’s little brother, Vontae, who signed with the Buffs in February.

Neither Shenault, however, will be on the field for spring practices this March and April.

Which may just open the door for the the third member of the Desoto, Texas, trio … K.D. Nixon.

It’s hard not to root for K.D. (full name is Kadarrian), who has 13 brothers and sisters. Nixon has had some exciting moments as a Buff last season. Nixon had six catches for 112 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown in the season opener against Colorado State. He also had a memorable game – 13 catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns – last October. Unfortunately, it came in the meltdown game against Oregon State, a game we are trying hard to forget.

Here is a video of K.D. with Ashley Adamson of the Pac-12 Networks last fall:

Underclassmen need to make an impression … while they have a chance

While the remaining upperclassmen – K.D. Nixon and Tony Brown – don’t have much to prove this spring, there will be two red-shirt freshmen who will get their first chance at making a first impression – Dimitri Stanley and

In case you have forgotten their bios from the Recruiting Class of 2019, allow me to reintroduce you:

Dimitri Stanley ... Was rated as a four-star recruit and the top prospect in the state of Colorado by 247Sports.com … Scout.com rated him as a 3-star prospect and the No.1-ranked athlete in the state … 247Sports.com rated him as a 3-star recruit and No. 3 in Colorado … Selected to the Denver Post’s 2017 All-Colorado football team … Was a first-team All-State selection by CHSAA and Max Preps as a senior and a 2016 All-Colorado pick by Six Zero Strength/Mile High Sports… In his prep career he had 183 receptions for 2,588 yards (14.1 per) and 36 touchdowns …  As a senior, he posted 81 receptions for 1,192 yards receiving (14.7 per catch, 99.3 per game) with 20 touchdowns and a long of 72 … Also had nine carries for 27 yards and was 3-of-5 passing for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Dylan Thomas … Scout.com and ESPN rated him as a four-star prospect … Rivals.com and 247Sports.com rated him as a 3-star prospect … Was a first-team All-League selection as a junior at San Jose High School … In 10 games, he posted 700 yards receiving with eight touchdowns.

A tip of the CU at the Game hat to wide receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini

A year ago, Darrin Chiaverini was the co-offensive coordinator at Colorado.

Four months ago, there were concerns that the Buff Nation would lose Chiaverini to a head coaching position – with Coach Chev perhaps potentially heading back to Texas Tech.

Two months ago, there were questions whether Chiaverini would be out of a job.

Such is the trials and travails of being a college football coach.

Now, after staying on as CU’s wide receivers coach – and recruiting coordinator – Chiaverini is being hailed as one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation.

From Rivals … Holding dual titles as recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach, Darrin Chiaverini was one of three assistants held over from Mike MacIntyre’s staff when Mel Tucker took over the Buffaloes’ program in December. The task in any coaching turnover is retaining those commitments you want, and finding new targets to fill holes on the roster. Chiaverini expertly helped Tucker achieve both and sign a full class. The gem of Chiaverini’s haul was four-star wide receiver La’Vontae Shenault, who Colorado landed on the first day of the Late Signing Period. Chiaverini was responsible for at least six others, including the next-highest rated recruits after Shenault in receiver Braeden Huffman-Dixon  and linebacker Jashua Allen. 

One more time … Is THIS the year that tight ends become part of the offense?

Chris Bounds apparently did not believe so. Bounds had one catch for 15 yards, but has since left the team. That leaves Brady Russell and his five catches for 41 yards as the man to beat.

All kidding aside … this could be the year that a Colorado offense actually throws the ball to a tight end.

If not Russell, there are two other options for the new coaching staff to utilize:

– Jared Poplawski saw action in nine games last season, before he tore his ACL in the game against USC. Poplawski is 6’4″, 240-pounds, and has the frame to be a successful tight end; and

– Jalen Harris, a graduate transfer from Auburn. Harris played in 42 games in his career with the Tigers before pulling the plug on his 2018 season three games in, allowing him to replay his senior campaign in 2019. Harris will participate in spring practices, and, as they say, you don’t bring in a transfer to sit on the bench …

Overall … Heading into the 2018 season, the Buffs were losing three of its top ten all-time reception leaders (Shay Fields, Devin Ross, Bryce Bobo).

Not a problem.

If anything, it was “addition by subtraction”, with the loss of three starters making way for other players, most notably Laviska Shenault, to rise to the top of the depth chart.

This spring, Shenault is out while he recovers from off-season surgeries, making way for other players to make names for themselves.

Will this be the year Tony Brown asserts himself? Will K.D. Nixon remind Buff fans that there, in fact, three star receivers on the roster from DeSoto high in Texas?

Or will of the many underclassmen on the roster catch the eyes of the Buff faithful?

Many questions … all with likely positive answers.

With two four-star receivers on their way this fall, and with Darrin Chiaverini back as the full-time wide receivers coach, the future of the wide receiver corps at Colorado looks bright.

(Now, if we could only get a pass or two over the middle to the tight ends …).

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5 Replies to “Spring Practices … First Look: Wide Receivers/Tight Ends”

  1. WTHeck? Stuart goes to all this work giving us this preview of spring ball under the new coaching staff and no comments. “Well I’ll tell you Pilgrim,” all of you………everyone has complained and rightfully so for years under the MacII offense about the lack of TE participation. Here is Stuart’s preview of the WR’s and TE’s and nary a comment.

    Although this is the Chinese New Year of the Pig, I’m looking more forward to the CU Year of the Tight End, and I think that we just might have some sleepers on this team that will come to the fore, and wouldn’t that be nice to give opposing D’s something else to also think about, finally?

    1. Well Well Well, the ol windmill hole king pulls a little John Wayne on us. Ain’t that special. The ones sleeping on the tight ends on this team have been the coaches in the past not the tight ends. They just been playing their role of helping out the atrocious Oline play and coaching. So hopefully the new guys in charge shore up the Oline to allow the tight ends to become valuable assets in the passing game. We will see. Bringing in a TE transfer. Didn’t get any in this class. 7 on the roster. 2 seniors, 1 junior, 2 sophomores, 2 freshman. So I am not sure there is gonna be a step up for the TE in the passing game. Gonna be interesting to see eh as to what this Mighty Buff O is really gonna look like.

      If the Oline is better………………….much better………..
      And the Scheme is better………………..much better
      And if the play calling is better…………..much better
      And the the running game is better…………..much better
      And if Montez keeps his mouth closed and works at it and has time to throw, with the better oline, and the scheme is better, and the play calling is better and the running game is better, with the wide receiver talent the Mighty Buffs will set all types of passing records.

      And that will be the Mighty Buffs offense.

      Go Buffs

      Note: Tight ends……………………?????…………….Gotta get em in the game man.

      1. I can visualize

        5wr, 2 te, 2 tackles, 1 center, 1 qb
        wr……..wr…………………te….tackle….center….tackle…te…………..wr………wr……..wr
        ……………………………………………………..qb

        Hey it could work

        1. VK, under the old regime if they lined up as you suggest (I do like the imagination from you) they probably would have run Montez between the center and the tackle for a minus 1 yd. loss.

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