The Colorado Buffaloes are losing one of the best all-around athletes to ever step foot onto Folsom Field. Junior wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. announced that he will forgo his final year of eligibility and declare for April’s NFL Draft.
The announcement expected by many came after Colorado’s season ended with a 5-7 record, just one win shy of a bowl bid — the same record they had in all three years Shenault played in Boulder.
It’s easy to say that the Buffs could have bowled if they played him more in 2017 — he had just 8 touches despite making big plays whenever he was called upon — but CU opted to use struggling seniors instead. Then in 2018, it’s widely believed Colorado would have made a bowl if he didn’t get injured midway through the season.
Shenault came to Boulder along with teammate K.D. Nixon. The duo helped DeSoto win a 6A Texas State championship in 2017. Shenault was a 6-foot-2, 220-pound tight end in high school until his senior year. When Buffs receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini noticed him, he was offered a scholarship. Soon enough, Shenault blew up and had offers from several schools including Alabama, but he stuck with Colorado.
Once regarded as a legitimate Heisman contender, Shenault led the nation with 10.4 yards per attempt and 149.5 yards per game through the first half of his sophomore season. He was named a consensus mid-season first-team All-American before missing three games with a foot injury suffered against USC on Oct. 13.
After his breakout sophomore season, he had massive expectations in 2019. After a slow start and dealing with injuries, Shenault finished with 56 catches, 726 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns, all team highs.
Shenault ends his CU career with eight 100-yard receiving game in 19 career starts. He leaves CU with 145 receptions (8th all-time) and 1,900 receiving yards (11th all-time). Adding in his wildcat running ability, Shenault had a total of 2,223 yards from scrimmage and 17 touchdowns.
Most NFL mock drafts show Shenault as a mid-to-late first round pick. In normal drafts he would be a candidate for a top 10 pick, but this 2020 receiver class is stacked. Shenault, along with Alabama's Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb and Clemson's Tee Higgins are all expected to selected in the top 45 picks.
Colorado hasn’t had a player go in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2011, when the Buffs had two players selected. The New England Patriots took offensive lineman Nate Solder with the 17th overall pick; and the Baltimore Ravens picked cornerback Jimmy Smith with the 27th pick. It was the sixth time since 1980 that CU had two first rounders in the same draft class.