WR: KD Nixon, Dimitri Stanley, Daniel Arias, Brenden Rice, La’Vontae Shenault, Jaylon Jackson, Maurice Bell, Chris Carpenter, Montana Lemonious-Crag, Keith Miller III
The Colorado Buffaloes have had two consistent attributes from 2010 - 2020. They lost a lot of football games and had great wide receivers. From Scotty McKnight to Paul Richardson to Nelson Spruce to the 2016 hydra to Laviska Shenault, there have been studs out wide for a rotating cast of QBs to throw to. A lot of them get drafted, and even if they don’t, they shine brightly in college.
For the latter half of the decade, the man leading these players has been Darrin Chiaverini. The WR coach turned OC turned back to WR coach turned BACK to OC bleeds black and gold, and the Forever Buff loves to recruit players that will do the same. Now, under the tutelage of head coach Karl Dorrell, who was his WR coach in Boulder, this unit of wideouts is recovering after losing a complete stud in Laviska Shenault. There is no replacing Laviska. But there is still production and plenty of talent that can get on the field.
If Coach Chiv’s offense is anything like his first effort in 2018, there will be at least three WRs on the field on every play. Knowing that, I will try to do what I can to break players into the “boundary” receivers, X and Y, and slot receivers, or Z receivers. There will be movement between these roles, and there may be 4 wideouts on the field at any given time, so bear with me.
There are two wide receivers on this team that have locked their snaps in already. One of them is KD Nixon. Nixon flirted with the NFL before the pandemic hit, and now he is back as the undisputed leader in his senior year. KD has always had flash, and his consistent production will be needed in this transition. He is a short boundary receiver, but that has not stopped him before. Nixon is unbelievably shifty, and his speed allows him to separate. He can take any ball you throw him past the sticks. He can also step inside to that slot receiver role relatively easily, and he might even be used in the backfield to catch some swing passes or quick reverses. His quickness really lets him do a lot.
The man who will spend most of his time in the slot is Dimitri Stanley. The Buff legacy and Colorado native really came up big for them last year. He is naturally talented, and while he’s still a little skinnier than I’d like to see, he has really matured into his game in college. Stanley is just smooth on the field, and he separates very quickly from defenders. If you can get open early, you will get the ball. Dimitri doesn’t have one standout trait, except his hands; he is just pretty good at everything. He’s pretty fast, pretty quick, pretty strong, and pretty tall. But he will catch everything you throw at him. I really expect a big year out of Stanley as a reliable option for a new quarterback.
This last spot is where we get into trouble prognosticating. Theoretically, this boundary receiver will go a bigger target. Daniel Arias certainly fits the bill there at 6’4 and over 200 pounds. He is an exciting prospect, but he really needs to nail down the mental part of the game. If he is able to grasp this offense, Arias can take the reins of this position.
If Arias struggles, my favorite option here is Maurice Bell. I’ve been banging the drum for Bell since he signed, and he has patiently waiting behind some serious talent. He’s super smooth, he can break one, and Maurice gets open in multiple ways. Bell works the middle of the field to perfection. We haven’t seen much from him, but I just love how smooth and fluid he is on the field.
After these names, we have quite a bit of question marks, but a lot of them are really exciting. Jaylon Jackson has flashed when he’s healthy, and his speed is very exciting. I would expect him to play spotty snaps at the very least. Jackson is a potential X-factor this year. We don’t know much about La’Vontae Shenault, but he’s lean, lanky, and super athletic. He’s different that his brother in terms of play style, but his talent has been turning heads in Boulder. Brenden Rice is a physical freak that will force his way onto the field, and soon. Chris Carpenter has the fastest wheels on the team and he will play on special team at the very least. Montana Lemonious-Craig is a jump ball KING who can high point anything and get behind the defense. Finally, Keith Miller is a gigantic target and runs very smoothly for a 6’5 wide receiver. All of these freshmen are crazy athletic and any one of them could break out this year.
In short, this group has no shortage of talent. The cupboards are stacked, but they are missing a star. This year, the field will be the proving grounds for playing time, because there are a lot of players who deserve it but not that many spots. Let the competition begin!