Three games into his sophomore year, Colorado's Laviska Shenault has earned a lot of national attention, with player of the week awards and, on Tuesday, being added to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award.
So far, however, opposing defenses haven't had a particular player shadowing the star receiver.
"Not yet," Shenault said.
That could change as the Buffaloes (3-0) head into Pac-12 Conference play, beginning Friday night against UCLA (0-3), but it won't be easy to shadow the dynamic Shenault.
The nation's leader in receiving yards (151.7) and catches (8.7) per game, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Shenault is a matchup problem because of his talent and versatility.
Shenault has already lined up as an outside receiver, slot receiver, H-back, tailback and wildcat quarterback. In addition to his 26 catches for 455 yards and three touchdowns, he's rushed three times for 10 yards and a touchdown.
"It's definitely a fun challenge because it's opened up windows for me," he said. "I do anything (the coaches) ask for, so it's definitely fun. The opposing team never knows where I'm going to be."
Credit co-offensive coordinators Darrin Chiaverini and Klayton Adams for that, as they've capitalized on Shenault's unique skills.
"Viska understands football and is very bright, and he can move around to different spots," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "When we move him around, he can be a decoy, which opens up another guy. Our quarterback completely understands that and Chev has done a great job of utilizing that with him."
Junior quarterback Steven Montez has a lot of weapons on his side, but, like most people who have watched the Buffs this year, has marveled at Shenault's performance.
"I get real excited every time Laviska's got the opportunity to catch the ball and get a fly sweep or any of that stuff," Montez said. "I know any time the ball is in Laviska's hands, he's going to more than likely make a play with it. Any time we can get the ball into No. 2's hands, it's going to be good news for us."
Shenault certainly hopes that's the case, but as the spotlight shines brighter, he's not changing his approach to the game.
"I'm not used to (the attention), but I like the pressure, so I'm just going to remain humble and keep playing the way I'm playing," he said. "Hopefully everything keeps playing out right."
Luckily for Shenault, he comes into this week healthy. He injured his shoulder during a Sept. 8 win at Nebraska and played through the pain the next week against New Hampshire. After a bye week, though, he said, "I'm feeling way better and just ready to play."
Depth at inside backer
Sophomore linebacker Akil Jones has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, but has practiced this week and the Buffs are hopeful he'll be ready to play against UCLA.
Rick Gamboa and Nate Landman remain the starters inside, but a healthy Jones gives the Buffs some depth at the position.
With Jones out, redshirt freshman Jon Van Diest received more reps in practice, and MacIntyre said, "That's helped Jonathan come on, too."
The Buffs are hopeful senior punter Alex Kinney can return this season from a broken collarbone. Kinney was injured against Nebraska, and it was initially believed he would miss the rest of the season.
"Everything is progressing really well," MacIntyre said Tuesday. "He's moving his arms around. We just have to make sure he's OK and cleared to go out."
MacIntyre said Kinney is already catching footballs that are snapped, but he still needs to show he can catch snaps that are high or low or off to the side.
"We're just going to keep meeting with the doctors and see how it goes," MacIntyre said. "He's recovering well and doing well. He has a positive attitude."
Junior Davis Price will continue to fill Kinney's role at punter. Price, who is also the kickoff specialist, has averaged 39.6 yards on nine punts.
CU is seeking its first 4-0 start since a 5-0 start in 1998. ... UCLA is 3-1 in the last four meetings, but the point differential is just one: 112-111 in favor of the Bruins. ... On Friday, CU will host a "Be The Match" night, with 4,000 students getting T-shirts for the program, which matches bone marrow donors to those in need.