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.

The true sophomore caught two passes for 38 yards, turning both into touchdowns. The first came on a pinpoint pass from Steven Montez down the right sideline.

On the second touchdown, Shenault caught a short pass to the right, and then flashed his short-area quickness. She shed a tackle from Nick Fisher, avoided Davion Taylor flying in for a tackle and then out-raced everybody for the final 11 yards to the end zone.

"Laviska Shenault has been impressive all spring and he showed it again today," 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."

Tony Brown led all receivers with five catches and 58 yards. All four of Juwann Winfree's catches (for 40 total yards) went for first downs.

Jones on track

Inside linebacker Akil Jones, a redshirt sophomore, wound up dealing with a sports hernia late last season, head coach Mike MacIntyre said, but he's healthy again and playing well.


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Jones was named the team's most improved linebacker this spring and had a pair of tackles Saturday.

"It is really big," MacIntyre said of Jones' spring. "Akil was doing really well last year for us and he ended up having a sports hernia at the end of the year. He's come back this spring on fire, like he was in fall camp. I trust Akil being out there now. He's very explosive and fast. I feel like we have four guys now that can do it."

Colorado’s Javier Edwars and Wlliam Sherman battle during a drill on Saturday.
Colorado's Javier Edwars and Wlliam Sherman battle during a drill on Saturday. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

Seniors Rick Gamboa and Drew Lewis are slated to start, while sophomore Nate Landman and Jones are likely the top backups.

Versatility up front

The Buffs are still shuffling linemen, in part because of injuries, but they continue to feel good about the development of their youngsters. That includes redshirt freshman William Sherman, a 6-foot-3, 280-pounder who lined up at left guard with the first team Saturday and also played tackle.

"He has the versatility to do both (guard and tackle)," MacIntyre said. "He has long arms, he's really athletic. He played tackle in high school, but height wise, he's probably a better fit in the long term at guard. He's a guy that could be a utility lineman for us and be able to do it well."

Senior right tackle Josh Kaiser and junior left guard Brett Tonz, who have worked with the first team throughout spring, sat out of Saturday's scrimmage. That opened the door for freshman Jake Moretti and Sherman to get some quality playing time.

Redshirt freshman Colby Pursell started at center, while junior Dillon Middlemiss started at right guard.

"This spring, we've made a lot of progress," Chiaverini said of the line. "We've done a good job of upgrading the talent in that room."

Team awards

The Buffs handed out their annual spring awards Saturday, as determined by the coaches.

Gamboa and Kaiser shared the Eddie Crowder Award for outstanding leadership.

On offense, Alex Fontenot was named the most improved back; Shenault the most improved receiver; and Aaron Haigler and Tonz the most improved linemen.

Defensively, Chris Miller was named the most improved in the secondary; Jones the most improved linebacker; and Chris Mulumba the most improved lineman.

Snapper J.T. Bale was the most improved special teams player. Pursell was honored for outstanding work ethic; Landman for outstanding toughness; and defensive lineman Jase Franke for outstanding academics.

Notable

Safety Evan Worthington (concussion) joined Kaiser and Tonz in not participating in the spring game. ... Redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Lytle completed 9-of-13 passes for 81 yards and led the Buffs to a pair of field goals. Sophomore Sam Noyer was just 1-for-4 for 4 yards. ... Starting kicker James Stefanou hit the upright on a 47-yard field goal attempt and then missed a 48-yarder wide right, but came back to hit a pair of kicks. Davis Price was 3-for-3, from 36, 28 and 37 yards. ... Several former Buffs, including Joel Klatt, Phillip Lindsay and Isaiah Oliver, were in attendance. Another former Buff, Jeremy Bloom, was the analyst for the Pac-12 Networks' coverage of the practice.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33