It doesn't take long to notice Laviska Shenault on the practice field.

Colorado's sophomore receiver is an impressive young man physically, at 6-feet, 2 inches tall and 220 pounds. He's one of the strongest players on the team, as well as one of the fastest.

"He's a special athlete, as far as how he's built, strength and speed," CU co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini said.

While Shenault appears to have star potential, he has yet to completely show it on game days. Playing behind several talented seniors last year, Shenault was used sparingly and caught just seven passes for 168 yards.

Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre and the Buffs will need young, unproven talent to step up this season.
Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre and the Buffs will need young, unproven talent to step up this season. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

For the Buffs (5-7, 2-7 Pac-12 in 2017) to have a better season, however, they will lean on Shenault and several other young, unproven players. National pundits aren't expecting much out of the Buffs, but it might be because this team is so full of under-the-radar players, such as Shenault.

"I sure hope so," head coach Mike MacIntyre said when asked if the Buffs have a lot of unknown talent. "We do have some really good athletes out there. Our coaches are doing a great job. They just have to get the learning curve on everything. The young men that came in here in January, I feel good about those guys being able to step in Day 1 and play really well.

"We have some good athletes out there. Now we just have to do it in the games and make the plays."


The Buffs will depend heavily on veterans such as quarterback Steven Montez, receiver Jay McIntyre, linebackers Rick Gamboa and Drew Lewis and safety Evan Worthington. Yet, it might be those under the radar players that make the biggest difference.

At receiver, the Buffs lost three talented seniors to graduation, but might actually be better than they've been in years. Shenault, seniors Juwann Winfree and Kabion Ento, junior Tony Brown, sophomore KD Nixon and others are extremely talented players, but they haven't had much of an opportunity to shine.

"They haven't all played a bunch yet, so I think the jury is still out," coach MacIntyre said. "They have talent, but there's a difference in saying it and doing it. They've got to keep working at it hard."

The Buffs need young, unproven talent to step up in other areas, too.

On the offensive line, Colby Pursell is expected to start at center and William Sherman is battling for a starting role at guard; both are redshirt freshmen.

At running back, the Buffs have graduate transfer Travon McMillian, who played well at Virginia Tech, but hasn't proven himself at CU yet. They also have young talent, such as freshman Alex Fontenot.

On defense, the Buffs are expecting good things from several new and young players.

On the line, junior college transfer Mustafa Johnson, redshirt freshman Terrance Lang and true freshman Israel Antwine have great potential. At linebacker, Nate Landman, Carson Wells, Alex Tchangam and others have played little or not at all at CU, but could fill significant roles this year.

Then, at corner, the Buffs are excited about redshirt freshman Chris Miller and junior college transfer Delrick Abrams, Jr., but neither has played a game for the Buffs.

The fact that so many new and young players could play prominent roles is a good sign for the Buffs, Chiaverini said.

"I think we've done a really good job of recruiting the last couple of years and you can see that on the field," he said.

It also leaves many of the Buffs going into the season with a lot to prove. That may be why CU has been a bit reserved in talking about its expectations for this year. The confidence is there, but the Buffs know they need to walk before they talk.

"The list goes on and on," Chiaverini said, referring to the players that have potential to shine. "Now it's our job as coaches to get them going and doing the right things."

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