Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Andy Cross / The Denver Post
As is widely known among Colorado football fans, Darrin Chiaverini hit the ground running on the recruiting trail when he returned to his alma mater following the 2015 season.
Among the handful of duties Chiaverini assumed on head coach Mike MacIntyre’s staff was that of the Buffaloes’ recruiting coordinator. Chiaverini had a detailed plan to bolster the talent on the Buffs’ roster, a plan that, on paper, has paid dividends with the past two recruiting classes.
One plan Chiaverini didn’t necessarily make, however, has nonetheless worked out well for CU with the arrival this fall of receivers KD Nixon and Laviska Shenault.
“I actually recruited them separately, but it ended up like you’re recruiting both of them,” Chiaverini said. “When I was at Texas Tech I was recruiting both of them. And then when I made the move to Colorado I knew I wanted both of those guys. I probably recruited them both for two years. It was a long process but I’m glad we got them. They’re talented. They know how to be coached hard. They know how to come out and practice hard. They’ve got great futures ahead of them.”
The pedigree Chiaverini cites stems from the training Nixon and Shenault received at DeSoto High School in Texas, a football powerhouse that also produced Denver Broncos star Von Miller. Nixon and Shenault were standout receivers at DeSoto — they combined for 115 receptions and 1,973 receiving yards during their senior season — but the idea they might continue tormenting defenses together at the next level was, like Chiaverini’s plan, something that evolved as the recruiting process continued.
“Going into our senior year we both realized that we’d work really well together,” Nixon said. “We came to a point where it seemed right. We took advantage of it and hoped good things would come to us. The recruiting part is hard, we wanted to be different. We want to be legendary. We told CU that we came to CU for a reason.”
Despite the glut of veteran receivers greeting Nixon and Shenault upon their arrival within the CU program, both players have shown flashes that should make Buffs fans more comfortable with the idea of life after Bryce Bobo, Devin Ross, and Shay Fields — all seniors who have collected over 100 receptions in their careers.
Shenault made a bit of CU history in just his second game in a Buffs uniform, scooping up a fumbled punt return against Texas State and advancing it 55 yards for a touchdown. He is believed to be the 15th CU player to score a touchdown on his first touch. Shenault also has recorded four receptions for 89 yards, including a 42-yard grab Saturday at UCLA that set up a James Stefanou field goal in the second quarter.
Nixon also earned his first action against Texas State, getting his first reception and first rushing attempt in the same game. Along the way, having one of your childhood friends along for the identical ride has helped smooth the transition to college life and the speed of Division I football.
“I’ve got the advantage,” Nixon said. “We both know each other. That’s my roommate. We do everything together. We play together. We learn together. We go to classes together. I don’t know how other freshmen do it because they don’t have this great advantage that we do, but we’re blessed to have the advantage we have.”