Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
One of the best
1. Nelson Spruce: 294
2. Scotty McKnight: 215
3. Shay Fields: 189
4. Michael Westbrook: 167
5. Paul Richardson: 156
Career receiving yards
1. Nelson Spruce: 3,347
2. Shay Fields: 2,548
2. Michael Westbrook: 2,548
4. Rae Carruth: 2,540
5. Scotty McKnight: 2,521
Career TD receptions
1. Nelson Spruce: 23
2. Scotty McKnight: 22
3. Shay Fields: 21
3. Paul Richardson: 21
5. Rae Carruth: 20
5. Derek McCoy: 20
Year by year
Receiving numbers for Colorado’s Shay Fields during his career:
2014: 50 catches, 486 yards, 4 TD
2015: 42 catches, 598 yards, 4 TD
2016: 52 catches, 845 yards, 9 TD
2017: 45 catches, 619 yards, 4 TD
Total: 189 catches, 2,548 yards, 21 TD
The first time Shay Fields played in a Colorado uniform, he served notice that great things were in store.
As an 18-year-old true freshman in 2014, Fields started and caught eight passes for 46 yards in CU’s season opener against Colorado State that year. That tied the CU record for most receptions in a career debut — a mark set by Scotty McKnight in 2007 and tied by Nelson Spruce in 2012.
“I kinda knew I was going to have a good career; I just had to put in the work first,” he said this week as he and CU prepare for Saturday’s home finale against No. 15 Southern California. “I put in the work that fall when I came in. Just to see my progress now, it’s a beautiful thing to know that I’ve actually put in a lot of work. But I still have much more to go.”
Now, as a 21-year-old senior, Fields has just two regular season games left in a career that’s been one of the best in program history.
Spruce and McKnight are the only players in CU history with more catches than Fields, who comes into the final two games among the top three in career receptions, yards and touchdowns.
“Me and my dad, we keep track after every game,” Fields said of where he stands on the career charts. “He calls me and he said I have two more (touchdowns) to tie Nelson.
“That doesn’t mean anything without a win, though.”
Unfortunately for Fields and the Buffs (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12), the wins haven’t come as often this year as they did a year ago. And, Fields — while on track for a career high in catches — hasn’t had the type of senior year he wanted.
Still, it’s been quite a career for Fields, who came to CU as a highly touted recruit from Bellflower, Calif., where he caught 82 passes for 1,617 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior at St. John Bosco. He was the first four-star player to sign with CU under head coach Mike MacIntyre.
“I’ve really enjoyed coaching Shay,” MacIntyre said. “I’ve enjoyed watching Shay grow up. He’s right on the brink of graduating. I’m going to be sad watching him play his last game here at Folsom Field. Also, at the same time, I remember so many joyous moments in there, but also on the practice fields, in the meeting rooms, on the trips and his sense of humor.
“I’ll miss Shay in a lot of different ways just besides the football player.”
As a player, Fields quickly became the speedy deep threat to replace Richardson, now with the Seattle Seahawks. During his time at CU, Richardson set a school record with 13 career plays of 50 yards or more. With two games left, Fields is second, with 11.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Fields was the perfect complement to Spruce in his first two years in Boulder. From 2014-15, Spruce had 195 catches and Fields added 92.
During the past two years, Fields has been part of a stellar trio that includes fellow seniors Bryce Bobo and Devin Ross. Together, they have 290 catches in the past two seasons.
“Just seeing us all grow and work, it’s great,” he said. “You get that sense of everybody’s put in the time that they needed; now we just have to win games.”
The next opportunity comes Saturday against a team that Fields rooted for as a kid in Los Angeles. Fields would love to help CU earn its sixth win and achieve bowl eligibility, and he’d love be a part of CU’s first-ever win against the Trojans.
He would also love to walk off Folsom Field for the final time as a winner.
“It means everything,” he said of the upcoming Senior Day. “I bleed black and gold. Watching those senior guys go through theirs (in 2014) and then the next year and the next year after that, you get that feeling like it’s coming up on you.
“It’s finally here and it’s going to hurt not playing in Folsom again, but it’s also an amazing feeling (to have been a Buff).”