Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Andy Cross / The Denver Post
Generally, when the Colorado football team puts coaches or players on the podium to talk to the media, they go alone.
This week, as the Buffaloes prepared for Saturday’s visit to Nebraska, receivers KD Nixon and Laviska Shenault stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the cameras and microphones.
Of course they did.
Nixon and Shenault, both true sophomores for the Buffaloes, have been side by side for years, since junior high and through their careers at DeSoto (Texas) High School.
Last Friday, they jumped into the spotlight together with the Buffs.
“We feed off each other,” Nixon said. “We’ve been like this since high school, since middle school.”
Shenault was the unquestioned star of the 45-13 rout of Colorado State, hauling in 11 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown, but Nixon was sensational, as well, with six catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.
It was just the third time in the past nine seasons that CU had two 100-yard receivers in the same game.
“I’m not going to say it’s what I expected,” Shenault said of his monster numbers, “but I expected myself to go out there and do big things.”
There could be a lot of big things in store for Nixon and Shenault, who are so talented that the coaching staff created a personnel package called, “DeSoto,” because it includes the pair.
What makes them so intriguing is that they complement each other so well.
Shenault is a freak athlete at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, with lightning speed and remarkable strength. Nixon is a powerful and speedy 5-foot-8, 185 pounds.
In media settings, Shenault is reserved, while Nixon could talk for days — which is probably why the two did their media session together.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre smiled when asked about the contrast in their personalities.
“KD is definitely outgoing,” MacIntyre said, “but Viska is not as shy as you think he is.”
Nixon acknowledged the difference in their public personalities, but said, “We’re just two different people. He’s the silent killer; I’m going to talk trash. At the end of the day on game day, we’re both going to talk trash. That’s what I like.”
As long as they back it up, and so far they have. While Friday’s win against CSU was their coming out party, Nixon and Shenault have been impressive since getting to Boulder a year ago. They just had to wait their turn, as the Buffs featured a trio of senior receivers in 2017.
Shenault flashed his potential last year, catching seven passes for 168 yards, while Nixon had just five touches on offense (two catches for 17 yards, three rushes for 20 yards).
This offseason, co-offensive coordinators Darrin Chiaverini and Klayton Adams knew the type of talent they had in Shenault and Nixon, but also with their other receivers. Even without the DeSoto duo, the Buffs are loaded at receiver with Jay MacIntyre, Juwann Winfree, Kabion Ento and Tony Brown.
The versatility of Nixon and, especially, Shenault stood out, though.
“There’s a lot of things Viska can do,” MacIntyre said, “so we felt like we needed him on the field all the time and utilize him in all different spots for our football team, which would make it hard for (defenses) to key on him and give us versatility within one package of players out there.
“Now you can play fast and you can do a lot of different things.”
Nixon and Shenault were the stars against the Rams, and that makes them important going into Saturday. They could have big games again, or they might get so much attention from the Cornhuskers’ defense that it frees up others.
“There’s targets everywhere,” Shenault said. “That’s the good thing about our (receiving) corps this year. It’s extremely fun and we’re just blessed to be able to have different targets everywhere and be able to go out and play.”
Nixon and Shenault are used to being stars — they combined for 103 catches for 1,821 yards and 20 TDs as seniors with a DeSoto team that went 16-0 — but it’s hard work that got them there. And, it’s hard work that still motives them and all the receivers.
“Being in the receiving room, there’s a lot of competitive natures,” Nixon said. “We continue to push each other and no matter who has the best day, who has the best game, we’re going to come back to practice the next week and act like nothing happened.”
Something big happened last week, though, providing some anticipation for the future of CU’s offense.
“Each week we’ll change up things and different tweaks with (the offense), but I’m excited about the way we’re headed with that,” MacIntyre said.