CU Buffs football notes: Laviska Shenault focused on wins, getting healthy

Colorado junior receiver not ready to announce decision on whether or not to declare for NFL Draft

Cliff Grassmick/Staff photographer
Colorado’s Laviska Shenault is focused on winning and getting healthy right now.

All season, it’s been expected that Laviska Shenault would make this his last year of college football.

If Colorado’s star receiver, who is a junior, has made the decision to declare for the 2020 NFL Draft, however, he’s not ready to make that public.

“Yeah, I have (thought about it), but we’re just going to focus on playing this next game,” Shenault said on Tuesday. “We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see by the end of the season. Everybody will know the decision and my choice.”

For now, Shenault and the Buffs (4-6, 2-5 Pac-12) are focused on the home finale against Washington (6-4, 3-4) on Saturday at Folsom Field (8:10 p.m., TV: ESPN).

Coming off a bye week, the Buffs have rested a bit and that’s a good thing for Shenault, who has battled bumps and bruises – or worse – throughout the season.

“It’s been frustrating,” said Shenault, who has 45 catches for 621 yards and three touchdowns, along with 119 yards rushing yards and two scores, in nine games. “Like I’ve always said, it’s hard to not do what you want to do; not do what you love to do; and not do what you’ve been doing all your life. It’s definitely hard, and it’s hard not being able to help my team in any possible way.”

In CU’s last game, a 16-13 win against Stanford on Nov. 9, Shenault left briefly with a knee injury. Add that to the core muscle injury that’s bothered him and other bumps and bruises and it made for good timing for a bye week.

“Very beneficial,” he said of the bye. “I didn’t have to do much; just trying to get to 100 (percent). That’s been the hardest thing to do this year.

“It’s football, so I just deal with the pain and keep moving.”

Home cookin’

While the Buffs are just 2-3 at home, all five games have been entertaining, down to the wire contests decided by a total of 22 points.

CU has also had two sellout crowds and near capacity in each game.

“It’s been very fun,” Shenault said of the atmosphere at home. “The fans have been very different this year. They bring the energy every game and they definitely help us.”

Ticket sales are slow this week, in part because of the start of the Thanksgiving holiday, but quarterback Steven Montez echoed Shenault’s feelings about the fans this season.

“We’ve had a fantastic showing for every single home game that we’ve had,” Montez said. “Even the away games we’ve definitely had some fans there coming out and supporting. I’m just extremely thankful for the fans that come out and support us and cheer us on every week when we’re at home. It just really means a lot to us. … It’s only right that we try to come out there and pay them back by playing good football and hopefully executing at a high level.”

First-year head coach Mel Tucker said it’s been enjoyable coaching in Folsom this season, as it reminds him of his only previous visit, as a player for Wisconsin on Sept. 17, 1994. CU had 53,457 fans in the stands that day for a 55-17 victory.

“This is one of the great places in college football to play and to coach,” he said.

Strong effort

During his weekly press conference with Washington media, Huskies head coach Chris Petersen was complimentary of the effort he sees out of CU each week.

“Any time there’s a coaching change, it takes, most times, a minute to get everybody on the same page, but the one thing that jumps out to me is those guys play hard, like every game,” Petersen said. “You hear a team’s record and you look at it and you think something and then you put the tape on and you’re like, ‘Oh this is different than you think.’ That’s probably the one thing that’s really grabbed my attention. I think coach Tucker has done a nice job of getting those guys to play inspired.”

In laying the foundation of his program, Tucker has often stated he wants a team that does just that: plays hard all the time.

“Relentless effort is a part of our culture; it’s what we talk about every day,” Tucker said. “Coming from coach Petersen, that’s a strong compliment because he knows all about playing hard and playing with effort and playing with toughness because that’s what his teams are all about.”


Kicker James Stefanou, who missed the Stanford game, is slated for postseason hip surgery. He was in uniform for the Stanford game in case of emergency, but is not likely to kick again this season.  … CU has played Washington six times in Boulder and come away with a victory just once, 20-14 during the national title season of 1990. Washington has won in its last four trips to Folsom Field, including 3-0 since CU joined the Pac-12.