Before the Colorado football team played a game or even held a practice this season, Laviska Shenault knew there was a good chance he was preparing for his final season with the Buffaloes.
Walking out of Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday night, the sensational junior receiver wasn’t ready to officially declare he’s not coming back for his senior year, but chances are that CU’s 45-15 loss to Utah was his final college football game.
“Most likely,” he said. “Most likely I’m out, but I’m going to sit down and talk to my mom and my coaches. At this point, I just have to be smart and I’ve got to make a long-term decision for me. I just have to make a smart decision for myself. So we’ll see.”
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Shenault came into the season projected as a first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft if he skipped his senior season. Despite dealing with injuries and not putting up the numbers many expected, his draft status hasn’t changed much. Even in a class potentially loaded with exceptional receivers, Shenault is still projected as a first-round pick in most mock drafts.
Blessed with exceptional size, strength and speed, Shenault is sure to be coveted by NFL teams when the draft rolls around in April.
“Oh yeah, I feel like I’m ready,” he said. “(In the NFL), I’ll have more time to take care of my body, more time to do this and that. I think I’m ready. I have a lot of bumps and bruises, but yeah, I don’t run from contact. When I leave that field, everybody’s going to know who No. 2 is.”
If he is, in fact, done at CU, Shenault left quite an impression on the Buffs and their opponents. During the last two seasons, when Shenault was on the field, the opposition knew where he was at all times – and they still couldn’t stop him very often.
Shenault is eighth in CU history in career receptions (149), 11th in receiving yards (1,943) and 25th in yards from scrimmage (2,223). He had almost all of that production in two seasons after playing sparingly as a true freshman in 2017.
A preseason All-American candidate by most publications this season, he won’t earn postseason honors, but still fought through injuries to post 56 catches for 764 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He tied with senior Tony Brown for the team lead in receptions and led the team in receiving yards.
Shenault also made an impression on his teammates, who marveled at his work ethic and competitiveness, despite playing hurt for most of the past year and a half.
“I just learned (from Shenault) to fight through adversity,” freshman receiver Dimitri Stanley said. “That dude has been through so many trials and tribulations. The way he’s fought through injuries, through all these different things and grown as a player; seeing him from last year to this year and how he’s become more of a leader, it’s definitely something that I aspire to be and someone who I look up to, for sure.”
While he wasn’t ready to say he’s for sure skipping his senior year, Shenault did leave the stadium on Saturday with excitement about CU’s future – with or without him.
“I think the foundation is being set,” he said. “If you want to put in some good work and get a good coach, then this is the place to be. I feel like they are going to be very, very, very, very good soon and especially under coach Tuck. He knows what he’s doing.”
So does Shenault, who has put himself in position to realize his NFL dream in the next few months – if he officially decides to take that path.
“I’m excited, blessed, honored,” he said. “I’m just ready. I’m going to miss this team, though. We’ll see (about the NFL).
“I’m ready, though, for sure.”