Like a lot of the young players on the Colorado football team, Dimitri Stanley came away from this season believing he took another step forward as a player.
The redshirt freshman receiver also knows there’s plenty more steps he can take.
Stanley finished this season fourth on the team in catches (29) and receiving yards (312), while scoring two touchdowns. He also rushed for 14 yards and gained 47 yards on eight punt returns.
“I think it went pretty well,” he said of his first full season of college football. “I think I have a lot to work on over the offseason, but a lot of growth that can definitely be made for me and that I plan to make.”
A four-star recruit coming out of Cherry Creek High School, where he caught 81 passes for 1,192 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior, Stanley has steadily worked his way up the ladder at CU.
In 2018, he took advantage of a new NCAA rule that allows players to compete in up to four games and maintain a redshirt. He played in three games in 2018 and caught six passes for 43 yards.
This season, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Stanley played in all 12 games and started eight as a slot receiver. He caught at least one pass in 11 games.
Stanley is hoping for more production next year, but also hopes to step up as a leader. The Buffs are losing their top two receivers – junior Laviska Shenault has declared for the NFL Draft and senior Tony Brown is graduating – as well as senior quarterback Steven Montez, and could lean on Stanley as a leader.
“I’m definitely ready to step in as a leader on this team,” Stanley said. “There’s some stuff that I’ve got to mature in, whether it’s being a minute late to meetings or something like that. Just some stuff I’ve got to clean up, just so that even these younger dudes that come in next year can look up to me the way I look up to these older dudes right now.”
Just getting started
Sophomore running back Alex Fontenot is also aiming for better in the future.
Named the Buffs’ most improved player on offense, Fontenot rushed for 874 yards and five touchdowns while also catching 27 passes for 122 yards in 11 games. He hit the 100-yard mark three times and rushed for at least 71 yards seven times.
“Every game I feel like I don’t do that good and I get all these texts saying I did great,” he said. “I just have a high standard for myself, so I feel like I could have done way better this year than what I showed.”
Path to stardom?
Safety Mark Perry was one of the most highly touted recruits of CU’s 2019 class. He took a while to get comfortable with the Buffs’ defense, as he didn’t play the first three games.
By season’s end, Perry was a key part of the defense. He often played as a nickel and practiced at Star, where he learned under senior Davion Taylor.
“I could see him being a great (defensive back),” Taylor said. “I always tell him I could see him going to the NFL probably his junior year, because he’s improved so much this year. Me and him are so close, because he’s my roommate. We talk all the time. To see him grow as a person and as a football player, I could see a bright future ahead for him.”
Perry, who played in nine games including one as a starter, finished with 12 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups and six third-down stops.
In CU’s official stats, linebacker Nate Landman finished the season with 137 tackles, the most by any Buffs’ player since Jordon Dizon’s 160 tackles in 2007.
Landman finished with 112 solo tackles, which is the second-best single season total in CU history. Only Dizon had more, with 120 in 2007.
Landman played in a team-high 96.3 percent of the defensive snaps (785 of 815). That’s a dramatic increase over 2018, when he played 70.8 percent of the snaps. In 2018, he was ejected twice for targeting, which limited his plays, but was also often taken off the field on third downs.
On Monday, Justin Schafer, a receiver at Tesoro High School in California, announced that he has committed to CU for the 2020 class as a preferred walk-on. He caught 80 passes for 1,091 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior this year. … Former South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley announced Monday he is going to Utah as a graduate transfer. A three-year starter at South Carolina, Bentley suffered a season-ending injury in the opener this year. He threw for 7,527 yards and 55 touchdowns at South Carolina.