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CU Buffs’ KD Nixon to return for senior year

Junior receiver finished third on the team this year in receptions

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Colorado’s KD Nixon, right, caught 35 passes for 465 yards and three touchdowns in 2019.
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Upon further review, KD Nixon wants one more year at Colorado.

On Thursday, the Buffaloes’ junior receiver announced that he has decided to stay in Boulder for his senior season. Last week, he announced he would skip his senior year and enter the NFL Draft.

“After thoughtful evaluation and conversations with (head coach Mel) Tucker and others about my future in football – and beyond, I have decided to continue my college football career at Colorado, earn my degree and declare for the NFL Draft in 2021,” Nixon said in a statement released by CU. “I look forward to contributing to the Buffaloes next season and making a difference for our team.”

The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Nixon finished third on the team this year in receptions (35), receiving yards (465) and receiving touchdowns (three). He also averaged 23.4 yards on 16 kickoff returns, rushed for 19 yards on five carries, gained 10 yards on two punt returns and threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Dimitri Stanley on his only career pass.

Nixon caught 52 passes for 636 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. His yards per catch improved this year, from 12.2 in 2018 to 13.3.

He currently ranks 24th in school history in receiving yards (1,118) and 25th in catches (89).

In addition to his production, Nixon has grown as a leader. At the postseason team banquet, Nixon and linebacker Davion Taylor shared the Eddie Crowder Award for outstanding team leadership.

“Our goal is not only to build a championship-winning team and culture but also to prepare our players for life,” Tucker said. “Our entire team is excited that KD has decided to continue his education and play for the Buffaloes his senior year. We look forward to him being a difference maker on and off of the field.”

Nixon had planned to follow long-time friend Laviska Shenault to the NFL. After being teammates at DeSoto (Tex.) High School, Nixon and Shenault came to CU together in 2017. Shenault, a projected first-round pick in 2020, declared for the draft earlier this month.

Assistant head coach/receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini, who recruited both to CU, had continued talks with Nixon and is pleased to have him coming back.

“I felt like there was unfinished business for him at Colorado,” Chiaverini said. “I think it’s a great decision, him coming back and being a senior in the receiving room. With KD’s leadership and his playmaking ability, I think it’s going to help us be a much better team. I’m really excited to have him back. He knows how I feel about him and he knows that I’m here to help him.

“Coming back is going to put him in the top 10 (in CU history), as far as receptions and receiving yards. He has a chance to do that by coming back and doing what KD does.”

More so than the numbers, the Buffs get a versatile weapon back for 2020. Chiaverini felt Nixon’s ability to play different positions – as Shenault did – was going to be a benefit going into the NFL. Now, Nixon can do more of that for the Buffs.

“He can play wildcat quarterback, he can play the slot, he can play running back, he can play outside,” Chiaverini said. “He’s done all of that for us already in his career and I think we can do more of it with him.

“By him coming back, it can help him showcase his skill set to the National Football League – show his versatility, show that he can do all of those things at an even higher level and get even more opportunities now that Laviska has moved on to the NFL.”

Nixon’s decision completes a remarkable week for Chiaverini as a recruiter.

CU signed 20 recruits to national letters of intent on Wednesday, including four receivers – Chris Carpenter, Montana Lemonious-Craig, Keith Miller III and Brenden Rice. It’s a dynamic group that Chiaverini said is similar to the 2017 class that included Nixon, Shenault, Maurice Bell and Jaylon Jackson.

“I really, really like the class we just signed overall,” said Chiaverini, who is currently the No. 7-ranked recruiter in the Pac-12 by 247Sports.com. “It reminds me of that group (in 2017), just speed, size, athleticism, splay-making ability. It’s a really solid group that’s going to compete for playing time early.”