As Dimitri Stanley sat in the lobby of the W Hollywood Hotel on Tuesday in California, Washington head coach Jimmy Lake walked by.
“What’s up, corner,” Lake said as Stanley laughed.
Stanley is a sophomore receiver at Colorado, but in December of 2017, Lake, then the co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for the Huskies, nearly convinced Stanley to play corner at UW.
“Me and coach Lake are real cool,” Stanley said after Lake walked by. “Definitely one of the coaches I connected with the most (during recruiting).”
Entering his fourth season at Colorado, Stanley has no regrets about his choice and he’s now the most experienced receiver on the Buffaloes’ roster.
“I really like receiver,” Stanley said. “Honestly, I thought about playing corner. I thought about making that switch even while I was here; I played corner for a little bit. I just felt like I was a pretty good route runner, pretty good at catching a ball. I am a pretty good defender and everything, but I wasn’t ready to make that transition until I knew I had to and it turned out I didn’t have to.”
Although Stanley could have been a great asset on defense, the Buffs are happy he’s on offense and he’s aiming to have his best season.
During the pandemic-shortened season in 2020, Stanley caught 16 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown in five regular season games. He added four catches for 86 yards against Texas in the Alamo Bowl. He also had 10 punt returns for 77 yards on the season.
Stanley, who ran sprints for the CU track team in the spring, is one of the fastest players on the team and he’s working on using that speed more consistently.
“I’ve definitely gotten much better at going full speed in practice,” he said. “With every young player, there’s times where you kind of like aren’t in the mood to practice or your body’s aching so you’re not really going full speed, but this year I’ve kind of just been trying to stay in the training room so there’s not as much of that. I think it’s been paying off for sure.”
Stanley’s other area of emphasis for improvement has been his leadership, especially among a group of receivers that is very young.
“I probably have to be more vocal,” he said. “Right now I kind of just try and bring other guys up in workouts coming in to try to lead by example, do the right things on and off the field. From the aspects on the field, I want to get better in every aspect of the game – from the knowledge about the game, from being able to read coverages, to being able to catch the ball and make more plays.”
His father, Walter, has helped in that regard. A CU receiver and punt returner from 1980-81, Walter has guided his son as much as possible.
“He still tries to be my main coach, and it’s been that way ever since I started playing football,” Stanley said. “He’ll come up to practices, he’ll come up to work out with me. He’s definitely supportive and tries to give me everything that he knows, tries to connect me with people that he knows. … Just so that I’m hearing all types of information and always learning new things, how to get better.”
Going into this season, Stanley has caught 51 passes for 604 yards and three touchdowns during his 20 regular season games with the Buffs. He’s got All-Pac-12 potential and believes he and his fellow receivers can be a special group.
“This receiver group can be really good,” he said. “I think we’re one of the top receiver corps in, honestly, the nation, talent-wise. It’s just gonna come down to the quarterback getting the ball, making the right calls and just playing football. We’ve just got go out there and make plays. Whoever is on the field has to make plays. That’s all it comes down to the end of the day.”