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CU Buffs notes: Discipline, teaching part of Karl Dorrell’s culture

Colorado head coach shares philosophy on player discipline, said receiver La’Vontae Shenault has path back to team

DENVER, CO – September 11, 2021: University of Colorado Boulder’s coach, Karl Dorrell, at the Texas A&M’s game on September 11, 2021 at Empower Field in Denver. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

In the 19 months since he was hired as the head football coach at Colorado, Karl Dorrell has given receiver La’Vontae Shenault several chances to make up for mistakes.

On Tuesday, Dorrell said he’s not ready to give up on the talented third-year freshman, who has been suspended indefinitely for violating team and athletic department rules.

“He does have a chance (to come back),” Dorrell said. “I believe in that. I believe in rehabilitation. But he’s got some stipulations that he’s going to have to show us that he wants to be back.”

Shenault, who began his latest suspension last Saturday, missing the Buffs’ 10-7 loss to Texas A&M, has been suspended three separate times by Dorrell in the past year.

As a college coach and mentor to young men, Dorrell shared his philosophy on dealing with players who make mistakes, even those with multiple violations.

“Part of my culture, the culture we’re building here is that we are in the education business,” he said. “We are into helping men mature to become great young men, very respectful men. There is going to be the ebbs and flows of guys are getting their wrist slapped when they’re making mistakes or they get a suspension, things like that.

“My job is still that the bottom line is when they’re done in school here and they’re done with their eligibility and they’re moving on to whatever is the next level or (being a) professional in a career from a business standpoint is for them to be fully functional as humans and understanding tough moments and understanding that life’s not fair.”

Rather than dismiss players quickly, Dorrell said he would rather work with them in learning from their mistakes. Dorrell is clearly willing to continue working with Shenault.

“There are tough pills to swallow because I will not jeopardize how we run our program; I don’t care who you are,” Dorrell said. “It might be a starter. It might be an All-American that gets in trouble or something happens. Guess what? He’s gonna pay the penalty. Every one of these players knows what those issues are. They understand it, and I don’t think they want to be governed any differently, to be honest with you.”

Dorrell believes the Buffs’ program is moving forward in part because he is honest with the players about his expectations and how he handles players who don’t follow rules.

“These guys, they’re great,” he said. “I get up every morning excited about each day, just being with his team, because they’re good young men that have great aspirations.”

On the mend

Last week was a tough one for the Buffs physically. Safety Chris Miller didn’t play against Texas A&M because of an injury, while defensive end Terrance Lang and running back Jarek Broussard both limped off the field during the second half.

On Tuesday, Dorrell said all three are doing well.

“(Lang and Miller) practiced today; they just have some soft tissue injuries right now that we’re trying to nurse them through,” he said. “(Lang) is a little nicked up, but we expect he’s going to be ready to go. Chris, he had a little bit of a soft tissue injury. … It’s hard for him to play in a game like that when he’s not full speed, but he’s made a lot of progress this week. We expect him to be back and ready this week.”

Dorrell said Broussard, who didn’t return after being tackled on a screen pass midway through the third quarter, “is fine” and practiced Tuesday.


Dorrell said Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff shouldn’t be an issue for the Buffs because they are used to practicing in the mornings anyway. … Minnesota doesn’t provide a depth chart, so CU decided not to release one, either — at least not a real one. CU sports information director David Plati came up with a fake depth chart, including Jimmy Buffet at “reefer receiver”; Fred Flintstone at center with Barney Rubble as his backup; and Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr at “Beatleback.” … Minnesota has the nation’s longest current winning streak against nonconference opponents, at 20.