Buffs Position Preview: Buffs WRs Have Plenty Of Big-Play Capability
BOULDER — There is no shortage of talent and depth in the Colorado wide receiver room for the 2021 season.
Perhaps the biggest question is which players will show the consistency necessary to earn regular time on the field.
Last season, CU's two most productive receivers were sophomore Dimitri Stanley (16 catches for 249 yards and a touchdown in five regular season games) and freshman La'Vontae Shenault (17-193). Both are expected to get their share of snaps with the starting offense when the season opens Friday at Folsom Field against Northern Colorado at 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks).
But there are a host of other players also expected to get their chance in the rotation. Freshman Brenden Rice, who had an explosive finish to the regular season with a 61-yard TD catch and an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown against Utah, had an excellent camp and will likely be among the starters. Junior Daniel Arias, who has shown flashes of big-play moments in the past, should also figure in the starting equation.
Meanwhile, youngsters such as Keith Miller III and Montana Lemonious-Craig also had playmaking moments in camp and will no doubt get their turn in the rotation, as will junior Jaylon Jackson.
While Colorado's increased emphasis on the run game might result in an overall drop in receiving numbers, the opportunities for big plays will still be present. Every one of CU's receivers has the capability to produce game-changing moments, and the key will likely be consistency: who can make catches in traffic, produce yards after the catch, and also be a capable blocker in the run game.
POSITION COACH — Darrin Chiaverini, also the offensive coordinator, is in his sixth year at CU. He has recruited and coached some outstanding receivers during his tenure, and continues to develop a talented and deep wide receivers room.
KEY RETURNEES — Vets with ample playing time include sophomore Dimitri Stanley; freshmen La'Vontae Shenault and Brenden Rice; and juniors Daniel Arias and Jaylon Jackson. Also vying for playing time will be returning freshmen Keith Miller III and Montana Lemonious-Craig, and junior Jaylon Jackson. Another returning freshmen who had some nice moments in camp is speedster Chris Carpenter.
KEY NEWCOMERS — Incoming freshmen Chase Penry and Ty Robinson could see some snaps as the season progresses.
IF ALL GOES WELL … CU's veteran returnees will show consistency in all phases of the game, and the Buffs' depth will ensure that fresh legs are on the field ready to make plays every snap.
It will be interesting to see if any of the returning vets — Stanley, Shenault, Rice and Arias — can step up and become the "go-to" guy by taking their game to the next level. All have had their moments in the past, but regular production in all phases of the game will be a key factor in who gets the most snaps as the season progresses.