Laviska Shenault

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Exactly half of the players selected in first two rounds of NFL draft were four-star recruits; nearly 70% were four- and five-stars

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As the current NFL draft continues to show, recruiting rankings don’t mean everything. But they do mean a lot. Especially when it comes to the first two rounds.

In the first two rounds, a total of the 64 players found themselves their first professional football homes.  And, of those more than five dozen players selected, exactly half of them (32) were four-star signees* coming out of high school.  On top of that, another 11 were five-star prospects when they signed with their respective schools.

Of the first 20 players picked, 16 of them were either four-star (11) or five-star (five) signees.  The No. 1 overall pick, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, was a four-star coming into Ohio State.  His former five-star teammate, OSU defensive end Chase Young, was selected No. 2 overall.

As the No. 6 pick in the first round, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert was the highest-drafted three-star.  Offensive lineman Robert Hunt out of Louisiana was drafted with the seventh pick of the second round, making him the highest-drafted two-star.  And the highest-drafted zero-star?  Div. II Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger, who was selected two picks before Hunt.

All told, 46 of the 106 players (43.4 percent) selected in the first three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft were four-stars in the recruiting rankings.  The next highest percentage was three-stars at 34.9 percent (37 out of 106).

After 11 in the first two rounds, just one five-star, Arkansas defensive tackle McTelvin Agim, was taken in the third round.

(*According to the 247Sports.com composite.)

FIRST ROUND
1. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow: four-star
2. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young: five-star
3. Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah: five-star
4. Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas: four-star
5. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa: five-star
6. Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert: three-star
7. Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown: five-star
8. Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons: three-star
9. Florida cornerback CJ Henderson: four-star
10: Alabama offensive tackle Jedrick Wills: four-star
11: Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton: three-star
12. Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III: four-star
13: Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs: four-star
14. South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw: four-star
15. Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy: five-star
16. Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell: four-star
17. Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb: four-star
18. USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson: four-star
19. Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette: three-star
20. LSU defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson: four-star
21. TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor: four-star
22. LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson: three-star
23: Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray: three-star
24: Michigan center Cesar Ruiz: four-star
25: Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk: three-star
26: Utah State quarterback Jordan Love: three-star
27: Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks: three-star
28: LSU linebacker Patrick Queen: four-star
29: Georgia offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson: five-star
30: Auburn cornerback Noah Igbinoghene: four-star
31: TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney: three-star
32: LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire: three-star

Five-star: 6
Four-star: 15
Three-star: 11
Two-star: 0
Zero-star: 0

SECOND ROUND
33. Clemson wide receiver Tee Higgins: five-star
34. USC wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.: four-star
35. Georgia running back D'Andre Swift: five-star
36: Alabama safety Xavier McKinney: four-star
37: Lenoir-Rhyne safety Kyle Dugger: zero-star
38: Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos: four-star
39. Louisiana guard Robert Hunt: two-star
40: TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock: four-star
41: Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor: three-star
42: Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault: three-star
43: Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet: four-star
44: LSU safety Grant Delpit: four-star
45. Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr.: three-star
46. Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler: four-star
47. Auburn defensive tackle Marlon Davidson: four-star
48. Tennessee defensive end Darrell Taylor: four-star
49. Notre Dame wide receiver Chase Claypool: four-star
50. Utah defensive back Jaylon Johnson: four-star
51. Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs: four-star
52. Florida State running back Cam Akers: five-star
53. Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts: four-star
54. Iowa defensive end AJ Epenesa: five-star
55. Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins: four-star
56. Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis: four-star
57. Florida wide receiver Van Jefferson: four-star
58. Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland: three-star
59. Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims: three-star
60. Michigan linebacker Josh Uche: three-star
61. LSU defensive back Kristian Fulton: five-star
62. Boston College running back AJ Dillon: three-star
63. Mississippi State linebacker Willie Gay Jr.: four-star
64. Southern Illinois defensive back Jeremy Chinn: zero-star

Five-star: 5
Four-star: 17
Three-star: 7
Two-star: 1
Zero-star: 2

THIRD ROUND
65. Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson: two-star
66. Memphis wide receiver Antonio Gibson: three-star
67: Notre Dame linebacker Julian Okwara: four-star
68: Cal defensive back Ashtyn Davis: zero-star
69. LSU guard Damien Lewis: three-star
70. Texas defensive back Brandon Jones: four-star
71. Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike: four-star
72. Houston offensive tackle Josh Jones: three-star
73. Ohio State defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton: three-star
74. Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun: three-star
75. Ohio State offensive lineman Jonah Jackson: three-star
76. Vanderbilt running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn: four-star
77. Iowa cornerback Michael Ojemudia: three-star
78. Temple center Matt Hennessy: two-star
79. Florida defensive end Jabari Zuniga: three-star
80. Kentucky wide receiver Lynn Bowden: four-star
81. South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards: four-star
82. Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore: four-star
83. LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry: three-star
84. Alabama linebacker Terrell Lewis: four-star
85. Utah defensive back Julian Blackmon: three-star
86. Utah running back Zack Moss: three-star
87. Alabama linebacker Anfernee Jennings: four-star
88. Missouri defensive tackle Jordan Elliott: four-star
89. Mississippi State cornerback Cameron Dantzler: three-star
90. Florida defensive end Jonathan Greenard: three-star
91. UCLA tight end Devin Asiasi: four-star
92. Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay: four-star
93. Appalachian State running back Darrynton Evans: two-star
94. Cincinnati tight end Josiah Deguara: two-star
95. Arkansas defensive tackle McTelvin Agim: five-star
96. TCU offensive tackle Lucas Niang: three-star
97: LSU linebacker Jacob Phillips: four-star
98. Ohio State linebacker Malik Harrison: three-star
99. UConn offensive tackle Matt Peart: two-star
100. Clemson safety Tanner Muse: three-star
101. Virginia Tech tight end Dalton Keene: three-star
102: Charlotte linebacker Alex Highsmith: zero-star
103: Colorado linebacker Davion Taylor: four-star
104: Utah safety Terrell Burgess: three-star
105: Dayton tight end Adam Trautman: zero-star
106. Mississippi State offensive tackle Tyre Phillips: three-star

Five-star: 1
Four-star: 14
Three-star: 19
Two-star: 5
Zero-star: 3

Colorado WR K.D. Dixon reverses course, opts out of 2020 NFL Draft

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On Dec. 11, Colorado wide receiver K.D. Nixon announced that, “[a]fter much prayer and discussion,” he would be entering his name into the 2020 NFL Draft.  Eight days later?  Never mind.

For now, at least.

In a statement Thursday, Nixon abruptly and unexpectedly reversed course, announcing that he will no longer be a part of next April’s draft pool.  Instead, and as he never signed with an agent, he will return to Colorado and play for the Buffaloes in 2020.

“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 his statement. “I look forward to contributing to the Buffaloes next season and making a difference for our team.”

It should be noted that draft-eligible players have until Jan. 20 of next year to make themselves available for the 2020 NFL Draft.

Nixon was third on the Buffaloes this season with 35 receptions for 465 yards.  His three receiving touchdowns were good for second on the team.  A year ago, Nixon set career-highs with 52 catches, 636 yards and four touchdowns.

Prior to Nixon’s flip-flop, and with Tony Brown‘s expired eligibility and Laviska Shenault leaving early, Tucker and his offensive coaching staff would have been forced to replace 147 receptions (the team had 257), 1,936 yards (2,858)  and 12 touchdown catches (18).

“Our goal is not only to build a championship-winning team and culture but also to prepare our players for life,” Tucker said in his statement. “Our entire team is excited that K.D. 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.”

WR Laviska Shenault confirms he’s leaving Colorado for NFL

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One of the lest surprising draft decisions is officially in the books.

One of the best wide receivers at this level when healthy, Laviska Shenault confirmed Tuesday that he has decided to forego his remaining collegiate eligibility and make himself available for the 2020 NFL Draft. It had been widely expected this would be his decision, with the receiver intimating in recent days that this was indeed the direction in which he was headed.

“First and foremost, I want to thank all of my friends, family and all those who helped me get where I am today,” Shenault said in a statement released by the football program. “I took in a lot of wisdom and knowledge from all of you and used it to make me a better man on and off the field. I’m blessed to be in the position I am today and I know my dad would be proud of the foundation I left as I pursue my dream of playing at the next level and declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.”

Last season, Shenault led the nation with 9.5 receptions, finishing the year with 1,011 yards and six touchdowns on 86 catches.  He scored five more touchdowns on the ground.

This season, as he battled injury, Shenault finished with 56 receptions for 764 yards and four touchdowns receiving and 21 rushes for 161 yards and two touchdowns rushing.

“Laviska Shenault represented our relentless culture and was one of the most dynamic, dominant and versatile players that I have ever coached,” said CU head football coach Mel Tucker. “He embodies the true ‘show me, don’t tell me’ competitive spirit. I look forward to watching him develop and compete at the elite level and thank him for his contributions on and off the field. Once a Buff, always a Buff.”

Colorado punts on an upset as USC storms back to win in Boulder

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Colorado head coach Mel Tucker was on the verge of delivering a signature and historic victory on Friday night but the team whose motto is ‘Fight On’ just wouldn’t give up on leaving Boulder with a victory. USC avoided what could have been an awful upset as they mounted a comeback to beat Colorado 35-31 in a #Pac12AfterDark special in front of the Flatirons.

Sparking the charge with a 21 point outburst in the second half was none other than Kedon Slovis, the young freshman quarterback for the Trojans who helped his team finally notch a win on the road in 2019 by finding his talented group of wide receivers running free all over the field down the stretch. He finished the night with 406 yards, four touchdowns and an interception but most of the heavy lifting was done by the guys on the other end of the throws. Tyler Vaughns notched 104 yards and a score through the air while Michael Pittman was a big play machine on a night where he recorded 156 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Fellow receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown was also heavily involved in the display, catching five passes for 55 yards while also getting some featured touches at tailback and running for 50 more yards and scoring off a nifty play up the gut.

The outing by the offense helped cover up for a defense that was on the field for over 34 minutes and gave up a number of big plays in the second and third quarters to sound the upset alert on a chilly night of action.

The Buffs took advantage of that tired and banged up Trojans unit to break out of their own offensive slump the past two games, averaging nearly seven yards per play and going 4-for-4 in the red zone. Steven Montez threw for 324 yards and three scores while Laviska Shenault went off for 172 yards and a touchdown of his own to finally look healthy for the first time in weeks.

It wasn’t enough in the end however as the team ran out of steam and lost their aggressiveness late. Despite controlling the game pretty much from the start on both sides of the ball, Tucker’s decision to punt inside the opposing 40 yard line instead of going for it on fourth down was something fans of the black and gold soon won’t forget — especially given that it resulted in an 89 yard game-winning scoring drive going the other way. The result dropped CU to 3-5 on the season, leaving little margin for error the rest of the way if there’s any hope of making a bowl game in the coach’s debut campaign.

The flip side of not notching the program’s first ever victory over USC is that opposite number Clay Helton’s hot seat can simply stay warm instead of being set fully ablaze by cardinal and gold supporters. The Trojans rather improbably remain atop the Pac-12 South thanks to their win over Utah earlier and return home to the Coliseum next week to face what has proven to be the conference’s best team in Oregon. That game wasn’t expected to carry significant national and conference implications but that is the case with the calendar rolling over November.

Many Buffs fans will have to sit back and wonder what if after a few calls down the stretch but the bottom line is that the team that is supposed to fight on did just that to live another day in yet another wild start to the college football weekend out West.

Colorado leads USC at halftime of competitive Pac-12 South battle

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Pac-12 road teams have struggled in recent years when on the road for Friday night games in conference play and we might be on the verge of adding another victim to the list this week if Colorado can keep things up against South Division rival USC.

The Buffs were giving the visitors everything they could handle to lead 17-14 at halftime on a chilly Boulder night and looking for more after the break in a game that both sides badly need to have as they move deeper into the second half of the season.

Things started out well for the Trojans as they marched right down the field on their opening drive, using wide receiver Amon Ra-St. Brown at tailback due to injuries and allowing the youngster to sprint 37 yards up the gut for a touchdown. He finished the first half with 50 yards on the ground and combined with speedy freshman Kenan Christon (19 yards rushing, 1 TD reception) in the backfield. Quarterback Kedon Slovis had a few flirtations with disaster but posted 120 yards, one score and one interception.

Opposite number Steven Montez looked a lot better throwing the football around, bouncing back from a few rough outings in recent weeks to throw for 147 yards and two touchdowns by the midway mark. Colorado’s star player Laviska Shenault seemed to be fully healthy and fully incorporated in that passing attack, notching six receptions for a nice 69 yards against a banged up secondary.

Penalties were a big issue however and something head coach Mel Tucker will no doubt, uh, discuss with his team in the locker room after the Buffs racked up six flags — including a few drive-killers that zapped some late momentum. CU still held the lead and get the ball back for the second half though as they are hoping to keep things rolling for home teams in some Friday night #Pac12AfterDark action.