Laviska Shenault May Not Be a Legend, But He’ll Be Hard to Forget
There’s an emptiness to the apparent end of Laviska Shenault’s Colorado career that is familiar to anybody who ever had a balloon float out of their hand.
This great, fun thing here one minute, sailing off to the Oakland Raiders the next. And what do you have to show for it?
Colorado went exactly 5-7 each of Shenault’s three seasons in Boulder. It’s a mark that is poetically disappointing, like having a lottery ticket one digit off, or Guns N’ Roses’ “Chinese Democracy.”
Sometimes people will want to make it out that a guy in Laviska’s position is a loser, and there are situations where that is an accurate assessment. But that’s not the deal here. Pretty much every time Shenault was on the field and healthy, he delivered.
I can’t exactly tell how big a role injuries played in the season Shenault had, but he was obviously feeling a lot better at the end of the year than he was in the beginning or the middle.
His 56 catches for 764 yards was a big drop after catching 86 for 1,011 as a sophomore, even factoring for the fact he played 11 games instead of 12 this year. But look at the career as a whole. He barely played as a freshman, meaning in what amounted to two seasons, he wound up eighth in school history in receptions (149), 11th in receiving yards (1,943) and 25th in yards from scrimmage (2,223).
Had he been himself all year, Colorado probably would be playing in a bowl game. The Arizona game in particular comes to mind — Shenault sat out with an injury and CU lost by 5.
That’s how it goes in sports sometimes, but he was clearly the best player on two 5-7 Colorado teams and is now in all likelihood going to be one of the first wide receivers taken in the NFL Draft.
So where does that leave things?
Statistically he’s somewhere in the Shay Fields range, but that doesn’t quite capture the situation, I don’t think.
There was no universe in which Shay Fields was ever going to win the Heisman, but that alternate dimension exists for Shenault. He’s a thrilling athlete that looks different than the other players on the field, and while I don’t think 20 years from now he’ll be thought of as a legend, I know he’ll be hard to forget.