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Buffs Film Room: The three things that will make LaJohntay Wester a special weapon for Colorado

Jake Schwanitz Avatar
February 2, 2024

The goal going into this offseason for Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes was to rebuild the trenches but Shedeur Sanders and CU’s offense also got faster and harder to defend. Former Florida Atlantic wide receiver LaJohnTay Wester committed to Colorado on January 9th giving Colorado another speedy playmaker that also improves their return game.

Wester was one of the most dynamic playmakers in the Group of 5 and earned First Team All-American Conference honors as a wide receiver and returner. Among all FBS wide receivers in 2023, Wester finished second in the country with 108 receptions and 14th in receiving yards with 1168. He also finished third in the country with 19.9 yards per punt return.

Colorado has a weapon in LaJohntay Wester, he will contribute to this year’s team in multiple ways.

Versatile playmaker

LaJohntay Wester was Florida Atlantic’s best player in 2023. FAU did a great job of moving Wester around the field to take advantage of his best attributes. Usually lining up out of the slot, FAU was able to take advantage of defenses because of Wester’s speed, ability to get off the line and create separation instantly with great short-area quickness and burst. Wester was also used out of the backfield and was given quick, manufactured touches to get him in space for big play opportunities.

FAU did a great job of getting Wester the ball in a variety of ways. He gets some great blocks downfield on this pop pass but picks up extra yardage by weaving his way through UAB’s defense.

Wester was lined up in the backfield throughout the season and became a matchup nightmare for teams defending FAU in 2023.

Wester is lined up on the bottom of the screen for FAU’s first play of the second half against UAB. He’s able to shake the cornerback’s jam at the line of scrimmage, get behind the defense then juke another defender out of his shoes for a touchdown.

Colorado’s screen game got off to a hot start last season but with Wester in the fold, the Buffs have another weapon that can stretch defenses horizontally and vertically.

Wester’s 108 receptions in 2023 were a combination of coaching that always put him in a situation to succeed and the receiver’s ability to be extremely reliable and a go-to player for the Owls. Achieving that at 5-foot-11 and 167 pounds is an even more impressive feat but it’s not surprising if you’re familiar with Wester’s game.

… It’s the size of the fight in the dawg

Despite his size, LaJohntay Wester is an extremely tough football player. He’s willing to go up and attack the football in the air and has a knack for shaking off big hits while holding on to the football. The Big 12 will certainly be a step up from the American Conference for Wester but he was an ironman for FAU. Over the last three seasons, Wester played in all 36 games for the Owls.

UAB blitzes allowing Wester to get a free release off the line of scrimmage. He completes the catch then instantly absorbs at hit, stays upright and picks up a huge chunk of yardage on fourth down.

American Conference cornerbacks just could not cover Wester in 2023 as he routinely made difficult catches look normal.

Once Wester earns Shedeur Sanders’ trust on the field, you can expect 2 to give him chances to go up and over the top of defensive backs.

Transferring to Colorado as a graduate, 2024 will be Wester’s only season in Boulder. The competition to get on the field at wide receiver for the Buffs this season will be fierce but it’s obvious the former Owl is up for the challenge.

Ace punt returner

LaJohntay Wester is a natural football player in the sense that he has an instinctive feel for finding ways to make defenders look silly. Speed and short-area quickness are his calling cards but his ability to hit creases and find running lanes is the reason he was 2023 First Team All-American Conference as a returner.

Wester is devastating with his cuts. Granted it’s against the punter, but he knows how to put defenders in a spin cycle.

This play is all instincts. Wester completely dictates the pace of the play when the ball is in his hands.

Charlotte’s punter outkicks his coverage and gives Wester too much space for a return here. After a series of cuts, he’s into the open field before he gets tripped up past midfield.

Colorado had three players return punts in 2023 with Xavier Weaver being the best of the bunch averaging 16.5 yards per return. With Weaver off to the NFL, it’s a wide-open competition to return punts for the Buffs in 2024. Jimmy Horn Jr. and Dylan Edwards will certainly factor into the conversation as will former Vanderbilt wide receiver Will Sheppard, but Wester has to be the odds-on favorite for the job at this point.

What should we expect out of Wester in 2024?

Colorado will feature one of the fastest, deepest and most talented wide-receiving corps in the nation in 2024. LaJohntay Wester enters Boulder as a graduate transfer but seems to have already graduated from FAU and is working out with the rest of the team at the Champions Center. Last season, Xavier Weaver was able to join the team after the spring game and built immediate chemistry with Shedeur Sanders. Shedeur made himself clear when Wester was uncommitted in the portal, that Colorado needed him.

Given his size and speed, it should be expected that Wester will be competing for a starting role out of the slot. Shedeur proved in 2023 that his physical and mental talent would easily translate to the Power 5 level and after combing through Wester’s game, he should be able to do the same. Wester will have to beat out returning starter Jimmy Horn Jr. but both should be in line for a bounty of snaps and opportunities this season.

Last season, Wester had one of the most impressive seasons for any wide receiver in college football. He was able to be one of the country’s most productive wide receivers while playing with two quarterbacks who combined for 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He has the talent to contribute to any team in the country in a variety of ways.

He should also slide in and become Colorado’s starting punt returner and could also be in line to be the team’s primary kick returner as well. Wester returned two kicks for FAU in 2023 but that was the first time he had done so since he was a true freshman in 2020 when he led the team.

Colorado has a dynamic, versatile playmaker in LaJohntay Wester. While 108 receptions likely won’t happen for him in Boulder this year, he will be able to contribute at every level of the field on offense and will help flip the field on returns to give Shedeur Sanders and Colorado’s offense prime field position.


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