The Buffalo Bills preseason opener must have felt like deja vu for Boise State fans on Saturday.
Former Boise State wide receiver Khalil Shakir spent the past four years wowing fans with improbable catches in the biggest moments. He did it again Saturday in his NFL debut.
Shakir — a fifth-round pick in this year’s NFL draft — led the Bills with five catches for 92 yards in a 27-24 preseason win over the Colts.
“He has a bright future,” said Buffalo quarterback Case Keenum, who started Saturday’s preseason game.
Shakir caught two passes on Buffalo’s first drive of the game and went into halftime with a team-high three catches for 46 yards. He added back-to-back catches — one for 25 yards and one for 21 — on the Bills’ opening drive of the second half.
He had to spin and contort his body to make his fifth and final catch of the day. It was reminiscent of the many acrobatic catches Shakir made while leading Boise State with 77 catches for 1,117 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
“It seems like he has a good feel, a knack for the position,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott told reporters after the game.
Shakir also returned punts in the first half of the Bills’ preseason opener, but he managed just four yards on two returns.
The 6-foot, 196-pound native of Murrieta, California, was Boise State’s leading receiver in two of the past three seasons. He led the team with 52 catches for 719 yards and six touchdowns in 2020 and posted 63 receptions for 872 yards and six receiving touchdowns in 2019.
Shakir left Boise State ranked No. 5 in program history with 208 career receptions and No. 4 with 2,878 receiving yards. He’s tied for No. 9 with 20 receiving touchdowns.
Shakir wasn’t the only Mountain West alum who was impressive in his debut with the Bills on Saturday.
Former San Diego State punter Matt Araiza’s first punt in the NFL covered 82 yards late in the first half. Araiza, who earned the nickname “Punt god” in college, signed with Buffalo as an undrafted free agent.
Buffalo has six players from the Mountain West on its roster, including starting quarterback Josh Allen, who played at Wyoming.