EZ Mortgages

Recruiting – A breakdown of the class by position / CU v. the Big 12

// Feb 6 - 2008

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Recruiting Class of 2008

Here is a look at the entire Colorado recruiting class of 2008, broken down by position. Want to know which recruits will have an impact on the 2008 depth chart? Read on ….

Read The Entire Review…

Rating the Buffs v. the rest of the Big 12

Colorado’s recruiting class is ranked 27th by Scout.com; 16th by Rivals. com. Both of these rankings are the best in the past five years for the Buffs. How did CU’s rivals in the Big 12 fare? Oklahoma and Texas are consistently in or near the top ten nationally every year, including this one. What about everyone else? Take a look at which teams other than CU made strides compared to their five year average (Kansas, Missouri, Baylor), and which teams did not measure up to their normal rankings (Nebraska, Texas Tech) ….

Read The Entire Review…

What does history tell us? A look back at the recruiting class of 2003

The Colorado recruiting class of 2003 was ranked 19th by both Scout.com and Rivals.com. What players lived up to their hype? Which names of players were on the lips of every Buff fan five years ago, but would stump most of us today? Lessons we can learn from the class of Mason Crosby and and Terrence Wheatley, which was also the class of Dominique Brooks and Travis Berry ….

Read the History ….

There Used to be some Mystery to the Process

The Darrell Scott drama notwithstanding, these days there is very little mystery to a school’s recruiting class come the first Wednesday in February. Signing day is formalization of a class we have known about and discussed for months. Remember when the day after signing day was like Christmas morning, when we knew what a few presents would be, but most remained a mystery? A short look back at the “good ol’ days” ……

Read On…

CUatthegame.com not going into hibernation!

While the 2007 season has come to an end, and the 2008 campaign remains months away, there will always be plenty to chat about between now and August (and not just the coverage of spring ball). I will be sending out periodic emails to anyone who would like to be on the email list. If you are not already on the list, just drop me a note at MontanaBuff@hotmail.com, and I will be happy to put you on the update list. If you are already on the list, then you should (to paraphrase Bill McCartney) go get 50 friends to sign up!

The next formal posting on this site will come as Spring football approaches. Until then, keep in touch! Stuart

Comments, questions and concerns …..


Recruting Class of 2008

Who did the Buffs sign, and who will have an immediate impact? A position by position look at the ’08 class:

Quarterback

The only quarterback commitment for CU in ’08 is Tyler Hansen from Temecula, California. Hansen is rated as a two star prospect (#108 nationally), and threw for 2,248 yards and 21 touchdowns in his senior season. Hansen’s only other offer came from Idaho State.

Impact on the 2008 roster: Negligible. Hansen is not highly regarded (though he did perform well in all-star games after the season), and will be well behind on the depth chart behind returning starter Cody Hawkins and senior Nick Nelson, and red-shirt freshman Matt Ballenger is not to be discounted as being in the mix this fall. Barring injuries, Hansen will likely be a redshirt candidate in 2008.

Running back

The running back class of ’08, is after the linebacking crew, the highlight of the CU signees. Of course, the attention for months has centered around Darrell Scott, who committed to the Buffs on ESPNU the morning of signing day. Ranked as the #1 running back prospect in the country by both Rivals.com and Scout.com, Scott rushed for 2,433 yards and 33 touchdowns in leading his high school team to the state championship. Scott had offers from virtually every big name program in the country, and in the end chose CU over Texas, LSU, and UCLA. (If you have the stomach for it, there is a great article by the New York Times on the last few days leading up to Scott’s decision – it was verrry close!. The article is at

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/07/sports/ncaafootball/07preps.html?_r=1&ref=sports&oref=slogin

But wait, there is more! The recruiting class also includes Ray Polk from Phoenix, Arizona. A three star prospect, Polk is rated as the 43rd best running back prospect in the country. Polk had offers from at least four Pac-10 schools, including both Arizona schools, Oregon State, and Washington, as well as Michigan and Oklahoma State. Polk ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at a Scout.com combine.

Finally, the Buffs received a last minute pledge from Rodney Stewart of Columbus, Ohio. Stewart is not all that big (5′ 8″, 185), but rushed for over ten yards a carry in his senior season (sound like Hugh Charles?). Stewart also lettered four times in track (sprints and relays), so CU may have found a new kick returner (Ben Kelly, anyone?). Stewart was not highly recruited, with offers only from Iowa and three MAC schools, but his speed will be more than welcome in Boulder.

Impact on the 2008 roster: Immediate. The Buffs lose two running backs, including three year star Hugh Charles. The list of returning runners includes Demetrius Sumler, Brian Lockridge, and Kevin Moyd. All three have demonstrated talent, but none broke through in ’07 as the obvious successor to Charles. The race for the starting job should carry through to fall camp.

Wide Receiver

One wide receiver committed to Colorado in 2008, Chance Blackmon of Tatum, Texas. A three star recruit (76th nationally), Blackmon had offers from Houston, as well as Big 12 rivals Kansas, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State. Tatum has been timed at 4.54 in the 40 yard dash.

Impact on the 2008 roster: Possible. Colorado does lose two receivers, Dusty Sprague and Stephone Robinson, but the cupboard is far from bare. Two record-setting freshmen, Josh Smith and Scotty McKnight, return for their sophomore seasons, as does Kendrick Celestine. Seniors to be Patrick Williams and Cody Crawford will also be in the mix, as will incoming red-shirt freshman Marques Simas. Blackmon will have to demonstrate he can be an immediate impact player to break into the lineup in 2008.

Tight End

There will be three new tight ends on the Buffs’ roster for 2008. The first is Ryan Deehan from Poway, California. Deehan is a three star prospect (33rd rated tight end overall) who was sought after by no fewer than five Pac-10 schools (Arizona State, UCLA, Cal, Oregon, and Washington). The second is Ryan Wallace from Bowling Green, Kentucky. Wallace is rated as the #46 tight end in the nation, and had committed to Louisville in December before opting for the Buffs two days before signing day. In addition to Louisville, Wallace had offers from Rutgers, Stanford, and Wake Forest. Another middle linebacker prospect also signed on with the Buffs. Homegrown Will Pericak only has to head up the hill to campus from Boulder High to wear the black and gold. Pericak, in addtion to receiving accolades as a tight end, was ranked as the 26th best middle linebacker prospect in the nation. An early commit for CU, Pericak nonetheless had offers from Colorado State and Air Force.

Impact on the 2008 roster: Possible. The Buffs lose Tyson DeVree, who led the team with six touchdown receptions, along with Joe Sanders. Still, CU has juniors to be Riar Geer and Patrick Devenny, as well as sophomore Nate Solder, returning. There are a number of bodies in front of Deehan and Wallace on the roster, but since CU makes great use of the tight end position in the offense, playing time for these three quality recruits as true freshmen is a possibility.

Offensive line

No fewer than three new offensive linemen will be in the fold for 2008. The most highly regarded of the three is Bryce Givens, a four star prospect from Mullen High in Denver. Rated as the 12th best offensive tackle in the country, Givens originally committed to Nebraska before taking an official visit to Boulder in December (Givens also had offers from the likes of Michigan, Florida, and Texas). At 6’6″, but only 265, Givens may need time to grow into his large frame.

Also committing to Colorado in ’08 is a three star tackle from San Jacinto, California, Ryan Dannewitz. Rated as the 53rd best tackle in the country, like Givens, is 6’6″ and 265. Offers for Dannewitz came from both Arizona schools, as well as Oregon and Washington.

The third new member of the offensive line is guard Max Tuioti-Mariner, who comes to Boulder from Corona, California. Tuioti-Mariner is considered the 19th-best guard in the nation (though garnering only a three star rating). At 6’3″ and 290 pounds, Tuioti-Mariner is already a large human being. Offers for Tuioti-Mariner came from all over the country, including Hawaii and Tennessee, as well as Arizona, Cal, and Oregon from the Pac-10.

Impact on the 2008 roster: Unlikely. CU lost two senior starters from the offensive line, but has three returning starters (actually four, as Devin Head, who started the first six games of the season at guard, also returns). In addition, six of the eight linemen recruited in ’07 were red-shirted, giving the Buffs, a team which a year ago had to use seven-on-seven drills for some of the spring game due to a lack of healthy offensive linemen, surprising depth. It is more than likely that all three of these recruits will be consigned to the weight room in ’08. Then again, two true freshmen, guard Kai Maieva and tackle Ryan Miller, started over half of the games in ’07, so you never know for sure.

Overall – Offense

The Buffs did not obtain a noteworthy recruit at quarterback, but then again, one is probably not necessary this year (look for CU to be a big player in the chase for a quarterback in ’09, though). The running game will be bolstered by the addition of Darrell Scott, Ray Polk, and Rodney Stewart, while the receiving corps will get a boost from Chance Blackmon. The offensive line received the biggest upgrade, with three new quality recruits. Adding these three to the eight from last season has turned the most glaring weakness in the Buff offensive attack to one of its strengths. Look for continued improvement as the Buffs continue to add depth in the line and quality in the “skill” positions.

Defense

Defensive line

Only one true defensive lineman was signed by the Buffs in ’08 (some linebacker recruits may see action as defensive ends before all is said and done with this class). Curtis Cunningham joins his former Columbine High teammate, offensive tackle Ryan Miller on the Buff roster. A three star prospect, Cunningham is rated as the 42nd best tackle prospect in the nation. An early commit to CU (August), Cunningham did have offers from all of the front range schools, as well as Utah and Arizona.

Impact on the 2008 roster: Unlikely. Colorado returns both starters at defensive tackle in ’08, Brandon Nicholas (voted by his peers as the player on the roster who does the most with the least recognition) and All-Big 12 George Hypolite. Four others return as backups. Though the Buffs are not deep at this position, it would be a surprise to see Cunningham playing in his first season as a Buff.

Linebacker

As Keith Jackson might say, “Whoa, Nellie!” Did the Buffs hit the jackpot here, or what? Always a position of strength at Colorado, the linebacking class of ’08 may yet be considered the best ever.

Where to start? How about with a linebacker already in class in Boulder? Lynn Katoa from Salt Lake City is rated as the #3 middle linebacker prospect in the nation, and, not surprisingly, is considered a five star recruit. Katoa runs a 4.6 40 yard dash despite his 6’2″, 220 pound frame. Sought after by most of the major programs in the country, including Florida, Miami, and Texas, it appeared for awhile in December that Oklahoma might woo away Katoa from the Buffs, but, in the end, Katoa enrolled at CU in January.

On the strongside, the Buffs also hit gold with two top of the line prospects. Before all of the hype over the Darrell Scott saga, and the excitement over Bryce Givens de-committing from Nebraska and committing to the Buffs in December, CU fans were all abuzz in September about the commitment to the Buffs made by linebacker Jon Major. Major, considered the 3rd best strongside linebacker prospect in the nation (though only four stars overall), was the consensus #1 prospect out of Colorado in 2007. Major had offers from all of the major programs in the nation. Michigan, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Oregon all made offers. In the end, Major became the second Colorado #1 prospect to head to Boulder (following ’07’s #1, Ryan Miller).

Also joining the Buffs is strongside linebacker Doug Rippy. Rippy comes to Boulder from Trotwood, Ohio, and is rated as a three star prospect (#16 overall). Rippy, along with Bryce Givens and defensive end Josh Williams, made headlines in December when all three de-committed from Nebraska and committed to Colorado (Williams later reneged, committing again to the Cornhuskers). In addition to Nebraska, Rippy had offers from many of the football powers in the Midwest, including Cincinnati, Louisville, Michigan State, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh.

Finally, as if the above three recruits were not enough, the Buffs also landed a four star weakside linebacker in Shaun Mohler. The only junior college transfer to make the ’08 commitment list, Mohler comes to Colorado by way of Orange Coast Community College, but also by way of Cal and Nebraska. Mohler committed to the Cal Bears in May, then switched his commitment to Nebraska in June, before finally settling on the Buffs in December.

Impact on the 2008 roster: Immediate, and long lasting. If the Buffs had received a commitment from Jon Major alone, it would have been a good recruiting class for the program. Landing the highest rated player in the state is a high priority for a school looking to reclaim its luster in the eyes of the locals, and, in bringing in the best player for the second year in a row, Dan Hawkins has made great inroads. Then, the Buffs receive commitments from the best player in Utah, and a four star recruit from a junior college (not to mention two highly regarded three star prospects – if you count LB/TE Will Pericak). The Buffs lose All-American Jordon Dizon to the NFL, but there was already talent in the wings. Jeff Smart and Brad Jones will return as seniors, and Michael Sipili, who was slated to be a starter in ’07, returns from his suspension. Linebacker will truly be a position of strength for Colorado in 2008. It will be fun to watch the competition for playing time amongst all of these quality players.

Secondary

Colorado picked up four commitments for its beleaguered secondary in 2008, though the recruiting sites do not think much of the group. The highest rated amongst the three is Stephen Hicks, a three star recruit from Whitehouse, Texas (53rd rated safety prospect overall). Hicks, at 6’1″, 185, has been timed at 4.5 in the 40 yard dash. Though considered no better than the 87th best player in his home state of Texas, Hicks did have offers from Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M from the Big 12, as well as from Tennessee and Purdue.

One of the other secondary recruits for Colorado in ’08 comes from Highlands Ranch in Denver. Patrick Mahnke is a two star prospect (98th overall), with a 4.6 40 yard dash to his credit. Mahnke’s only other offers came from Colorado State and Wyoming.

Rounding out the list of pure defensive backfield recruits is Vince Ewing, from Carlsbad, California. Another two star recruit (133rd safety prospect overall), along with Mahnke and quarterback Tyler Hansen, were the first three recruits of the 2008 class, all committing to come to Boulder in June.

The final member of this quartet committed on signing day. Paul Vigo is listed on the roster at this time as an “athlete”. Vigo played middle linebacker and safety in high school at New Brunswick, New Jersey, but his 6’1″, 205 pound frame (not to mention his 4.5 in the 40 speed) may make him more suitable in the secondary. Vigo did have offers from several east coast schools, including Rutgers, Connecticut, and Syracuse, before settling on the Buffs.

Impact on the 2008 roster: Possible. The Buffs were one of the worst defenses against the pass in the nation in 2007 (101st overall), and both of CU’s corners are gone. All-Big 12 Terrence Wheatley is off to the NFL , while the other starting corner, Ben Burney, will be red-shirting in 2008 as he recovers from surgeries he is to undergo this spring. This leaves a huge gap in a depth chart which was not overly flush with talent from the outset. Three red-shirt freshmen will vie for playing time in ’08, Lamont Smith, Anthony Wright, and Anthony Perkins. If none of these three make the grade, and none of the other backups who failed to make the field of play in ’07 step up, one or more of the ’08 class may be pressed into duty.

Kicking game

CU did not offer any scholarships to kickers from the 2007 roster in 2008, including a walk on, Tyler Cope, who handled kickoff duties for the Buffs in 2007 (Cope is returning to Oregon to play for Oregon State, where at least he can avoid paying out-of-state tuition). This does not mean that the Buffs, who graduated Kevin Eberhart, will be without options. Aric Goodman is a sophomore transfer from Wyoming, who sat out the 2007 season. He will compete with Jameson Davis, a former Boise State recruit, who was the 21st recruit of the 2008 class.

Impact on the 2008 roster: Immediate. Matt DiLallo will be back as a junior for his third season as punter, but with no kickers on the roster with any game experience, the position is up for grabs. Either Goodman or Davis should win the job, as there are no other placekickers listed on the CU depth chart.

Overall – Defense

The 2008 recruiting class is one of the classic rich getting richer while the poor get poorer. The linebacking unit, already the deepest unit on the team, got no fewer than four quality recruits, three of which may have an immediate impact. Meanwhile the secondary, suffering from needs most dire, for the most part went wanting. Two of the Buffs’ first three recruits for ’08 were safeties, but neither is highly regarded. Either the defensive backfield recruits from the ’07 class will step up, or the best linebackers in the Big 12 will spend most of their fall afternoons in 2008 watching footballs sail over their heads for long gains. Until the Buffs find a shut down corner (or two), the CU defense will not be of championship caliber.

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How do the Buffs’ rate? A look at the ’08 classes in the Big 12

Signing Day – 2008 – Big 12

While Buff fans were focused on February 6th on who will be wearing black and gold for the next four to five years, CU’s rivals were also loading up for what they hope will be successful runs to Big 12 titles before the end of the decade. A breakdown of how the rest of the Big 12 fared on signing day:

Big 12 North

What a difference one season makes. A year ago, the Big 12 North was considered to be one of the weakest divisions amongst the BCS conferences. Now, on the heels of both Missouri and Kansas finishing the season in the top ten, the North is viewed differently, both by the media and by recruits. Kansas, Missouri and Colorado each posted their highest recruiting classes of the past five seasons, while Kansas State (at least in the eyes of Rivals.com), saw its best recruiting class in the past four years. Only Nebraska and Iowa State, with the division’s two newest coaches, seemed to take a step back from where they normally finish in the recruiting rankings.

[Note: Recruiting rankings are of February 10th. They may change over the next few days, and will be updated periodically until the final rankings are established.]

Nebraska

Signing day rank: Scout.com – 21st; Rivals.com – 30th

Highest ranked recruiting class (2004-’07): Scout.com – 10th (2005); Rivals.com 5th (2005)

Lowest ranked recruiting class (2004-’07): Scout.com – 38th (2004); Rivals.com 27th (2004)

It always begins and ends with Nebraska, doesn’t it? Well, the Cornhuskers had their highs and lows in the 2008 recruiting cycle. During the ’07 season, Nebraska’s ’08 class was ranked in the top ten, but that ranking dropped like a stone after the firing of Bill Callahan. There were numerous defections to other schools (including two to CU), most notably quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who defected in favor of Missouri, and running back Jonas Gray (to Notre Dame).

New head coach Bo Pelini did shore up the class to an extent after his hiring, most notably on the defensive side of the ball, though Pelini did receive commitments from three wide receivers in the last week of recruiting. The highest ranked prospect in the ’08 class is offensive guard Baker Steinkuhler (if you need help with that last name, you haven’t been a Buff fan for very long), who committed to Nebraska in September of his junior year in high school. Still, Pelini landed 12 recruits after officially taking over in Lincoln after the BCS championship game. The tally? Nine three star recruits; three two star recruits. Not exactly the stuff of legend.

Missouri

Signing day rank: Scout.com – 31st; Rivals.com – 26th

Highest ranked recruiting class (2004-’07): Scout.com – 36th (2004); Rivals.com – 29th (2004)

Lowest ranked recruiting class (2004-’07): Scout.com – 58th (2006); Rivals.com – 47th (2006)

Missouri turned its first Big 12 North title into recruiting gold in ’08, scoring its first top 30 recruiting class of the decade. As noted above, one of the highest rated players in the Tigers’ ’08 class originally committed to Nebraska, but quarterback Blaine Gabbert later de-committed and signed on with Missouri. It also appears that Gabbert will have plenty of talented receivers to throw to, as Missouri landed four star tight end Andrew Jones and four star wide receiver Wes Kemp.

Kansas

Signing day rank: Scout.com – 48th; Rivals.com – 40th

Highest ranked recruiting class (2004-’07): Scout.com – 47th (2006); Rivals.com – 38th (2006)

Lowest ranked recruiting class (2004-’07): Scout.com – 78th (2007); Rivals.com (51st) 2004

Another Big 12 North rival which turned its ’07 glory on the field into its best recruiting class in memory. Kansas finished 12-1 on the season, and finished ranked in the top ten nationally for the first time since 1995. The Jayhawks picked up two four star recruits in tight end Tanner Hawkinson and junior college running back Jocques Crawford. Still, Kansas did not break into the top 25 in the recruiting classes, losing out on two highly rated in-state prospects, linebacker Arthur Brown (Miami) and running back Chris Harper (Oregon).

Kansas State

Signing day rank: Scout.com 45th; Rivals.com 28th

Highest ranked recruiting class (2004-’07): Scout.com – 46th (2005); Rivals.com – 18th (2004)

Lowest ranked recruiting class (2004-’07): Scout.com – 78th (2006); Rivals.com – 45th (2006)

This class is the most bizarre of the Big 12. Apparently, it is very difficult to gauge the recruiting classes in Manhattan. Exhibit A: The wide range of grade over the past few years. The two main agencies were 33 rankings apart on the ’06 class, and the ’04 class, which Rivals.com thought was the 18th best in the nation, registered a 48th best ranking at Scout.com.

Exhibit B: Kansas State head coach Ron Prince, like CU’s Dan Hawkins, will be entering his third season as head coach. Unlike Colorado, where Dan Hawkins’ overall record of 8-17 has not brought about calls for tar and feathers, records of 7-6 and 5-7 have seemed to have caused Prince to push the panic button. No fewer than 20 of KSU’s 34 recruits are JC transfers! Yes, the state of Kansas is a hotbed for junior college football, and yes, the Wildcats have a history of building through the JC ranks, but 20 of 34? Not exactly the prototype way to build a program. We’ll see.

Of those who are coming to Manhattan to see immediate playing time, three are four star recruits. Offensive tackle Wade Weibert, wide receiver Aubrey Quarles, and cornerback Kennard Banks represent the JC contingent’s most likely to succeed.

Iowa State

Signing day rank: Scout.com – 57th; Rivals.com – 62nd

Highest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 50th (2005); Rivals.com – 42nd (2004)

Lowest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 69th (2007); Rivals.com – 63rd (2006)

Iowa State is another school were the ranking websites have trouble getting together (perhaps due to lack of attention paid to the program. ISU has had only one class rated as being in the top 50 in the country this decade). The same discrepancies were not quite as pronounced in 2008, where 2nd-year head coach Gene Chizik posted his first full year recruiting class. Usually, the Cyclones make due without any recruits meriting four stars, much less five, but this year they did get one four star recruit, Sedrick Johnson, who had offers from at least three other Big 12 schools. Still, Iowa State’s main battle in the recruiting wars seems to be beating out Baylor for the 11th best class in the conference.

Big 12 South

Oklahoma won its sixth Big 12 South title in 2007, and its fifth Big 12 championship overall. The Sooners’ recruiting class reflects OU’s status amongst the nation’s elite. Texas, despite not being able to dethrone Oklahoma the past few seasons, nonetheless continues to pile up the tens (ten win seasons; top ten rankings; top ten recruiting classes), or at least close to tens. The ugly step-sisters to the Sooners and Longhorns are Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Both are fine programs, but the two own only division titles between them (both by A&M; the last in 1998). The status of the Aggies and the Red Raiders is often reflected in their recruiting classes. Close to the second tier is Oklahoma State, while Baylor looks for answers with a new head coach.

Texas

Signing day rank: Scout.com – 16th; Rivals.com – 14th

Highest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 3rd (2007); Rivals.com – 5th (2007)

Lowest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 13th (2005); Rivals.com – 20th (2005)

When you have recruiting classes which are routinely in the top ten in the nation, having a recruiting class on the fringes of the top ten, as Texas has with this crop of recruits, can be thought of as a down year. Such is the lot of Texas head coach Mack Brown. For many years, Brown was the “Mr. February” of the college football world – great recruiter, but can’t win the big game. Now, with a national title under his belt, Brown no longer faces such back handed compliments.

Unlike CU, where a five star recruit is cause for celebration, and four star recruits are heralded, Texas expects four and five star recruits as a birthright. There was nothing new in ’08, as cornerback Aaron Williams and wide receiver Dan Buckner were the five star headliners. No fewer than 11 four star recruits round out the class.

Oklahoma

Signing day rank: Scout.com – 13th; Rivals.com – 5th

Highest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 5th (2005); Rivals.com – 3rd (2005)

Lowest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 30th (2007); Rivals.com – 14th (2007)

Same song; different state flag. Like Texas, Oklahoma under head coach Bob Stoops expects great recruiting classes each and every season. But for the anomalous ranking of 30th by Scout.com for the ’07 class, every class in uniform in ’08 for OU would come from top 15 stock. This season, the Sooners signed three five star players, including the 2nd and 3rd ranked running backs in the nation, Justin Johnson and Jermie Calhoun. Another five star signee is defensive end R. J. Washington. All three of these blue chip players hail from Texas, as do four of Oklahoma’s eleven four star recruits.

Texas A&M

Signing day rank: Scout.com – 15th; Rivals.com – 16th

Highest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 14th (2004); Rivals.com – 8th (2005)

Lowest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 26th (2007); Rivals.com – 43rd (2007)

Dennis Franchione may no longer be in College Station, but his influence will still be felt. Before being fired as head coach of the Aggies, Franchione put together a top 10 recruiting class. For the most part, new head coach Mike Sherman has been able to retain the top players in the class, though the rating of the class dropped markedly in the last few weeks before signing day. In all, nine four star players signed with Texas A&M, including quarterback Tommy Dorman, ranked as one of the top ten quarterbacks in this season’s recruiting class.

Oklahoma State

Signing day rank: Scout.com – 40th; Rivals.com – 27th

Highest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 16th (2006); Rivals.com – 22nd (2006)

Lowest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 64th (2005); Rivals.com – 42nd (2005)

How far will a rant get you in the recruiting world? The last time we paid attention to Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, he was making the rounds on ESPN and YouTube for his post-game rant defending quarterback Bobby Reid. Reid, despite his coach’s defense, has now left the program, as has a number of starters from the ’07 7-6 Cowboy squad. Replacements will be put to the test early, as eight junior college transfers will swell the ranks, including four star running back Beau Johnson. Amongst the freshmen recruits, four star linebacker Alfred Dupree has received the most attention.

Texas Tech

Signing day rank: Scout.com – 58th; Rivals.com – 42nd

Highest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 17th (2006); Rivals.com – 25th (2006)

Lowest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 44th (2007); Rivals.com – 52nd (2007)

Texas Tech is the epitome of a “good enough” football program. “Good enough” to be the only team in Big 12 history to be bowl-eligible in each of the league’s 12 seasons. “Good enough” to regularly rank in the 30’s and 40’s in recruiting classes.

But not “good enough” to have won a division title. And this year, not “good enough” to have a breakthrough recruiting class. Perhaps due to speculation that head coach Mike Leach would depart for another program, the Red Raiders’ ’08 class was not quite as good as usual. Texas Tech did land three four star recruits, but all three are junior college players, and all are defensive linemen. The rest of the class is average, at best.

Baylor

Signing day rank: Scout.com – 55th; Rivals.com – 51st

Highest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 52nd (2007); Rivals.com – 59th (2005)

Lowest ranked recruiting class: (2004-’07): Scout.com – 89th (2004); Rivals.com – 87th (2004)

New Baylor head coach Art Briles is, at least in the eyes of Rivals.com, bringing to Waco one of the highest ranking recruiting class in years. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the class is still in the second half of all of the nation’s programs. Either last or next to last in the Big 12 rankings annually (occasionally Iowa State sinks lower, though Scout.com presently ranks both Iowa State and Texas Tech behind the Bears), Baylor is looking for a new start with Briles. And Briles’ one four star recruit, quarterback Robert Griffin, may be the player to bring about the new start. Griffin, from Copperas Cove in Texas, is rated as the 12th best quarterback prospect in the nation.

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Remembering the Recruiting class of 2003

Despite all of the hand-wringing going on all over the nation over the recruiting rankings, there is, in fact, little to be learned in February. It will be two or three years before we have a good idea of what the class of 2008 will bring to the college football world. Certainly, if you are consistently ranked in the top ten in recruiting classes (Oklahoma, Florida, Ohio State, USC, etc.), your fans will expect annual runs at conference and national championships. Conversely, if you are consistently at the bottom of your conference rankings (Baylor springs to mind), the results on the field will play out accordingly.

But what of everyone else in between? It’s a roll of the dice. For fun, though, let’s take a look back at the CU class of 2003, many of whom were (or would have been) seniors this past season. What was thought of the class, and how did the predictions play out?

The Set Up

Colorado in 2003 was coming off of back-to-back Big 12 North titles. The Buffs in ’02 went 7-1 in conference play, but only 9-5 overall. In all, there were 25 members of the recruiting class of ’03. Nine players were from Texas, with five each from Colorado and California. There were 23 high school seniors and two junior college transfers. Recruits filled out every position on the roster: two quarterbacks; two running backs; one tight end; four offensive linemen; four defensive linemen; two linebackers; six defensive backs; and two kickers. In all, the class of ’03 was just one offensive linemen away from fielding an entire new team.

The class of 2003, therefore, presents, as it was called by head coach Gary Barnett at the time, a “standard class”. Overall, the CU class was ranked highly by the recruiting services. Rivals.com had the Buffs in at #19 nationally. Others had the class pegged somewhere between 17th (TheInsiders.com) and 26th (SuperPrep). Said Jeremy Crabtree of Rivals.com: “It’s a top 20 class, there’s no question about it. It’s probably a top four class in the Big 12.”

The Stars

In retrospect, the star of the class of 2003 was Mason Crosby, to date the only player out of the 25 to make it to the NFL. Ranked by Rivals.com as the #3 place-kicker in the nation, Crosby chose CU over Texas and Oklahoma. Crosby went on to set a freshman scoring record at CU in 2003, and never looked back. By the end of his career in Boulder, Crosby held most of the season and career kicking and scoring records at Colorado. This past season, Crosby was the NFL’s leading scorer in his rookie season with the Green Bay Packers.

The other recruit from ’03 who may play on Sundays is Terrence Wheatley. Wheatley, who, like Crosby, came to CU from the state of Texas, was considered no better than the 56th best cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com (Scout.com had him in at #64). Of the six defensive backs signed by the Buffs, Wheatley was rated no better than fifth. All Wheatley did was blossom into a first team All-Big 12 cornerback in 2007, and was a semi-finalist for the Thorpe Award.

Familiar Names

As with every class, there will be under achievers and over achievers. In the first category, you would have to list the highest rated player of the 2003 class, safety Dominique Brooks. Brooks, also from Texas, was considered by Scout.com to be the 13th best safety in the nation, and was offered scholarships by, inter alia, Ohio State, Florida, and West Virginia. His career did not work out the way he or the coaching staff had hoped, however. Brooks played as a true freshman in 2003, starting three games. His playing time increased in 2004, as Brooks started the first nine games of the season. Injuries hampered his effectiveness in 2005, and Brooks did not play in what would have been his senior season in 2006.

Another player who did not have the impact expected of him in Boulder was linebacker Travis Berry. The highest rated of all of the ’03 class in the eyes of Rivals.com, Berry committed to CU from Louisiana. Virtually all of the SEC offered Berry, considered the 14th-best linebacker in the nation, a scholarship. Unfortunately, Berry never played a down for the Buffs. There is no mention of him in the 2004 yearbook, and no statistics recorded for the ’03 season. Whether Berry was injured or failed to qualify, I have been unable to determine.

On the flip side of the recruiting class were those players who did not merit much in the way of national consideration, but were record setters at CU. Wide receiver Dusty Sprague was considered no better than the 106th best wide receiver recruit of 2003 by Scout.com (though Rivals.com did have him at #39). Sprague was an all-around player at Holyoke High in Colorado before coming to Boulder, playing quarterback, running back, free safety, and, occasionally, wide receiver. Sprague had offers from Nebraska, Washington, and Oregon, but decided to stay home in Colorado. Despite never being the main receiver in the CU offense, Sprague nonetheless finished his career in Boulder ranked 9th in both career receptions (103) and career receiving yards (1,261).

Sprinkled throughout the class are names Buff fans will easily remember. Kicker Kevin Eberhart and kick returner Stephone Robinson are names familiar to Buff fans. The offensive lineman from the ’03 class were stellar, as Brian Daniels, Tyler Polumbus, and Edwin Harrison were mainstays for several years in the CU trenches (of the three, Harrison and Daniels were the most highly regarded; Polumbus more of a pleasant surprise). There were two quarterbacks in the class, Bernard Jackson and Brian White. The running backs were Daniel Jolly, who did see some action as a freshman, and Terry Washington, who ended up at a junior college before returning to CU to play as a cornerback. On the defensive side of the ball, other than Washington and Wheatley, the only other players still with the Buffs on the 2007 roster were defensive end Alonzo Barrett and defensive back Lionel Harris.

The Lessons Learned

The class of 2003 – good, bad, or something in between? Ranked 19th by both Scout.com and Rivals.com, one would have perhaps expected more than one (or perhaps two) NFL-caliber players. The 2003 class is to date the highest ranked class at CU this decade. For that lofty a status, one would have thought there would have been more in the way of wins. As a class, these players did earn two Big 12 North titles (2004 and 2005), bu were a part of three losing seasons.

What does this tell us about the class of 2008? Very little. All it does is serve to remind us that for every Mason Crosby there is a Travis Berry; for every Dusty Sprague there is a Dominique Brooks.

Check back in 2013, and we’ll take a look at how this year’s class held up against history.

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It Used to be a Mystery

It wasn’t all that long ago that the recruiting process was a mystery to many football fans, myself included. Granted, there have always been the true fanatics (plug in an SEC team of your choice here), but for many years, at least for most of us, there was little information to be found prior to signing day. Today, there is almost too much information, as we not only know about the CU recruits long before the first Wednesday in February, but also know their statistics, their official visit dates, and the other schools which they are considering.

When I was in Boulder (1980-’87), there would be an occasional story in the newspaper during the season about a local high school star who had committed to play for the Buffs (for those of you old enough to remember, there were the heady signings by local stars Jon Embree in 1983 and Eric McCarty in 1984). For the most part, though, signing day, or more correctly, the day after signing day, was when we read the local newspaper articles about the incoming class. True, with all of the losing seasons the Buffs were generating in the early to mid-1980’s, there was not a great deal of excitement about the program in September, much less February, but I would suggest that most college football fans across the country back then knew only that which was told them in a half page article the day after the letters of intent were signed.

After the Buffs’ national championship season in 1990, interest, and information, picked up. Back in Montana, The Buffalo Sports News became my lifeline to the program. The recruiting edition always came about the same time as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, and was almost as equally anticipated (give me a break – I wasn’t married then!). Still, the glowing accounts provided by the “hometown” magazine didn’t necessarily give me the entire picture. I would have to wait patiently until summer, when the preseason magazines would come out. Only then would I be able to check out how the Buffs’ fared in the national rankings to see just how good the class really was.

Unwilling and unable to wait for June to see how the Buff recruits measured up, I came up with my own grading system. With The Buffalo Sports News reports about each player, there were the usual details about height, weight, and speed. There were also the numerous mentions of a player being “All City” or “All District” or “All Region”. That meant little to me. I went straight for the “Chose CU Over” portion of the bio. It was there where it was indicated which other schools had offered scholarships to the new Buff. It was there where it seemed the most objective measurement of a player could be found.

I had three tiers for grading players. If a Colorado recruit had chosen CU over local schools, like CSU, Wyoming, and Utah (or, back in the day, Kansas and Kansas State), that player rated the lowest ranking. If the national powers weren’t offering this player a scholarship, I reasoned, there had to be a good reason why. If, on the other hand, a player who was willing to come to Boulder had chosen CU over other Big Eight powers, like Nebraska and Oklahoma, then this was a player from which much would be expected. Finally, if a player was being recruited nationally, and had chosen CU over the likes of Notre Dame, Michigan, and USC, then this was a player who seemed destined to be an impact player in Boulder (not that we had too many of those in the ’80’s).

Today, of course, there is up to the minute information about every recruit. Want to know which teams are being considered by the potential Buff? Or his official visit date? Or his high school statistics? Want to watch video of his high school gridiron highlights? It’s all just a click away. The saturation is almost – please note that I said almost – too much. There is certainly a part of me that enjoys getting a daily fix of information. There is also a part of me who remembers the day after signing day as being a bit like Christmas, when CU fans got to open their presents all at once.

There is far less mystery to the makeup of the 2008 CU recruiting class than there was to the classes of 1988 or even 1998.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the good ol’ days of not knowing?

Nah.

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But wait, there has got to be more!

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4 Responses to “Recruiting – A breakdown of the class by position / CU v. the Big 12”

  1. Evan

    Re Travis Berry, he showed up at Boulder for Fall ball and became immediately homesick and left CU (I don’t know if he even participated in practice it was that quick). I beleive he transferred to a small southeastern school, but not sure exactly.

  2. fred bradford

    As always, you do a great job. The analysis of the ’03 class provides a great perspective.

  3. CJ

    I am more hopeful in the 08 class vs. the 03 for the following reasons;
    -hopefully there will not be a recrutiting scandal.
    – coaching change, transition is hard on 20 year olds
    – Coach Hawk, I liked Barnett but feel Hawk is more dynamic
    – The Bubble
    – Pittmon and Hawk are on the same page
    All of these reasons should make the kids in the 08 class better (more NFL players and more post season awards)

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