Colorado Daily – March
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott calls the conference “undervalued”
A $3 billion television contract? Peanuts.
A network, wholly owned by the conference, which may bring even more revenue to the league than the television network? Just getting warmed up.
In an article in Broadcastingcable.com, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott indicated that the best may be yet to come. Speaking at the American Association of Advertising Agencies meeting in Los Angeles Thursday, Scott said “revenue from television is still a fraction of what it should be.” Ratings of big college football games are comparable to Monday Night Football NFL telecasts on ESPN, but rights fees are a lot less, he says, blaming a landscape with 31 division one conferences and a structure in which rights reside with the NCAA, with conferences and with individual schools for fragmenting the market.
The Pac-12 Network, coming in August, will have seven feeds. One will be national; the others will be localized, with Pac-12 networks in L.A., the Bay Area, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Mountain.
That should create opportunities for marketers. “With seven different feeds, we’ll be able to maximize audience from an advertiser perspective. It allows us to be very flexible and efficient in terms of a national platform,” Scott said. You can be a regional advertiser or a local advertiser. If you are company that just has business in the L.A. area, you can buy on the Pac-12 L.A. network.
The conference has also rolled up the digital rights to all the member school’s websites, creating a one-stop-shopping opportunity. “This is what pro sports do. We’re applying it for the first time to the college space.”
The network will launch in August after the Olympics and will air seven football games when the season starts Labor Day weekend.
Jordan Webb to become a Buff
As first posted at BuffStampede.com, former Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb has decided to become a Colorado Buff this summer, after graduating from the University of Kansas this spring. Webb will have two years of eligibility remaining. Webb chose CU over Wisconsin (which had pretty good luck with a senior transfer quarterback last season!), North Texas, and Murray State.
Last season, Webb was the quarterback for the 2-10 Jayhawks. Webb completed 179-of-281 passes for 1,884 yards, with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Webb was also sacked 31 times on the year.
As a red-shirt freshman in 2010, Webb’s numbers were as follows: 121-of-214, 1,195 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. Webb started games two through seven of the 2010 season, before being injured in the Texas A&M game and missing three contests.
Coming out of high school, Webb was considered a three-star prospect, rated as the No. 28 pro-style quarterback in the nation. Scout, meanwhile, had Webb ranked as the No. 44 quarterback in the nation. Rivals bio Scout bio
Bio: Webb arrived on the KU campus in the spring of 2009… A four-year letterwinner at Union (Missouri) HS … Was a two-time all-state first team selection at quarterback… Ranked as the 13th-best player in the St. Louis metro area by the St. Louis Post Dispatch… As a sophomore he was all-state second team… As a senior he threw for 3,100 yards and 31 touchdowns while rushing for 1,024 yards and 24 touchdowns… Team was 11-1 advancing to the state sectionals… As a junior he threw for 3,832 yards and 46 touchdowns… Played basketball and earned all-conference honors as a sophomore.
Good move – Webb brings competition to the Buff quarterback race. He also brings starting experience to a corps which is all but devoid of starting experience (Hirschman started one game last fall).
Bad move – Webb was 4-12 as a starter. His shining moment was his first game, leading the Jayhawks to a 28-25 upset of No. 15 Georgia Tech in 2010 (the week after opening game starter Kale Pick was ineffective in an embarrassing 6-3 loss to North Dakota State). After that … not so much (Webb was out for the 52-45 win over Colorado which sealed Dan Hawkins’ fate). Webb will also enter a competition in August, when Nick Hirschman and Shane Dillon will also be vying for the job. Can the Buffs have a three-way race decided in a handful of practices? Can the team unite behind a quarterbak annointed the week of the opener (think Cody Hawkins v. Tyler Hansen, 2008, 2009, and 2010)?
Nebraska having a hard time finding a basketball coach
Off-topic, but fun nonetheless …
Buff fans are (rightly) concerned that successful second-year head coach Tad Boyle might bolt from Boulder for (much) greener pastures.
Well, we at least know that we can add Lincoln to College Station as destinations for which Boyle is not willing to leave Boulder. After spurning an offer from Texas A&M last spring, Boyle has apparently let Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne know that he is not interested in coaching the Cornhuskers.
Osborne does have a $2 million contract to offer (about double what Boyle earned this year at Colorado), and Nebraska is building a new, state-of-the-art events facility which will look more like the Pepsi Center than the Coors Event Center.
Still, Osborne is having a hard time finding a taker. According to an Omaha World-Herald story, Boyle is one of many coaches who have already said “no” to the Big Red.
Also on the list of those not willing to cast their lot with the “N” … Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, Gonzaga’s Mark Few, VCU’s Shaka Smart, Ohio’s John Groce, UCLA’s Ben Howland, former NBA coach Reggie Theus, Oral Roberts’ Scott Sutton, Colorado State’s Tim Miles and Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Rob Jeter.
Click on the article, and check out the comments section underneath. My favorite: “… and this is all playing out exactly as I feared it would. It’s a good thing Husker fans don’t care about basketball, because TO is about to hire the biggest ‘D’ list, yawner coach of all time. And he’ll likely greatly overpay while doing it.”
Embree considered to be the worst coach in the Pac-12
The first of many negative preseason rankings …
The months of May and June are usually the slowest in the college football season, except for all of the preseason magazines which come out that time of year.
Late spring used to be a great time to be a Buff fan. National rankings, preseason All-Conference teams, bowl projections – CU was in the middle of all of that, and it made for great reading and even better arguments.
This spring, however, as has been the case for the past several seasons, will be a bleak one for the Buff faithful. Until proven otherwise, the numbers 3 (wins last year) and 6 (as in consecutive losing seasons) will continue to hang over the program like a black (with no gold) cloud. Throw in the loss of the Buffs’ starting quarterback, running back, and a good chunk of wide receiver production, and picking on CU will be easy to do.
And it’s already begun …
Athlon Sports has come out with its rankings of college coaches, and, perhaps not surprisingly, Colorado head coach Jon Embree is ranked last.
What Athlon had to say … “Considering he played under Bill McCartney at Colorado from 1983-86 and coached in Boulder from 1993-2002, Embree is a good fit for rebuilding the Buffaloes. However, this is his first head-coaching position, so there will be several bumps in the road. Embree inherited a relatively bare roster and led Colorado to a 3-10 record in 2011. The Buffaloes finished with two wins in their final three games, but were largely uncompetitive in most Pac-12 contests last season. Embree will get a couple of years to turn things around in Boulder, but until this team shows more progress, he will be ranked near the bottom of coaches in the Pac-12”.
All four of the new head coaches in the league were ranked above Embree, with former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach coming in at No. 3 (behind Oregon’s Chip Kelly and USC’s Lane Kiffin). New Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, formerly of West Virginia and Michigan, was ranked 5th. The other two new head coaches, Todd Graham at Arizona and Jim Mora at UCLA, were ranked 10th and 11th, respectively.
As with the basketball team forcing its way into the NCAA field of 64 on the field, so too will the football team have to earn respect by accumulating victories.
Until then, May and June each year will continue to be dark and dreary … at least at the newstands.
Kansas quarterback to spend a year or two with the Buffs?
Who said there wouldn’t be drama in the quarterback race this spring?
With Nick Hirschman out with a foot injury, the most anticipated position battle of the spring was supposed to become a coronation. Texas transfer Connor Wood was the odds on favorite, with only red-shirt freshmen John Schrock and Stevie Dorman to provide any challenge. The only issue of spring: Would Wood sew up the starting position this spring, or would Hirschman and incoming freshman Shane Dillon be given the chance to win the job come August?
Perhaps, however, Colorado may have a fourth option … and we’re not talking about walk-on Isaac Archuleta (see Spring Practice Notes, March 14th).
The Daily Camera is reporting that former Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb, a junior with two years eligibility remaining, may become part of the quarterback battle.
Webb, a two-year starter the past two seasons for the Jayhawks, will graduate from Kansas in May which enables him to transfer to any school without having to sit out the customary year under NCAA rules.
Webb told the Camera in an interview today he is interested in the Buffs because he sees opportunity in Boulder.
“That’s the main reason I’m leaving Kansas because I want playing time or at least an opportunity for it and if I go in and work hard at learning the offense and things like that I could have a good shot,” Webb said. Webb traveled to Boulder Thursday and will spend time with coaches and players over the next two days.
Kansas changed coaches this offseason firing former coach Turner Gill and hiring Charlie Weis. Webb said he made the decision to leave Kansas when Weis told him he would not be in the competition for playing time with the Jayhawks next season if he remained with the program.
Webb played in a multiple offense under Gill the past two years. He has nearly 20 career starts to his credit. He played in 12 games in 2011 completing 64 percent of his passes for 1,884 yards with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
He said the Jayhawks started fast last season and he was playing well early, but the whole team faded. Webb says he believes his skills would work well in the Buffs’ pro-style system.
“From talking to coach (Rip) Scherer, he definitely thinks I have the right attributes to fit into the offense,” Webb said.
Webb, who was a high school standout in St. Louis, said he plans to visit Wisconsin in April and has also been talking with North Texas and Murray State, a Football Championship Subdivision program.
Webb said he isn’t sure when he will make a decision about his future. He said the biggest factor in his decision will be the likelihood of earning playing time or maybe even a starting job wherever he goes.
March Madness, indeed …
Buffs giving several walk-ons their “Rudy” moment
Remember a few days ago, when we were making fun of Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain putting out a casting call to the CSU student body (see March 3rd story, below)?
Welcome to CU’s version of a student body tryout.
With the Buff defensive line short of warm bodies, Colorado has welcomed no fewer than three tryout walkons onto the practice fields this spring. The names Sarpong Mmorosa, Ben Bertsch and Thor Eaton might not become known to many in the Buff Nation, but they are out there this March, running drills and hitting sleds for the black-and-gold.
Other walk-on tryouts include (Zach Karr), a defensive back (Shaw Gifford), a linebacker (Scotty Jarvis), and an athlete (Jordan Aguilar-Wynn).
Here’s wishing the best to these brave souls willing to take on the varsity in practices this spring.
… And here’s hoping they aren’t needed on the field this fall.
Buffs finish third in NCAA ski championships
Vermont had a big day Saturday.
The Catamounts, like the Buffs, watched their men’s basketball team earn a tournament title, and a berth into the NCAA tournament.
Unlike the Buffs, though, the athletes from Vermont also had a national championship to celebrate, as the Vermont skiers became just the second school from the east (Dartmouth, 2007) to win the NCAA ski championships in the past 18 seasons.
There was nothing close about the final score, as Vermont ran away with the title, with a record 832 points (CU had 831 points in winning last season’s title). The Catamounts far out-distanced their rivals from the west, with Utah edging out Colorado for second, 671-670.
The third place finish represented the first time Colorado finished outside of the top two since 2007, when the Buffs also finished third.
“It was four days, and we came full circle,” CU head coach Richard Rokos said. “There were ups and downs, we went back and forth, we dealt with illness and not being at full strength. But everyone put in an honest amount of work and pushed hard.
“Vermont invested a lot into this, and did what it took to win. Congratulations to them, they didn’t have weaknesses here. Our Nordics always peak at the right (time), but for the first time a long time, it just didn’t happen. But the NCAA’s are unpredictable as I have said, and always will be. But that’s the beauty of it.”
Of the 12 skiers who raced for Colorado at the 2012 NCAA championships, seven earned All-American honors (three first team; four second team). Of the 12 participants in the championships, eight will be back to race for Colorado in 2012-13.
With the third place finish, Colorado picked up 85 points for the Learfield Director’s Cup, jumping from 33rd place into ninth with 227 total points as skiing was the first NCAA winter championship completed.
Buffs fall into fourth place at NCAA ski championships
My streak continues …
It was a beautiful day at Bohart Ranch, 16 miles north of Bozeman, Montana. With sunny skies and temperatures in the 40’s, the third day of the 2012 NCAA ski championships were spectator friendly. The University of Colorado was well represented in the crowd, with a number of fans surrounding the course sporting the black-and-gold. There was the obligatory over-sized CU flag. The Buffs even had a fan equipped with a tape of the CU fight song – and a bullhorn with which to broadcast it.
Still, all things considered, I should have stayed home.
My luck with traveling to watch the Buffs is well documented. I have been to numerous road games over the years, and have watched CU play bowl games in four different time zones.
My road record? One bowl victory. Just a handful of road wins.
Stated bluntly … the Buffs are often better off without me.
The streak continued this Friday, as I ventured out to Bohart Ranch to watch the CU ski team. Colorado entered the second half of the competition in third place, but well positioned to make a run at defending its national championship.
Those dreams came to an end Friday.
While the CU ski team did add two more All-Americans to its long list of honored Buffs, the overall results were poor. In the men’s 20K Classic, the CU men finished 7th, 15th, and 21st. Rune Oedegaard’s 7th-place finish earned him second-team All-American honors, but the overall results – 79 points for a team used to scoring in triple digits – dropped the Buffs further behind the leaders, Vermont and Utah.
The women’s run, though, was even more disappointing. Another top ten finish by Eliska Hajkova netted Colorado another second-team All-American, but the other two Buff skiers came in 19th and 33rd. The 57 total points earned was the lowest of the meet for any Buff trio this week.
The net result?
Colorado enters the final day of competition in fourth place. The Buffs have 495 total points, just behind Dartmouth College, which rose past Colorado with 510 points. The leader is the University of Vermont, with 614 points, followed by the University of Utah, with 522.
The deficit of 27 points between fourth place and second can easily be made up by Colorado on Saturday, the final day of the competition, but the commanding lead held by the Catamounts is all but insurmountable.
The men’s and women’s slalom runs will take place Saturday, which can provide some tension for a team leading the competition. A skier or skiers could catch an edge or a gate and not finish a run, and their team would pick up no points. For Colorado to defend its title, though, it would not only take a tremendous day from the six CU competitors, but a disasterous day on the part of the Vermont skiers. As the Catamounts were the best team in the east all season, though, the chances of that happening are slim.
What’s really left for Colorado is to try and finish in the top three at a meet for a school-record 32nd consecutive time, and post a first or second place finish for the 21st time in the past 41 championships.
Friday was moving day at the NCAA skiing championships. Vermont poised itself to become just the second team from the east to win the NCAA title in the past 18 years, and the first to win out west since the same Vermont team pulled out a victory at Jackson Hole in 1989. Colorado fans, conversely, were left to cheer for individual honors on Saturday and, perhaps, a second place overall finish.
And I was there to witness it all.
Sorry about that …
CU seniors make their case for 14 NFL teams
Last season, Colorado had two first round NFL draft picks, with Nate Solder going to the New England Patriots with the No. 17 overall pick, and Jimmy Smith going to the Baltimore Ravens with the No. 27 pick.
Despite one of the largest senior classes in CU history this past fall, it is highly unlikely that the Class of 2011 will be able to match the Class of 2010, either in first round picks, or even overall picks (four).
Still, the Class of 2011 does have some draft-worthy talent, and they were out to impress on Thursday for Colorado’s annual Pro Timing Day.
A total of 14 NFL teams – Arizona; Atlanta; Buffalo; Denver; Green Bay; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City; New England; New York Jets; Oakland; Pittsburgh; San Diego; Tampa Bay; and Tennessee – had scouts on hand to witness CU seniors run and jump.
The player most likely to be drafted, offensive lineman Ryan Miller, did not participate in much of the workout, as he was a participant in the NFL Scouting Combine last month.
Of those who did participate, the players who made the best impressions, according to the Buffalo Sports News, were wide receiver Toney Clemons, defensive back Travis Sandersfeld and fullback Evan Harrington, who all had great days in front of the scouts and likely increased their chances of getting a shot in the NFL.
Clemons not only flashed his speed, but his overall ability to run routes and catch passes, while Sandersfeld impressed scouts with his great physical tools, including his speed, strength and vertical leap. Harrington did the same, showing he may have what it takes to play fullback at the pro level.
“I’m very pleased with my day today,” Harrington said. “My goal was to run fast and jump high and just improve on all my numbers, and that’s what I did. A couple scouts came to me and said they wanted to talk to me afterwards, and my times are good. I’m just waiting it out hopefully something will happen.”
Harrington said he was optimistic about his chances of playing pro ball even before Thursday, but after his performance he said, “I feel much better about today.”
Sandersfeld turned in the second longest broad jump (10 feet, 6 inches) and the second highest vertical jump (37 inches) of the day along with some decent times in sprints and cone drills. Harrington also had some strong numbers, benching 225 pounds 29 times, better than every other Buff except Miller, who put up 32 at the combine. Harrington also showed he can catch the ball out of the backfield.
Clemons ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds on his first try and followed it up with a 4.36 sprint. Both were electronically timed.
“I feel like I helped myself a lot,” Clemons said. “I did a good job out there running around and showed the scouts a lot of things that they had questions about as far as how I can run, running routes, hand position, catching the ball, being explosive. I answered a lot of those questions. For me, they needed a clock on me. So to go out there and give them a time they can circulate was definitely a blessing.”
Sandersfeld hopes that his exposure to every position in the defensive backfield while at Colorado will help him get to the next level. Sandersfeld is considered a safety prospect in the draft, but one who can be used in coverage. “It’s significant,” Sandersfeld said of his exposure to different positions. “You see some of those safeties and they’ve got some tight hips. I’m not saying that I’ve got the best hips ever, but just playing corner allows you to open your hips and use them a little more. I think that is going to help me a long ways. And especially knowing the defense. I feel like knowing it from corner, safety, nickel and everything, you kind of know the defense and how it works and that has helped me, too.”
Two other big-name Buffs, quarterback Tyler Hansen and running back Rodney Stewart, made impressions, as well.
“I thought all my numbers were what I expected,” said Hansen, who has a good chance at getting a shot at going to an NFL camp in the fall. “Throwing-wise, I missed two throws; two throws I want back. That’s OK. I threw a lot of balls and I was sucking wind. It was a good day.”
Stewart was a little slower than he hoped in the 40-yard sprint, as he ran a 4.5 (but has been clocked at 4.4).
CU Ski Team moves into third at halfway point of NCAA championships
Four Buff skiers earned All-American honors as Colorado moved closer to the lead at the midway point of the NCAA ski championships at Bozeman, Montana.
Vermont, the No. 3 team in the nation coming into the races, has assumed the lead, as the Catamounts used five top 10 finishes in the giant slalom, including all three of its men in the top seven, to jump from second into first with 396 points. No. 1-ranked Utah also moved up a notch, lagging just 24 points behind with 372, while No. 2 Colorado improved from a fifth-place tie into third with 359 points. The Buffaloes, who were actually in second place after the women’s GS, were 60 points back after Wednesday’s Nordic freestyle races but pulled to within 37 of first in pursuit of its 19th national title in skiing.
Freshman Adam Zika cruised to victory in the men’s giant slalom, his 1.07-second win the largest in an NCAA giant slalom since 1980, when Vermont’s John Teague defeated teammate Tor Melander by 1.83 seconds. No other margin reached one full second until this year, though on a few occasions the difference was around 9/10s of a second.
How massive is a 1.07-second win? The difference between second and 16th place (or 15 skiers) Thursday was just 1.06 seconds.
The Colorado women, all seniors, had one of the best combined efforts overall in the NCAA’s in school history with all three placing in the top nine. The Buffs outpointed UVM, 108-104, to win the event as a team.
Erika Ghent led the way with a fourth place time of 1:42.68, earning first-team All-America honors, while Carolina Nordh tied for sixth (1:42.91) and Katie Hartman ninth (1:43.36), both earning second-team mention; the first-through-fifth performers are named to the first-team, the sixth-to-10th are on the second.
It was just the eighth time that all three CU lady skiers earned All-America honors in either the giant slalom (five times) or slalom (three), and only the third time with current structure with a three-skier maximum. They also became the first trio to do it twice.
Next up are the classical cross country races on Friday, with the men’s 20-kilometer up first at 9 a.m. MST, and the women’s 15k to follow at 11 a.m.
“The ‘Nordies’ were a little down yesterday, but tomorrow I think they’ll come back and be strong again,” Rokos said. “They’ll challenge themselves.”
CU’s cross country skiers have an incredible run of 14 straight meets with 400-plus points (the equivalent of a football team scoring 50 points) and has been the dominant program in the west if not the country over the past four seasons. Thus, the team goal Friday is to redeem itself in the classic and to put the Buffs in position to repeat as champions.
“You never know what is weaker or strong,” Rokos said going into the last two days. “On paper, we look stronger in slalom. But in slalom there are a few more sticks in your way on the way down the hill. The expectations are that we will be better in the slalom, and hopefully we’ll prove it.”
“It’s good to have a sizeable lead ahead of those behind you, that they’re not breathing down your back,” he concluded. “At the same time with Utah and Vermont ahead of us, it should give us some good motivation.”
The slalom races will finish off the NCAA meet on Saturday: the women’s first run is at 9:30 a.m., followed by the men’s first run at 10:30; second runs follow at 11:45 (women) and 1:00 (men).
NCAA Championship Team Scores (4 of 8 events) – 1. Vermont 396; 2. Utah 372; 3. Colorado 359; 4. Dartmouth 297; 5. Alaska-Anchorage 271; 6. Montana State 264.5; 7. Denver 232.5; 8. New Mexico 213.5; 9. Northern Michigan 154; 10. New Hampshire 136.5; 11. Middlebury 118; 12. Bates 74.5; 13. Williams 71; 14. St. Lawrence 65; 15. Harvard 63; 16. Colby 49.5; 17. St. Scholastica 49; 18. Alaska-Fairbanks 34; 19. St. Michael’s 14; 20. Michigan Tech 13; 21. Colby-Sawyer 11.
CU a disappointing fifth after first day of NCAA championships
Not the best start …
The defending national champion Colorado ski team expected several top 10 finishes and a couple of spots on the podium here Wednesday, but instead found itself in a tie for fifth place after the first two events in the 59th Annual NCAA Ski Championships.
No. 4 ranked Dartmouth was the surprise leader after the Nordic freestyle races, the Big Green amassing 214 points with a balanced gender attack (110 women’s, 104 men’s) on the strength of five top 10 finishes. Vermont, ranked No. 3, is in second with 183, buoyed by all three of its women finishing in the top eight.
Utah, ranked No. 1 in the nation, holds third with 179 points, followed by host Montana State in fourth (176) and then Colorado and Northern Michigan tied for fifth with 154.
It’s the first time since the sport went coed in 1983 that two eastern schools rank 1-2 in the standings, not only after the first day, but at any point in the NCAA title meet. Western schools have placed three in the top four in every NCAA championship dating back to 1993, and in all but one of the 29 previous coed meets – the lone exception came in 1992, when UVM won and Dartmouth placed fourth.
For the men on Wednesday, the Buffs’ top finisher was Rune Oedegaard, who finished 5th to garner first team All-American honors. For the women, Joanne Reid had the best day, finishing sixth, which netted her second-team All-American distinction.
Up next … After leading off with Nordic events on Wednesday at Bohart Ranch, the competition moves to Bridger Bowl on Thursday, for the men’s and women’s giant slalom. On Friday, we’re back to Bohart, where the men’s and women’s Classical Nordic events will take place. Then, on Saturday, the men’s and women’s slalom will close out the competition.
Colorado is still in the race for the overall title. As noted, above, eastern teams rarely hold up against their western brethren, and host Montana State only has two men who have qualified for the men’s alpine. Before it is all said and done, Utah is still likely the team CU has to beat, and the Utes only have a 25 point advantage on the Buffs after Wednesday’s competition.
If you would like to watch the event on line, you can do so at the NCAA’s website. The women’s giant slalom goes off at 9:30 a.m. MT on Thursday, with the men’s giant slalom scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m.
Colorado kicker may be heading home
According to the LA Times … UCLA kicker Kip Smith, who struggled through an injury-marred season, said he will transfer after the winter quarter.
Smith, who is from Broomfield, Colo., said he will look to play closer to his family.
“My dad has been sick, so I want to be closer to home,” Smith said. “The only school I’ve talked with so far is Colorado State.”
Smith, who was a redshirt freshman last season, tore quadriceps muscle in his leg early in the season and did not kick after the second game. He made two of three field goal attempts and seven of eight extra-point tries.
“I’m still doing some rehab, but I have started to kick again,” Smith said. “It’s getting there.”
Smith was considered the No. 1 kicker in the nation in the Class of 2010. Smith had offers from a number of schools, including Colorado, but only took official visits to UCLA and Minnesota.
Not able to land Smith, the Buffs signed Justin Castor from Arvada, considered to be the No. 22 kicker from the Class of 2010.
Colorado State in search of warm (and large) bodies
Toto, I don’t think we’re in Tuscaloosa anymore …
According to the Coloradoan, new Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain has made no secret of his concern about the lack of big bodies on his CSU football team.
So this week McElwain, who was the offensive coordinator at Alabama the past four seasons, put out a call for help from the Colorado State University student body, hoping to find a half-dozen or so big-bodied men among the school’s 26,735 undergraduate students that can help the Rams out during spring drills and, possibly, beyond.
“We’re in search of big bodies that want to come play,” McElwain said after scheduling a 5 p.m. meeting Monday in the McGraw Athletic Center auditorium for students, with valid IDs, who fit the bill.
McElwain didn’t include any specific height and weight guidelines but did say he was looking for men who had played the game in high school “that would relish the opportunity to put the pads on again and give it an opportunity to see what they could do.”
And, he said, if he didn’t think there were some students on campus who fit the bill, he wouldn’t have issued the call.
“There’s always a chance that there’s a diamond in the rough that comes to the top, and you get a chance to find a guy that really do some things for you,” offensive line coach Derek Frazier said.
Frazier, a former Rocky Mountain High School standout, said the goal was to have at least three lines of five players apiece available for spring practices, which begin March 21.
“If we can get about three or four great guys, I think it’s going to help us out,” Frazier said. “It’s going to help our team out, most importantly.”
CSU was hit hard by injuries last year on both the offensive and defensive lines. Senior defensive end Broderick Sargent, a former walk-on who tore the ACL in his right knee in last year’s season-opener, said the Rams could use more depth on both sides of the line.
“Guys on the D-line and the O-line, they’re valuable and they’re hard to find,” Sargent said. “So having those extra bodies will help. Guys need those reps in the spring, but you can have too many, too.”
While it is easy to have a laugh at the Rams, who have posted 3-9 records in each of the past three seasons, Buff fans need to bear in mind that Colorado has a similar problem. Due to a lack of defensive linemen this spring (none of the nine signed in February will be in Boulder until this summer), it is unlikely that the Buffs will have a Spring game on April 14th. Instead, CU fans will be treated to a Spring Scrimmage … for the second year in a row, and for the fourth year in the past seven.
Nick Hirschman looking forward to quarterback competition
Let the games begin …
Many in the Buff Nation have already anointed sophomore transfer quarterback Connor Wood as the next Colorado quarterback.
Not so fast, says fellow sophomore Nick Hirschman, the only one of the four quarterbacks around this spring who have actually taken a snap in a college game.
In limited action last fall (and one ignoble start), Hirschman completed 18 of 35 passes for 192 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
“I think it gives me an incredible advantage,” Hirschman said of his experience. “Things don’t look the same in practice. When I was younger playing on the scout team, it was a huge step to be playing in the real offense. Then going from playing in the real offense in practice to playing in the game is a whole other giant step. I think that on-field knowledge and that on-field experience and the roar of the crowd and seeing all those guys out there who are Division I athletes …”.
While detractors point to Hirschman’s poor performance against Arizona State in the red-shirt freshman’s first career start, there may have been an explanation.
He suffered a fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot late in August practices and underwent surgery. He rushed to come back and coaches believe he never was healthy again the rest of the season. Hirschman admitted in an interview this week that his coaches are right.
He underwent a repeat surgery this offseason and says he is nearly fully recovered, though doctors are still requiring him to wear a walking boot.
Hirschman told the Daily Camera that the injury caused him the most problems in his drop and not when planting and throwing. He said it made him appear slower and more methodical than he normally is.
“I’m sure that during the season it was always nagging me,” he said. “It was always a problem. I wasn’t able to do certain things that I’m so used to being able to do, that I’ve been able to do my whole career playing quarterback. It was a different perspective not being able to accomplish certain things. I think it definitely affected the way I played, but like I said, it’s not like I had a choice. I had to be out there for the team.”
Head coach Jon Embree recognizes that it will likely be a two-man race between the two sophomores – Wood and Hirschman – unless one of the red-shirt freshmen (John Schrock and Stevie Joe Dorman) impress this spring, or true freshman Shane Dillon impresses this fall. Embree indicated that he would like to name a starter this spring, but doesn’t know if that will be possible.
As to the battle between the two sophomores, Embree is amused at the outside attention the competition is already receiving.
“If I was Nick Hirschman, I’d be ecstatic because all the pressure is on Connor Wood and not me,” Embree said. “… I don’t have any preconceived notions and I know none of the coaches do either, which is the beauty of being able to be in this situation.”
Wood, though, did impress coaches and players last fall as a quarterback for the scout team. Embree did note this week that the only player to watch more film than Connor Wood last fall was starting quarterback Tyler Hansen.
Spring practices open Saturday, March 10th …
Offensive line prospects looking up
With less than ten days before the start of spring practices, the offensive line has some interesting storylines developing.
Junior David Bakhtiari, the Buffs’ top offensive lineman, will get spring looks at left tackle and guard. Embree said that experimentation would be done to determine the best five O-linemen. Bakhtiari started 11 of 13 games (injured for two) last fall at left tackle . . . . Another reason for the experimentation with Bakhtiari: Sophomore Alex Lewis’ development as a left tackle allows it. Embree said Lewis, who also was used frequently at tight end, “has a chance to be a very good player. I love his temperament and mindset. We’ve got to find a way for him to be on field if he continues to progress.” . . . . Redshirt freshman Stephane Nembot, an in-season transfer from offense to defense, will practice at right tackle behind returning junior Jack Harris. Harris missed most of the 2011 season with a foot/ankle injury. He’s full-go for the spring.
Colorado to have 77 players on hand for spring
The ever dwindling senior class.
With the departures of quarterback Brent Burnette and linebacker Vince Ewing, Colorado will play with eight – count ’em – eight seniors this fall.
Of the 77 players players on hand for spring practices (57 on scholarship), there are 8 seniors, 20 juniors, 32 sophmores, and 17 freshmen (15 red-shirt; two true).
Lacrosse star makes history
Talk about your all-time trivia question …
Tori Link will be forever a part of Colorado lore.
Link not only goes into the historybooks as the first lacrosse prospect to receive a scholarship offer from CU and its first committed recruit, but also the first recruit in the history of the school in any sport to receive a four-year scholarship offer.
The NCAA recently approved legislation allowing schools to offer recruits in all sports multi-year scholarships. Before that, scholarship were good for one year and subject to review annually.
Link told the Daily Camera the only uncertainty she had in the week she took to consider her decision was committing to a startup program that hasn’t even hired a head coach, let alone assistant coaches yet.
“A coach means a lot to me because obviously I’ve been on plenty of teams and it makes a difference when you have a good coach,” Link said. “The fact that I’m committing without a coach is a huge risk but it’s something I’m willing to do because I love CU and I want to play there.”
She said Bohn and Barry asked for her opinion on what qualities she would like them to seek in a head coach. Link said that meant a lot to her.
Link’s father, Rob, attended Boulder High School where he was a star tight end. He began his college career at Nebraska, and after an injury ended his football playing days, he returned home and finished his degree at CU — where he met his wife, Tori’s mother Sharon.
Link is an honor student at Cherry Creek. The high school junior was proud to be in position to be a part of history.
“Oh my gosh, it will hold a place in my heart for the rest of my life,” Link said. ” It will be something I tell my grandkids. It’s so exciting. I can’t believe it. I’m so honored.”