February 12th/13th

Markques Simas suspended

Before we can get to the fun speculation about Colorado joining the Pac-10, we still have to deal with the grim reality which is the present state of the Colorado Buffaloes football program. On Friday, it was announced that wide receiver Markques Simas has been suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. The junior-to-be had given the sagging Colorado passing game a glimmer of hope, posting three 100-yard games in the final four outings of 2009 (in the fourth game, Simas had 92 receiving yards).

“This is obviously disappointing, but we’re going to continue to emphasize our philosophy of excellence with class, and we will uphold our standards,” said Dan Hawkins in a released statement.

There was no mention in the release as to what team rules Simas violated, however, the Boulder Daily Camera has obtained a police report indicating that Simas was arrested for driving under the influence early Friday morning. Simas was pulled over for making an illegal U-turn, with blood alcohol tests revealing a BAC of .138, well over the legal .08 level.

No duration for the suspension has been set, but it may be lengthy. Simas missed his chance at playing as a freshman in 2008 due to academic ineligibility, and was suspended for the first two games of the 2009 season for violating team rules.

Robert Prince named wide receivers coach / passing game coordinator

Colorado has been expected to make changes in the coaching staff ever since the retention of Dan Hawkins was announced Thanksgiving day. An addition finally came on Thursday, when the Buffs named Robert Prince as the new Colorado wide receivers coach. Prince will replace Dan Hawkins, who coached the receivers in 2009. Prince will also serve as passing game coordinator. “Robert Prince has great experience, and will a positive energetic style that fits well with our staff,” said Dan Hawkins of his new assistant. “RP has a great understanding of the entire offensive structure, and not only possesses tremendous technical experience at the receiver position, but also has coordinator type abilities and talents.”

Prince comes to Boulder from the NFL. His resume includes a stop in Seattle, as wide receivers coach with the Seahawks (2009), in Jacksonville with the Jaguars (2007-08), and in Atlanta with the Falcons (2004-06). While with in Atlanta, Prince spent two seasons as an offensive assistant before moving to assistant quarterbacks coach.

Before coaching in the NFL, Prince had 15 seasons coaching in the collegiate ranks. His stops include Humboldt State  (1989-90), where Prince earned his masters in physical education, Montana State (1991), Sacramento State (1992-93), Colorado’s Fort Lewis College (1994-95), with stints in Japan and with Portland State before joining Dan Hawkins’ staff at Boise State (2001-03). While at Boise State, Prince spent two years as wide receivers coach, before adding the title of passing game coordinator in 2003. In his final season with Dan Hawkins, Boise State finished with a 13-1 record, and led the nation in scoring (43.0 points/game).

Having been gone from the collegiate game since 2003, there will be questions about Prince’s ability to recruit to Bouulder. However, those arguments will be met with the contention that Prince’s NFL experience will endear him to high school seniors.

Prince will get to start work with his charges in less than a month, with spring practice slated to begin March 6th.

February 10th

Getting an early start

The Dan Hawkins’ philosophy of recruiting has been to discourage early commitments. Hawkins wants players to take their senior year of high school to decide what is right for them, to explore their options. The rationale is that players who make informed decisions will make lasting and proper commitments.

Hawkins is in the minority.

Most coaches are looking to line up players earlier and earlier. Texas annually has most of its class signed up before the end of spring practice. By the time the season kicks off, the Longhorns are cherry-picking with their few remaining openings. USC received a verbal commitment this past week – from 13-year old quarterback David Sills. (This is not really ground-breaking news. Last season, Tennessee received a commitment a 13-year old. The interesting part of the story: The head coach on both occaasions? Lane Kiffin).

But I digress.

This year, Colorado actually received a commitment before spring practice for the first time since the Class of 2004.

The first member of the Colorado Class of 2011 is actually a holdover from the Class of 2009. Tulsa offensive lineman Shaun Simon thought that he was on his way to Boulder a year ago, but the on-line courses he took to finalize his high school transcripts were not accepted by the NCAA. Ineligible, Simon enrolled in Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. Simon red-shirted this past fall, but this past week re-committed to coming to Boulder as part of the Class of 2011. Simon does have the opportunity to re-open his recruitment, but he told BuffStampede.com that his commitment is solid. “I am sticking with Colorado, I’ve been through a lot with them,” said Simon. “They tried. They tried to get me qualified. It just didn’t happen.”

Simon doesn’t see qualifying as being an issue this time around. He took 15 credits this past fall, and is signed up for 18 credits this spring. “I’m going to graduate and get out to Colorado in January,” said Simon. “So I will be there next year for spring ball.”

Following in the footsteps of Mohler and Simmons?

The past two summers, Colorado fans have had to sweat out the eligibility of their junior college commitments. In 2008, linebacker Shaun Mohler had to pass eight spring classes to become a Buff. In 2009, wide receiver Andre Simmons did Mohler one better, passing nine classes to earn his black-and-gold uniform.

No such drama this summer.

Colorado signed two junior college players as part of the Class of 2010 – offensive lineman Eric Richter and linebacker Evan Harrington. Richter is already on campus, having enrolled for spring classes in Boulder. Harrington, meanwhile, is well on his way to graduating from junior college and earning his ticket to the Colorado sideline. “I actually only have to take three classes this spring – philosophy, statistics, and biology,” Harrington told BuffStampede.com. “I’ll be in Boulder this summer. I just have to keep focused so I can get there.”

What will Harrington, who will have three years to play two, bring to the Buffs? “I feel like I will bring the will to win,” said Harrington. “I also feel I will bring my leadership, because that is what I have been doing ever since I have been playing football. I was a captain on our team this year. I was a captain in high school. I was a captain in junior high school. I think I will just bring nothing but positive things. I am ready to help them win at Colorado.”

By qualifying without a marathon finals week, Harrington is already ahead of the junior college transfers of recent years.

February 9th

Is Darrell Scott coming back?

What started as a footnote in a Longmont Times-Call article this past weekend quickly became the hot topic in the Buff Nation. There were numerous reports – on radio, television, and in the newspapers (here is the link to Tuesday morning Daily Camera offering – http://www.buffzone.com/ci_14360972)  indicating that running back Darrell Scott might be returning to the team. The rumors were rampant, despite the fact that no one official – that would be Dan Hawkins, Darrell Scott, or the CU athletic department – had commented. Still there was a definite consensus that the discussions were at least taking place.

Even if Dan Hawkins, Darrell Scott and Darian Hagan – not to mention the rest of the team – could come up with a solution for Scott to return, there would remain the issue of Scott’s eligibility. Almost certainly out for the spring, there would be the possibility of Scott taking enough classes this summer to remain eligible to play this fall.

UPDATE: Darrell Scott says ‘NO” – So much for the resurrection. Darrell Scott has spoken, and he was unequivocal. “Nope, not at all,” Scott told the Daily Camera when asked if there was any truth to the  rumors about his return. “It is a lie. I do not plan on coming back.”

Hard to read any reticence in those statements.

Will we finally be able to put this one to bed? Probably not. Until or unless Scott enrolls at another school, the possibility of his return will remain enticing to Colorado fans.

February 6th

Buffs to have the look of champions

While the chances of the 2010 Buffs posting 11 wins are remote, they will at least take the field looking like champions. To honor the 20th anniversary of the national championship team, the Buffs will wear 1990-style throwback uniforms throughout the season. Colorado also announced that it will invite members of the 1990 team back to Boulder for the October 2nd matchup against Georgia, at which time the university will present each member of the 1990 team with a commemorative jersey.

The announcement was made by Bill McCartney at the recruiting luncheon on Thursday. “There is another reason,” said McCartney, who led the Buffs to 153 career victories. “It’s so this year’s team can feel the depth of the commitment and the resolve that these guys had to achieve that high standard. I personally believe that this year’s team, in that Georgia game, will see Colorado play with all their hearts.”

With Georgia a potentiatl top ten team in 2010, the Buffs can use all of the good karma they can get …

Under the knife

So far, only three Buffs have undergone off-season surgery. Defensive tackle Nate Bonsu, who played in all 12 games as a true freshman in 2009 (recording 15 tackles), suffered an undisclosed injury in winter conditioning drills, and will be unavailable for spring drills. Wide receiver Scotty McKnight and linebacker Doug Rippy both underwent minor knee surgeries after the end of the season, and both are a “full go” for spring practice, which starts March 6th.

February 5th

Questions remain about coaching changes

There were promises of changes in the coaching staff made back in November, when the controversial announcement that Dan Hawkins would be returning was made. To date, though, the only change has been the loss of defensive backs coach Greg Brown to Arizona.

There has been some shuffling made, with Ashley Ambrose, set to take over the wide receivers, moving back to coach the defensive backs, joined by former Buff Ryan Walters, who is assuming Ambrose’s former role as defensive technical intern.

The internet does have rumors that Colorado was attempting to hire a new offensive coordinator, or at least a quarterbacks coach, but that negotiations broke down last week. All Dan Hawkins said on signing day was that there was a pool of candidates being considered by Colorado, but that no timeline existed as to when a new coach might be hired.

Safety in Numbers?

Dan Hawkins noted at his press conference on Signing Day that the Buffs will have around 80 players participating in spring drills, which begin in just over a month (March 6th). There will be a total of 64 players on scholarship for the spring, with around the maximum allowed by the NCAA, 85, in uniform for the fall. Hawkins indicated that the highest number of scholarship players available for games previously during his tenure was 77.

While there is an increase in scholarship players on the Colorado roster, there are some players who will not be returning. Defensive tackle Eric Lawson is taking the same route being taken by running back Demetrius Sumler. Both players are graduating this spring, and will be taking advantage of an NCAA rule which will allow them to use their fifth year of eligibility at another school this fall. Other names familiar to Buff fans who are not returning this fall are kicker Ryan Aweida, quarterback Jerry Slota, and tailback Trevor LaBarge.

Red-shirt freshman wide receiver Terdema Ussery will not be in school this spring. Ussery has been granted a leave of absence from school to go home to Dallas to deal with “a personal family situation”. He is expected to return for summer school in June, and will have to have catch up on credits in order to be qualified for football in the fall.

Februar 2nd

Last minute fears/speculations

While not of the order of the Darrell Scott saga from three years ago, there is much hand-wringing going on in the Buff Nation about the choice of Louisiana quarterback Munchie Legaux. A long-time Colorado commit, Legaux has taken official visits to Arizona and Cincinnati, and it appears that the choice is down to the Buffs and the Bearcats. The announcement is supposed to come early on signing day (Legaux is, after all, on central time), so we won’t have to wait long for his decision.

Other than Legaux, it appears that Colorado is in pretty good shape with respect to the remainder of the class of 2010. Very few of the known commitments seem to be wavering, but the names of Justin Favors, Kyle Slavin, and Henley Giffon – oddly enough, all are tight ends – have been mentioned. With the defections of Danny Spond and Mister Jones already well chronicled, there may be few surprises on the list on Wednesday night.

Still, Colorado is in the hunt for a few more commitments. One name that may perhaps be the most likely to appear on the Buffs’ list from those who are still uncommitted is athlete Harold Mobley. The three-star player has had Colorado ranked highly for some time, and is reportedly down to Colorado and Nevada for his choices. Mobley has not given an interview since January 21st, and will make his announcement at 11:30 a.m., MST on Wednesday. Colorado was Mobley’s leading choice the last time he spoke, but he took an official visit to Reno the following weekend.

It would also not be a surprise if Colorado adds another name from the state of Hawaii on Wednesday. The Buffs already have offensive lineman Kaiwi Crabb from Honolulu, but there are other players from the Aloha State on the Buffs’ wish list (defensive tackle Foi Foi is only listed as a one-star prospect, but he has Colorado on his list of three favorites, and it would be worth it to get him just for the name). Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins was chastised in a Woody Paige column today about spending his final recruiting weekend in Hawaii, instead of Texas or California. Buff fans hope that the trip was not just an early vacation …

February 1st

Spond heading to South Bend

The first Colorado commit of the 2010 class has apparently finally made up his mind. Danny Spond from Littleton committed to Colorado in April, but then de-committed in November. After exploring other options, including Stanford and TCU, Spond has verbally committed to play for Notre Dame. “Just starting at the top, the coaches,” Spond told IrishIllustrated.com of his reason for choosing Notre Dame. “I got a real good feeling from coach (Brian) Kelly. He seems like just a really good man besides a good coach, and that’s what I was definitely looking for.”

As a result of Spond’s choice, the Buffs will likely be shut out of Rivals.com top ten for the state of Colorado. The Buffs offered most of the players on the list, but they are now all verbally committed to go elsewhere. The breakdown of the Rivals.com top ten has two players from the list going to Cal, two to Nebraska, two to Stanford, and one each to Notre Dame, Arizona State, Northwestern, and Texas A&M. (The Aggie recruit is running back Mister Jones, who was also a Colorado commit. There remain rumors that Mister Jones may still end up as a Buff).

One of the new Buffs to gray-shirt

While Danny Spond said “no” to Colorado over the weekend, three other players said “yes”. One of the three, offensive lineman Alex Lewis, is planning to gray-shirt, meaning that Lewis will delay his enrollment until next January, and will count against the Class of 2011. “Gray-shirting is a great idea, because I am still only 17 years old,” Lewis told BuffStampede.com. “My  dad (Bill Lewis, former Cornhusker and NFL veteran) and I figured it would give me an extra half year to grow, mature into my body. I think it will be great.” Lewis is 6’6″, but at present weighs in at only 255 pounds. There is plenty of body yet to fill in, so it sounds like gray-shirting Lewis is good for Alex and his new teammates.

 

January 31st

Buffs pick up three last minute commitments

Linebacker/running back/quarterback/tight end/athlete Justin Torres came to Boulder for an official visit this weekend, the last weekend before signing day, without a scholarship offer. He received an offer during his trip, however, and has accepted, becoming the 19th-known member of the Colorado recruiting class of 2010.

According to Scout.com, Torres (more on “J.T.”, below, under January 30th – “Last minute visitors”), who is 6’1, 225 pounds, will likely be slotted at fullback. Torres played quarterback for Mike Moschetti at La Mirada high in California, but is versatile and strong enough to play running back, H-back, and tight end. He is rated as a two-star player by Scout.com … as a middle linebacker.

Clearly, Torres has talents which extend to many positions. This is good news for Colorado fans, as there are many holes – running back, fullback, tight end – which need to be filled.

Welcome, J.T., to the Buff Nation!

Also committing to the Buffs this weekend was offensive tackle Alex Lewis, from Phoenix, Arizona. Lewis is considered a three-star prospect, the 86th-best offensive tackle prospect in the nation. Lewis is 6’4″, 255 pounds, and committed to Colorado after taking official visits to Michigan State and UNLV the past two weekends. It looked like Lewis was going to commit to Michigan State after his visit to East Lansing two weekends ago, but Lewis decided to take two more visits before making his final decision. Lewis may compete immediately – but not at offensive tackle. Lewis may be asked to try and fill the shoes of Justin Drescher, who was the Buffs’ long-snapper for the past four seasons.

One other piece of information you need to know about Lewis … just like cornerback prospect Jered Bell, Lewis’  father played for Nebraska. His father is Bill Lewis, who played in Lincoln before going on to an eight year NFL career.

The other late commitment comes from running back Cordary Clark, from Phenix City, Alabama. Clark was slated to take an official visit to Western Kentucky this past weekend, but came to Boulder instead. At 6’2″, 220 pounds, Clark is the second big back to commit to Colorado this weekend. Clark was an all-conference player this past season, rushing for 817 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also had 192 yards and two touchdowns receiving. Clark’s offers from Division 1-A schools were limited to Arkansas State, Tulsa, Western Kentucky, and Army.

January 30th

Last minute visitors

The last weekend before signing day – are the Buffs hosting any last minute visitors?

The only visitor being reported by Rivals or Scout is athlete Justin Torres, from La Mirada, California. Torres was not highly recruited, but that is not keeping his head coach from singing his praises. “He is an absolute stud,” said co-head coach Mike Moschetti (yes, that Mike Moschetti, quarterback for the Buffs in 1998-99). “Justin is one of the best all-around athletes I’ve ever been around.” At quarterback in 2009, Torres, who is 6’1″, 225 pounds, led his team to a 13-1 record and a conference championship. Moschetti envisions Torres playing tailback, though Torres could also fit in as an H-back or tight end.

Though Torres does not yet have an offer from a Division 1-A school, that may change quickly. UCLA (Torres took an unofficial visit to Westwood last weekend), Arkansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Wyoming, and San Diego State all have expressed an interest. “Justin just wants an offer,” said Moschetti. “He doesn’t care about staying close to home.”

Any other visitors? None are listed by Rivals or Scout, but there are reports that Heath Davis, a 6′ 0″, 180-pound wide receiver prospect from Aurora, is on campus. Also reportedly checking out Boulder is offensive tackle prospect Alex Novosel from Littleton. Novosel is 6’6′, 255, and currently only holds offers from 1-AA schools. Finally, three-star offensive tackle prospect Alex Lewis may also be in town for the final weekend of recruiting. Lewis has offers from Air Force, Michigan State, and UNLV, and took official visits East Lansing and Las Vegas the past two weekends.

Davis and Novosel may be asked to join the team as preferred walk-ons. The Buffs already have two …

Known Preferred Walk-ons

The most highly publicized preferred walk-on for the 2010 class is athlete Justin Gorman, from Manheim, Pennsylvania. Gorman, who is 6’1″, 190 pounds, played quarterback in 2009, becoming the first player in school history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. Gorman, who will have no trouble qualifying, had an offer to attend Penn on scholarship, but chose to walk on at Colorado, with the opportunity to pick up a scholarship in 2011. “I just love it out there,” Gorman told BuffStampede.com after his official visit January 15th. “Turning down an opportunity to get a degree from Pennsylvania’s business school was tough, but I feel good about my decision.” While a quarterback in high school, Gorman will switch positions for college. “Colorado wants me to play slot receiver, and I’ll also do punt and kick returns,” said Gorman. “After the first year, if I compete at the level they think I can, I’ll be on scholarship after that.”

The other known preferred walk-on is running back Josh Ford, who was a preferred walk-on at Kansas State last season after a great career at Mullen high school in Denver. After injuring his wrist last summer, Ford did not enroll at Kansas State, grey-shirting this past fall. Ford will not be on campus until this summer, continuing to take classes at a junior college in Kansas this spring. “I’m still looking forward to transferring to Colorado. I plan to this summer,” Ford told BuffStampede.com a few weeks ago. “I want to help the team, and eventually earn a scholarship.”

While Colorado does not differentiate between a “walk-on” and a “preferred walk-on”, the final 2009 roster does list 30 walk-ons, including a few names familiar to Buff fans: wide receiver Jason Espinoza; tailback Quentin Hildreth; cornerback Arthur Jaffee; quarterback Seth Labato; tight end Luke Walters; and wide receiver Kendrick Celestine (who was given back his scholarship on Christmas Eve). Depending on how the final numbers on the recruiting class of 2010 work out, count on some of these players being on scholarship for 2010.

January 28th

Hemschoot chooses Stanford

In a move sure to be disheartening to Colorado fans, linebacker Joe Hemschoot, a three-star linebacker prospect from Lakewood, Colorado, has chosen Stanford over Colorado and Oregon. Why Stanford? “My heart, the people, the football on the rise, and the strength of the degree after I graduate,” Hemschoot told BuffStampede.com.

Assuming Danny Spond is going elsewhere (see below), Colorado would be shut out of the top ten players in the state of Colorado for the 2010 recruiting class. The highest rated Buff-to-be amongst the Rivals.com top 15 players in Colorado is tight end Kyle Slavin, who is considered the 11th-best player in the state. Two players in Rivals top ten in the state are heading for Nebraska, with the top two players from this recruiting cycle, defensive end Chris Martin and quarterback Austin Hinder, heading to Berkeley to be on the sidelines to face the Buffs as California Bears.

CU back on Spond’s radar?

Quarterback/linebacker/athlete Danny Spond, who was the first Colorado commitment last April, but who de-committed in November, has not completely discounted the Buffs. Spond has taken official visits to Stanford and TCU the past two weekends, and is taking his official visit to Notre Dame this weekend. In the meantime, Spond took a drive up from Littleton to Boulder on Thursday to meet with Dan Hawkins, athletic director Mike Bohn, and chancellor Phil DiStefano. “I believe coach Hawkins is a great man, a great coach,” Spond told the Denver Post. “He took over CU when it was a mess, and it takes time to rebuild.” Spond did not report that the meeting had swayed him to stay in state, only reporting that “it was a great meeting.”

According to IrishIllustrated.com, though, the race for Danny Spond is down to two teams, and Colorado is not one of them. In the article, Spond reported that he has eliminated Stanford from consideration. “Sometimes you just gotta tell people ‘no’, and that’s what I had to do,” said Spond. “It just didn’t feel right (at Stanford).” The same article quoted Spond as saying he had reduced his choices to two schools: TCU and Notre Dame.

If the report is accurate (it came out Thursday), it begs the question: If Spond wasn’t still considering Colorado, why make the trip to Boulder? Why not just tell CU ‘no’, like he did Stanford?

Maybe Spond did just that after his meeting with Hawkins, but perhaps not. We may not know until Wednesday. “I try to keep everyone on their toes,” said Spond, about not announcing his decision until signing day.

One more reason to check in on February 3rd …

 January 27th

Seven days to go …

and there is not much enthusiasm in the Buff Nation for the 2010 recruiting class.

There are 18 known verbal commitments to the class at this time. Twelve are on offense: two quarterbacks; two running backs; two wide receivers; three tight ends; and three offensive linemen; while six are on defense and special teams: two defensive linemen; two linebackers; one defensive back; and a kicker/punter. The speculation is that Colorado is looking to sign a class of 21 or 22, so there are still some players out there who we don’t know about for sure who will become Buffs next Wednesday.

One player who may defect from the list above is quarterback Munchie Legaux. Despite a November commitment, along with his teammate, wide receiver Keenan Canty, Legaux has been coy about making a final decision. He took an official visit to Arizona in January, and has indicated that he will make a final announcement on signing day.

Another “soft verbal” on the board is tight end Justin Favors, from Trotwood, Ohio. Favors gave Colorado his commitment back in November, but took a December trip to Syracuse, and holds offers from a number of MAC schools.

There are two players Buff fans can count on for the Class of 2010 – junior college offensive lineman Eric Richter, and quarterback Nick Hirschman. This is not due to their strong reaffirmation of their verbal commitments, but by their actions … both are already enrolled and are taking classes this spring. Richter signed his letter of intent on December 16th, becoming the only junior college transfer (at least so far) of the Class of 2010, while Hirschman decided he would rather be learning the Colorado playbook this spring than attending his senior prom.

Who else is out there?

With 12 offensive players to only five defensive players in the class, you might think that Colorado, in the final week, would be focusing almost exclusively on defense. Such may not necessarily be the case, but two locacl defensive standouts are attracting a great deal of attention. The word from linebacker Joe Hemschoot, from Lakewood, Colorado, may come as early as this week. According to BuffStampede.com, Hemschoot had a home visit with Colorado linebacker coach Brian Cabral and defensive coordinator Ron Collins on Monday night (Jan. 25th). On Tuesday, Hemschoot was scheduled to meet with a Stanford coach, with Oregon head coach Chip Kelly making his final pitch to Hemschoot on Wednesday night. Thursday may be the day.

“I have been pretty overloaded with information the last month, to be honest,” said Hemschoot. “I’m just kind of reaffirming some stuff.” Colorado does have the home field advantage, “The major factor that would lead me to go to CU would be staying close to home, and the fact that my parents could come to the games,” but no team has a decided advantage – “No, it is really close between all of them, to be honest,” said Hemschoot.

The loss of Littleton linebacker Danny Spond would be particularly dis-heartening for Buff fans. The four-star prospect was the first Colorado commit, back in April, 2009. He later de-committed, and Colorado has been an out-bet ever since. This past week, Spond received an offer from Notre Dame, and it appears that the Irish, along with Stanford and TCU, will be waiting for Spond’s decision on signing day. The Buffs were his first choice, and it’s not over until it’s over …

Names of other players which Colorado has extended offers, and who are still considering the Buffs, include the following:

Running back Erick Howard (four stars, from North Canton, Ohio); linebacker V.J. Fehoko (three stars, Honolulu); James McConico (three stars, Compton, California); defensive tackle Sealii Espenesa (three stars, from Honolulu); offensive tackle Alex Lewis (three stars, Phoenix, Arizona), tight end Harold Mobley (two stars, Corona, California); offensive guard Zak Tait (Knoxville, Tennessee); and defensive tackle Foi Foi (two stars, Kapolei, Hawaii).

Much will take place in the next week (remember, Joe Hemschoot’s announcement could come as early as Thursday).

I’ll keep you posted …

Latest on Buff Millionaire Club – “Explore it”

The Denver Post on Wednesday afternoon posted a story following up on the Woody Paige column from this past Sunday.

 “Explore it” was the word from University of Colorado President Bruce Benson on Wednesday. Benson suggested that CU Chancellor Phil DiStefano and Athletic Director Mike Bohn look into the options surrounding raising $50 million for the athletic department through the donations of $1 million by 50 individual donors. According to Benson’s spokesman, Ken McConnellogue, Benson and George Solich, the name associated with the movement, met “a couple of weeks ago”, and are long-time friends.

For now, everyone is preaching caution. “Certainly, we want to work with people who want to help us,” said McConnellogue, “(but) it’s not like we have a ’50 for CU’ program in place”. Added Athletic Director Mike Bohn, “it is still premature” to discuss any fund-raising program, noting, “We’re not at that point yet.”

Sad to say, as much as I like to keep up to date on this emerging story, it might be best if it stayed out of the news until the parties involved can come up with a plan. What if Solich can only put together 25 donors? Would an additional influx of $25 million be seen as a failure?

It wouldn’t have been viewed as such a week ago …

January 26th

Woelk weighs in on “Millionaire Buff Club”

The Woody Paige article in the Denver Post Sunday continues to attract attention. The Daily Camera columnist Neill Woelk weighed in Tuesday, and had some interesting comments (link to entire article … http://www.buffzone.com/ci_14268267). Woelk did not discount the possibility of fifty Colorado boosters each contributing a million dollars, going so far as to say about George Solich, who is reportedly leading the charge, “If such a plan indeed comes to fruition – and given Solich’s background, I wouldn’t want to bet against him – it could be the beginning of a new era of Colorado athletics.”

Of course, even $50 million will not cure all of Colorado’s ills, but there would be much to celebrate. Facilities upgrade, extra dollars for assistant coaches, overall upgrade of the attitude inside and outside of the program. (It can’t hurt, with a week to go before signing day, to have even a rumor about the program receiving an influx of millions of dollars).

Woelk also addressed the concern of having outside influence becoming an issue. He discussed the potential for abuse of power by T. Boone Pickens at Oklahoma State and Phil Knight at Oregon. Woelk agrees with most fans, though, “if you’re going to compete in today’s world, if you’re going to engage in the arms race that is college sports, that is the price of competition.”

Woelk refers in his article to a Forbes magazine article, in which the most valuable programs in college football are rated. Not surprisingly, Texas is rated first on the list, with $82 million in football revenue and a profit of $59 million (Colorado, by comparison, generated $27 million in total revenue, and a negligible profit). Also in the top twenty on the Forbes list are Nebraska (No. 4), Oklahoma (No. 10), Texas A&M (No. 18), and Oklhahoma State (No. 20). Detect a trend here?

Here is the article from Forbes … http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/0118/college-football-2010-notre-dame-texas-team-valuations.html

Coming Wednesday (or Thursday – I have a meeting Wednesday night) – one week to go before signing day. What is left to look for? What is there to be excited about? Concerned about?

January 24th

Will George Solich become Colorado’s Phil Knight?

While it is unusual for Woody Paige to have “scoop”, there is a story in the January 24th Denver Post       http://www.denverpost.com/colleges/ci_14256203  that a number of wealthy Colorado boosters are teaming up to try and raise $50 million for the beleagured CU Athletic Department. Led by former student George Solich, who is President of Cordillera Energy Partners, the concept is to have 50 Colorado boosters each pony up $1 million, with the goal to improve facilities and attract top-quality coaches and players to Boulder.

Paige got Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn to acknowledge that such a proposal is a “positive vision” and a “good model”, with Bohn still taking pains to note that there was nothing official to report. The story also cautioned against a backlash in what Paige called the “Republic of Boulder” to having money and outside influence directed toward the athletic department.

In my opinion, this would be a godsend for the Colorado Athletic Department. The Buffs like to fancy themselves as being one of the elite programs nationwide, but the reality is that Colorado is falling behind in this particular arms race. If the Buffs want to compete in the Big 12, it will take dollars to make that happen.

To those who are concerned about the impact of outside dollars (and their potential influence over programs), I would ask them to follow up with Oklahoma State, and see if the Cowboys’ marriage to T. Boone Pickens is one they wish to sever. Or perhaps place a call to the Oregon athletic department, which has pocketed $70 million of Nike money from Phil Knight (okay, the uniforms are god-awful, but we’re talking big picture here).

I’ll break out the champagne when the checks are actually cashed. For now, though, with the Colorado football team mired in a four season losing streak, and the men’s basketball team continuing its odyssey to try and find a way to win on the road against someone better than Chaminade, I’ll take any good news I can get …

January 21st

Two Buffs arrested

It has been quite for some time since the Buffs have had players in the police reports, but that is true no longer. Two Buffs, red-shirt freshman quarterback Clark Evans, and red-shirt freshman offensive lineman Gus Handler, were ticketed on separate charges, and will face disciplinary action by the Colorado Office of Judicial Affairs.

Evans was ticketed was ticketed for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, while Handler was issued a summons for stealing two headbands, valued at less than $50.00. “Coach Hawkins is aware of the issues and disciplinary action will be finalized once the cases are resolved,” Dave Plati told the Boulder Daily Camera.

Of the two, Evans is least likely to face any serious problems with the coaching staff. The alleged infraction is considered a petty offense (hey, this is Boulder, after all), and is subject to “a warning, and other disciplinary action”. Look for Evans to be disciplined, but not suspended, by the Buffs.

Handler was identified by video surveillance as leaving the campus bookstore with the headbands. He also left behind his credit card. Handler’s version of events was that he was running late, and just forgot to pay for the merchandise.

While it is never fun to read about Buffs running afoul with the legal system, it has to be remembered that there are over 100 young men on the team, and they are not all going to make the right decisions every time. Both players are red-shirt freshmen, and the offenses are ones which occur on every college campus in America every day. Hopefully, the University will not over-react, and, after the appropriate disciplinary actions are taken (whatever happened to running the stadium stairs at 7:00 a.m. as a punishment?), Evans and Handler will learn from their mistakes, and will move on to become productive players and students.

January 20th

Random news

The deadline for non-seniors to declare for the NFL draft came and went last weekend, with 53 players qualifying to forego further college eligibility. The number was the same as in 2009, though the speculation had been that the number would be significantly higher this year, as there has been speculation about the NFL imposing rookie salary caps in 2011.

Of interest to Colorado fans are the eight players on the list on teams which the Buffs will face in 2010. Four of the early entries are Oklahoma Sooners, led by quarterback Sam Bradford. The second-ever player to ever win the Heisman trophy as a sophomore, Bradford was a favorite to become the second repeat winner in history, when his 2009 season was cut short by injury. The other offensive player who will not be on the field in Norman when the Buffs come to town on October 30th is tight end Jermaine Gresham. In 2009, Gresham had 66 catches for 950 yards and 14 touchdowns (Riar Geer, for comparison’s sake, had 36 catches for 402 yards and four touchdowns – and Geer was the only Buff to be asked to a post-season All-Star game). Lost from the Oklahoma defense will be Dominique Franks, a two-year starter at cornerback, and defensive tackle Gereld McCoy, a two-time All-Big 12 player- and the only junior who made the list of finalists for the Lombardi Award in 2009.

Other players who will be playing in the NFL next season include:

Cal running back Jahvid Best. Early in 2009, when the Golden Bears were ranked No. 6 in the nation, Best was a Heisman contender. Later, after Cal was thumped in succession by Oregon and USC by a combined score of 72-6, Best, along with his team, fell from grace. Still, Best had already posted 1,580 yards by the time he suffered a season-ending concussion against Oregon State in game nine of the 2009 season;

Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe. If you are a Colorado fan, you are not sorry to see Briscoe go pro. In 2009, Briscoe had eight catches for 154 yards and a touchdown against the Buffs. On the season, Briscoe posted 92 catches for 1,407 yards and 15 touchdowns;

Georgia loses two defensive players, cornerback Reshad Jones and linebacker Rennie Curran. This past season, Curran led the SEC in tackles, with 130. An All-SEC selection, Curran finished his three-year career in Athens with 298 total tackles.

Coaching Changes

In 2009, Colorado faced four first-year head coaches (five, if you count the return of Bill Snyder to Kansas State). In the non-conference schedule, the four head coaches facing the Buffs had a combined one year at the helm at their schools (Bill Stewart was entering his second season at West Virginia).

In 2010 – at least so far – the numbers are not as high. There will be only two new coaches on the opposing sidelines, and both will be for teams replacing the all-time leaders in wins at their schools. At Kansas, Turner Gill moves from Buffalo to Lawrence, taking over for ousted Mark Mangino, while in Lubbock, Texas Tech legend-in-the-making Mike Leach is gone, replaced by former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville.

Okay, who had Mangino and Leach in their pool of coaches to be fired? … and had Dan Hawkins returning?

January 18th

Justin Castor commits

Kicker/punter Justin Castor (background story posted below) decided not to take his trip to Arizona State next weekend after all. The former Kansas commit decided after his official visit to Boulder this past weekend to end his recruitment and give his pledge to Colorado. “The recruiting process has definitely been a roller coaster ride in terms of emotions,” Castor told Rivals.com, “but everything worked out for the best.”

Castor made only 15-of-24 field goal attempts his senior year, but several of those attempts were well beyond the realm of the reasonable, including a 69-yard attempt. As a punter, Castor averaged 43 yards per kick, and collected 30 pass receptions for 607 yards and seven touchdowns. “Ever since Colorado offered me, I had a feeling I was going to end up committing to them,” said Castor, who had been a long-time Kansas commit, only changing after head coach Mark Mangino was fired. “I had been up to Boulder before, but to be around the coaches and players for two days really gave me a chance to learn about them and get to know them. I really think the staff up there is great.”

Castor will become the third scholarship kicker on the Colorado roster, joining Aric Goodman, who will be a senior in 2010, and Zach Grossnickle, who will be a red-shirt freshman.

Trea Jones makes it 18

A North Carolina running back, not even on the recruiting services official visit list last Friday, became the Buffs’ 18th commit of the 2010 class  as soon as he was offered this past weekend. Trea Jones, a 5’11”, 187-pound running back from Wake Forest, North Carolina, was “ready to be a Buff” on Sunday. “Colorado offered me while I was on my visit, and I committed on Sunday,” Jones told BuffStampede.com. “Coach Hawkins was pretty excited when I told him.”

Jones had attracted interest from a number of ACC schools, being named Conference Player of the Year after rushing for 1,651 yards and 17 touchdowns in fourteen games this past fall. North Carolina, Wake Forest, and North Carolina State were amongst those scouting Jones, who fractured an ankle in the third round of the state playoffs. “I am still rehabbing the injury, but I’m off crutches,” Jones reported. “I am walking on it and it is getting a lot better.” The Buffs must have been satisified that Jones’ health was not a major concern, because Colorado needs immediate help at the running back position – down to three with the losses of Darrell Scott and Demetrius Sumler.

Jones is excited about the possibilities . “With their running back situation, I have a good chance to get on the field if I work hard over the  summer and going into the school year,” he said. Jones joins Tony Jones from Ramsey, New Jersey, as running backs who have given Colorado verbal commitments for the class of 2010.

Other Visitors

Last Friday, there were four names on the visit list for this past weekend: running back Tony Jones and tight end Henley Griffon, who had both already committed to the Buffs; kicker Justin Cantor, who committed on Sunday, and quarterback Justin Gorman, who the Buffs are hoping will come to Boulder as a preferred walk-on. We now know that there were three other visitors on campus over the weekend, including Trea Jones. What about the other two?

First, a bit more about Justin Gorman, who we knew was coming (see January 14th/15th update, below). Gorman told BuffStampede.com that Colorado is still looking at him to come to Boulder as a preferred walk-on. “I would be coming in to play slot receiver,” said Gorman, who played quarterback this past season at Manheim Central high in Pennsylvania. “They want me to come in and prove myself since I would be playing a different position.” While Gorman has offers from some smaller schools, he is still looking at Colorado as an option. “I know what direction I am leaning toward,” said Gorman, “but I am going to keep that to myself for now.”

The highest ranked of the other visitors this past weekend was cornerback Urell Johnson, from New Orleans. Johnson is considered the 59th-best corner in the nation by Rivals.com, but is not likely to play for Colorado. Johnson committed to Southern Mississippi last summer, re-opened his recruitment, then committed to Texas Tech. For now, even after his trip to Boulder, Johnson remains a Red Raider, “but Colorado is still in the mix,” Johnson told BuffStampede.com. Johnson will take an official visit to Illinois next weekend, then make his final decision.

The seventh and final visitor this past weekend was Joe St. Germain, from Santa Clara, California. Nominally a tight end prospect, St. Germain is looking to fill a starting role at another position – long-snapper. Remember the names Justin Drescher and Greg Pace? It’s okay if you don’t. In fact, they would probably be honored that you are readily familiar with them. Drescher just completed his fourth season as the Buffs’ long-snapper, and Pace did it the four years before Drescher. Long-snapper is one of those thankless jobs that only is noticed when it is not done well. Colorado has been blessed with two good ones the past eight years, and is in the market for a replacement. Joe Silipo, a walk-on defensive tackle, is presently the only long-snapper in the lineup, so the Buffs do need another long term quality snapper. St. Germain was in Boulder this past weekend, and will be visit Virginia Tech next weekend, before making a decision.

All in all, not a bad weekend for Colorado. The Buffs picked up a quality kicker to compete in an area of known weakness, and a running back to add to a depleted corps in the backfield. Picking up Gorman and St. Germain, while they might not add to the style points of the 2010 class, would certainly add much needed depth.

It’s a fun time of year, Buff fans!

 

January 14th/15th

Weekend visitors

Four players are known to be making official visits this weekend. Two have already said “yes” to Colorado coaches. One visitor is not traveling far – just up the Boulder Turnpike – but isn’t sure about becoming a Buff. The final one is hard to understand … until you hear his story.

Running back Tony Jones committed to the Buffs about a minute after he was extended an offer on January 5th. The three star recruit has never been to Colorado, but he is not worried about what he will find. “I’m pretty sure everything is nice out there,” Jones told BuffStampede.com. “I’m just hoping everything will go well. We’ll see when I’m out there.” One observer who believes Colorado will be very pleased with this (much needed) running back is Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell. “I love Tony Jones as a player,” said Farrell. “I honestly think he has the chance to be a huge surprise in college football like Ray Rice was at Rutgers or Steve Slaton was at West Virginia, and Colorado could have landed the surprise of the 2010 class.” Heady stuff, considering the only other official visit for Jones is to Maine. “If (Jones) were three inches taller, and had better grades,” said Farrell, “he would be a 40 offer kid.”

The other player coming to town who has already said “yes” to the Buffs is tight end Henley Griffon. At Apopka (Fla.) high school, the 6’5″, 217-pound prospect was only thrown the ball about seven times a game, limiting his chances to make plays, but scouts like his potential. Like Jones, Griffon will be interested to see what he finds in Boulder this weekend. “I pulled up Colorado’s website and looked at their campus and their academics, and I was sold,” said Griffon. “I determined it is the school that best fits what I am looking for in college.” While in recruiting, nothing is certain until signing day, Griffon sounds like a solid commit. “I am a good fit for Colorado,” said Griffon, ” and Colorado is a good fit for me.”

Familiar with the surroundings, but uncertain as to his decision, is official visitor Justin Castor. The 22nd-ranked kicker/punter played at Arvada West high school in Denver, and had been a Kansas commit since last summer. Then, with the coaching change in Lawrence, Castor re-opened his recruitment. Colorado and Arizona State are the final two Castor is choosing from, with Castor’s visit to Boulder this weekend; Tempe next weekend. “Once the coaching change at Kansas occurred, I started gaining more interest from other programs,” Castor told PrepColorado.com. “Colorado has always been a school of interest, as well as Arizona State.”

Both services starting reporting on Friday that there is a fourth known official visitor this weekend, quarterback Justin Gorman from Manheim, Pennsylvania. At first blush, this use of a visit makes little sense. Gorman is considered a one-star quarterback by both Rivals and Scout, and the Buffs are awash in players at that position. To make matters more disconcerting – Gorman only holds offers from schools like Colgate, Penn, Holy Cross, and Bucknell. It’s not as if BCS schools are beating down his door.

Then why the visit? An interview with Gorman by Scout.com back on December 17th may hold the answer. At the time, the 6’1″, 185-pound athlete indicated that the Buffs were looking at having Gorman come to Boulder, not as a scholarship player, but as a preferred walk-on. In addition, Gorman, who had over 2,000 yards passing and over 1,000 yards rushing this past season, may not end up at quarterback. “Coach Hawkins still doesn’t know where they’re going to want to play me,” said Gorman, who played cornerback and wide receiver as a junior, before injuries moved him to quarterback for his senior season, “so for now he’s told me I definitely have a preferred walk-on, and told me they’re going to see how their class shapes up, and see what position they may be able to fit me in as a scholarship athlete.”

Now, that makes more sense. A preferred walk-on doesn’t count against the scholarship totals, and Gorman, a 4.0 student, could fit in as an athlete where needed (running back?). Colorado certainly seems to be in need of talented players who can fill in at several positions.

With kicker/punter Justin Castor not likely to make a final decision on his commitment until after he takes his official visit to Arizona State next weekend, there might not be any new commitments for the Buffs come Sunday.

Then again, that’s what we thought last weekend …

Running back update

The Daily Camera is reporting that Darrell Scott is not enrolled at Colorado for the spring, and that Scott has been released to seek enrollment at several other schools, including UCLA. Scott quit the team in November, and the initial reports were  that he wished to transfer to UCLA to play with his uncle, Josh Smith. However, the reports also indicated that the Bruins, who have a number of running backs on the roster and on their recruitment list, were not interested. Now, the Camera is stating that one of the schools Scott has been released to enroll in is UCLA.

11 Replies to “Colorado “Semi-Weekly” – Archive”

  1. Bad news with Simas, we really need him next year. Is it just me, or does it seem like our team is cursed? For what it’s worth, the Florida Gators suspended Carol Dunlap for the SEC championship game, but re-instated him for the Sugar Bowl (appearently he was in bad shape when the police “found him slumped over the steering wheel of his car”). Any chance Simas receives a simliar slap on the wrist?

  2. Prince looks qualified. Bummer that Ryan Walters has decided to follow Greg Brown to Arizona. He’s a positive steadying influence on the team, even though he’s not playing anymore.

  3. Stuart
    Vic Lombardi stands by his story and source that D.Scott IS talking to the Buffs about coming back, despite his (Scott’s) public denial yesterday. We’ll see how this plays out but Vic claims his source is of impeccable credentials, reliable. For example, this was the same source that tipped Vic off that Hawk was coming back before it was publicly announced before the NU game.

    1. Mike,
      Thanks for the update.
      I’m sure we haven’t heard the end of this story, and might not until or unless Scott enrolls at another school …

  4. Steve,
    With a grey-shirt, it’s basically just a promise to keep a promise. If a player enrolls in their school of choice in the fall (and pays their own way), then transfer rules would apply, and the player would have to sit out a year if they wanted to go elsewhere. However, if a player takes classes at a junior college (or in no school at all) the fall before they enroll, they would be free to sign on anywhere they would like the following spring.

    As to the rating system, it’s definitely flawed. Part of the grade goes to who has offered, which makes the star rating a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Texas offers a player, they must be great, right? So Texas ends up with a bunch of four-star and five star players, simply because they offered them.

    A better system for monitoring offers would be to look at the number of schools offering, and their collective status (e.g., if ten BCS conference schools offered, the player would be worthy of five stars. If eight BCS conference schools offered, they would receive four stars, etc.). Not a perfect solution, but it would get us away from Texas only offering five stars, because only five stars would go to Texas. Then there should be a loss of a star if the player is an enrollment risk, if they were injured during their senior season, etc.

  5. If Alex Lewis grey-shirts the season, will he be free to switch to another school in the mean time? Also I’d like to tack onto the comment above: Is it just me or does there seem to be grade inflation within the Rival’s star system (in particular the vast number of three star recruits)?

  6. I find it curious that this runner (T. Jones) all of sudden pops up on Rivals as a 3-star RB immediately after he commits to the Buffs.

  7. I’m happy and relieved that we have another kicker/punter coming to CU.

    The last couple years have been so inconsistent — no surprise to anyone reading this — but if the buffs didn’t bring on some young talent, even if Goodman wins the Groza this year, we’d be in a bad spot in 2011 without someone ready to take his place. And if Goodman doesn’t win the Groza this year, you get my drift, we have a couple young legs standing behind him if needed. When needed.

    Welcome to CU Justin. A great tradition and great decision for you.

  8. The state of the Colorado program is extremely disappointing. It is amazing to me that it has been nearly ten years since our last great moment. Take a look at the link below and see who is rated by collegefootballnews.com as having the best of the last decades single game coaching effort. Thats right, none other than our very own, Gary Barnett. I was a Barnett supporter (still am, obviously), but when he was let go I thought, well at least we can move on and heal the program. I thought Hawkins was a decent choice, but have been massively disappointed. In retrospect he has been a disaster and I hope anyone who called for Gary Barnett’s head feels embarrassed and ashamed. Whatever faults Barnett had, he was a winner. His biggest fault was that he was not smooth in front of a camera unlike our current coach. Now we have a smooth operator and a crappy program with no hope in sight. I guess it just goes to prove the old adage that you better look out because you might get what you wish for. All you have to do is look at that lonely first rated performance from way back in 2001 and recognize how far we have fallen. At one time we were part of the national conversation and now we are barely a top 100 program. Even Belloti’s performance against us in the bowl game at least shows that we were a worthy scalp at one time.

    Maybe a year from now Hawk will be a champ and I will sing his praises – I hope so, I really do, but I doubt it.

    Sweet memories, here is the link.

    http://cfn.scout.com/2/557921.html

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