Recruiting Notebook – Defense

Continuing on in our review of each unit on the Colorado roster, we turn our attention to the defense. This week: The secondary (Defensive line and linebackers review posted below)

Defensive Backs

Players LostSeniors Anthony Perkins, Jonathan Hawkins, Arthur Jaffee, Brian Lockridge, and Travis Sandersfeld. After earning 26 starts at safety, Anthony Perkins suffered a high ankle sprain nine snaps into the Oregon game on October 22nd. It appeared that Perkins’ career was over, as he missed the next four games. Determined to go out with his uniform on, though, Perkins made it back into the lineup for the season finale, not only starting, but leading the Buffs with ten tackles in the 17-14 victory over Utah. Despite playing in only nine games this past fall, Perkins finished tied with fellow safety Ray Polk for second place on the team with 80 tackles.

The other four senior defensive backs contributed to different degrees. Travis Sandersfeld appeared in as many career games as Perkins (38), but had less than half as many starts (11). Sandersfeld was also injured for much of 2011, missing six games, but also finished strong, posting ten tackles against Utah. Sandersfeld posted 56 tackles on the season, including three sacks and four other tackles for loss. Arthur Jaffee mainly contributed on special teams, finishing third on the team in special teams points. Hawkins, Espinoza and Lockridge were mainly used as stop gaps in the middle of the season when the Colorado secondary was severely depleted by injury. Hawkins even earned a start against Oregon, the second of his career, while Espinoza, in playing only six games after moving over from the offense, actually led the team in interceptions, with two.

Note: Colorado also loses two other defensive backs from the August roster, junior Makiri Pugh and sophomore Ayodeji Olatoye. Both were suspended early in the 2011 campaign for undisclosed off-field violations of team rules. Neither is expected back for the 2012 season.

Players ReturningRay Polk (Sr.*), Vince Ewing (also listed as a linebacker) (Sr.*), Parker Orms (Jr.*), Paul Vigo (Jr.*), Terrel Smith (Jr.*), Jered Bell (So.*), Greg Henderson (So.*), Josh Moten (So.*), Kyle Washington (So.*), Will Harlos (So.*), Jordan Marquez (So*), Justin Gorman (So.*), Sherrard Harrington (R-Fr.*), Jermane Clark (R-Fr.*), River Thompson (R-Fr.*), Brandon Brisco (R-Fr.*), Richard Yates (R-Fr.*).

The good news is that the University of Colorado roster has plenty of names with “DB” listed as their position. The bad news, as the Buff Nation witnessed this past October, is that there is not always safety in numbers. With injuries and suspensions, the “all hands on deck” call went out, with former running back Brian Lockridge and former wide receiver Jason Espinoza called upon to face the sophisticated pass offenses of Stanford, Oregon, and USC. The results were predictable.

Will it be any better in 2012?

Colorado does have some starting talent returning. Ray Polk (another former running back) returns as the starter at free safety. His running mate will likely be Terrel Smith, who filled in ably at starter for Anthony Perkins both in 2010 and 2011. At one corner, Greg Henderson returns. All Henderson did as a true freshman was smash the record for participation. The previous high for any true freshman on defense was set by Jordon Dizon, who was in for 597 snaps in 2004. In 2011, Henderson was in for 823.

At the other corner, and at nickel back … ? It’s anyone’s guess who will step up, and who will return from injury in the best shape. Parker Orms and Paul Vigo will return with the most experience, but CU fans will also be interested to see what players like Jered Bell, Josh Moten, Kyle Washington, Will Harlos will have to offer. And then there are players who have yet to see the field of play in a Buff uniform, like Sherrard Harrington and Jermane Clark, who red-shirted this past fall.

The bottom line … the 2011 season demonstrated that the Colorado secondary was too thin to withstand injuries to a number of players. Now, the thin (and, arguably, weak) roster has had seven names removed.

Colorado head coach was quoted in an interview over Christmas break that, with only two known verbal commitments from defensive backs from the Class of 2012, that he was still looking for a “couple more” defensive back recruits between now and Signing Day.

No doubt …

Commitments from the Class of 2012 (2):

MARQUES MOSLEY – DB

Just the facts … Committed December 20th … Mosley is a defensive back / athlete / wide receiver prospect from Upland, California. He is a teammate of running back Donta Abron, who committed December 12th. Mosley is 6’1″, 185-pounds, has reportedly run a 4.6 in the 40, as is projected to play cornerback for Colorado. Rivals bio  Scout bio ESPN bio

What others say about Mosley… Mosley is an unrated athlete according to Rivals, but is listed as a two-star wide receiver by Scout, the 228th-best wide receiver in the country. ESPN gives Mosley three stars … as a safety. Mosley averaged 17.2 yards on 19 rushing attempts, 22.4 yards on 12 receptions, 24.3 yards on 10 punt returns and 33.1 yards on eight kickoff returns during his senior season. He also recorded 64 tackles, four pass break ups and one interception on defense.

An evaluation on Mosley, from ESPN, written in November: Mosley displays the aggressive run stopping ability we look for when evaluating defensive backs. Has the size and athleticism for the safety position at the major level of competition. His frame appears capable of handling additional bulk over time. This guy is a tough customer willing to wrap tackle and punish when the opportunity exists; is effective covering kickoffs; does a good job avoiding blockers but will take them on to maintain coverage lanes; is also effective blocking downfield on punt returns. We do detect some hip tightness when playing tight man coverage however we see the playing speed needed to line up tight, turn and run with receivers releasing off the line; flashes awareness with a feel for receivers in his area; must improve his ability to break up quicker on underneath throws. This prospect does a good job playing off blocks whether it be the screen pass or outside run; sheds blockers quickly while demonstrating the ability to make the open field tackle with very little yardage after contact. Is aggressive filling the alley showing the willingness to stick his nose and stop runs on the opponent’s side of the line of scrimmage; does a great job in long pursuit with some touchdown saving tackles. Mosley is presently flying under the radar as a BCS prospect. However his size, athleticism and toughness warrant another look see as the season concludes.

Mosley had other offers from … Nebraska, Oregon State, Michigan State, and Army, so, for an unrated player, Mosley was attracting some attention from national programs. That Army was after Mosley is likely a good sign that he would not be an academic risk. Mosley took an official visit to Nebraska in November, and was in Boulder for the weekend of December 10th.

MA’NE MANAEA – DB

Just the facts … Committed September 14th, though he is still listed as a “soft verbal” by Rivals. Manaea has been asked to grey-shirt by the CU coaching staff, and Manaea has balked. Scout has taken Manaea off its board as a CU commitment … Manaea is a defensive back prospect from Lakewood, Washington. Manaea is 5’11″, 185-pounds, and runs a 4.5 in the 40. Rivals bio Scout bio YouTube highlights ESPN bio

What others say about Manaea … Manaea is rated a three-star prospect by both Rivals and Scout. Rivals has Manaea as the 15th-best overall player out of the state of Washington, while Scout has Manaea as the 76th-best safety prospect in the nation. Manaea was named the co-defensive back MVP at the All-Poly camp this past summer. He plays both outside linebacker and rover for Lakes, but projects as a safety for college.

Manaea had other offers from … only Washington State and Idaho, though many other Pac-12 schools showed interest, including Washington, both Oregon schools, and UCLA. Manaea also had interest from Air Force, which is a fair indication that he will not be an eligibility risk (Manaea reports a 3.4 GPA), and 1-AA Montana.

In his own words … “This was a family decision. We love the (Colorado) staff and they have shown nothing but the highest level of interest in me,” Manaea said upon his commitment. ”The coaches at Colorado gave me room and let me know the were keeping me in their hearts. So I thought why not keep them in mine.” Of his style of play, Manaea said, “A lot of the colleges I talked to said they like my aggression and my instincts for the ball,” Manaea said. “I am good in pursuit. And I have good footwork, which helps me a lot when I am in coverage.”

Players still being courted by Colorado:

Also known as the “Yuri Wright” watch …

Not since Darrel Scott announced his decision to go with Colorado over Texas on Signing Day, 2008, has one recruit received so much attention from the Buff Nation. Yuri Wright, a four-star prospect from Ramsey, New Jersey, is considered by both Rivals (3rd) and Scout (5th) one of the best cornerback recruits in the nation. Wright visited Boulder last April, and took his official visit to Colorado in December. Wright has offers from all over the country, and has been attached to numerous schools. For awhile, it looked like former Buff coach Ashley Ambrose might lure Wright to Cal. Then it was in-state school Rutgers which had the edge. Then it was Wright’s “favorite team” from his youth, Michigan, which was seen as the front-runner.

Most recently, Wright has been tied to Notre Dame. Wright took his official visit to South Bend the week after visiting Boulder, and reportedly came away impressed. Wright’s teammate and fellow defensive back, Elijah Shumate (who also has an offer from Colorado, but is no longer listing the Buffs amongst potential candidates) is considered a strong Notre Dame lean, and the rumor is that the pair will commit to playing for Notre Dame together on national television at the U.S. Army All-American bowl on January 7th.

My take? It would certainly be a coup for Colorado to pick up Wright, and he has certainly shown a strong interest in Colorado. The real issue: Can Embree and Co. convince Wright that the six straight losing seasons posted by the program can be overcome? That’s a hard sell for anyone not wearing black-and-gold colored glasses …

If not Yuri …?

Another highly-rated cornerback recruit who still has Colorado on his board is Kevon Seymour from Pasadena, California. Seymour is rated as  a four-star player by both recruiting services, with a No. 9 position ranking from Rivals; No. 15 from Scout. Seymour does not have a “top five” list, but has taken official visits to Oregon and Washington, with USC and UCLA also very much in play.

Just to throw out to other highly-rated names who have yet to commit … Brandon Beaver, from Compton, California, and Gabriel Marks, from Los Angeles. Both are rated as four-star prospects, and both have offers from Colorado … but neither list the Buffs in their top five.

Who else …?

Chris Solomon is taking his official visit to Boulder on January 13th. A three-star prospect from West Covina, California, Solomon is considered by Scout to be the 88th-best safety in the nation. Solomon lists Colorado, both Arizona schools, and Nevada amongst his favorites, though he is reportedly still waiting to hear from the Washington schools, Oregon State, and Boise State. To date, though, he has no other official visits scheduled after his trip to Boulder.

Leo Thomas, from San Antonio, took his official visit to Boulder in December. A former Arizona commit, Thomas is considered to be a three-star prospect, the 88th-best safety in the nation according to Rivals. Thomas holds offers from schools like Illinois, Indiana, Utah, and Wake Forest, but has to date only taken one official visit, to Boulder.

Tyler Hasty is a three-star prospect from Bellevue, Washington, who has shown an interest in the Buffs. He currently only has offers from CU, Oregon State, and Idaho … Kenneth Crawley, from Washington D.C., is a three-star prospect who is listed as a Tennessee commit, but who has indicated that he is willing to take other official visits. No visit to Boulder is currently confirmed, however.

Colorado is likely to pick up two or three more defensive backs over the next month. Whether they will be “splash” commits like Yuri Wright, or late commits like last year’s Jermane Clark – which had everyone debating as to how to even spell his first name – remains to be seen.

Linebackers

Players Lost – Seniors Josh Hartigan, Patrick Mahnke and Tyler Ahles. Hartigan was a hybrid defensive end / outside linebacker, but he played as a linebacker for most of 2011. Hartigan missed some time due to injury last fall, but started nine games, finishing his career with 19 starts. Mahnke earned starts in five of the final six games of the season (and 11 for his career). Ahles, while also spending some time at fullback, played ten games at linebacker for the Buffs in 2011 (no starts). On the year, Mahnke was sixth on the team in tackles, with 59 tackles (including 2 1/2 sacks and five other tackles for loss), while Hartigan led the team in sacks, posting eight. Ahles, meanwhile, contributed 25 tackles.

Players returningDoug Rippy (Sr.*), Jon Major (Sr.*), Vince Ewing (Sr.*), Derrick Webb (Jr.*), Lowell Williams (So.*), Brady Daigh (So.*), Woodson Greer (So.*), K.T. Tuumalo (So.*), Casey Walker (R-Fr.*). Jon Major led the team in tackles in 2011, with 85 – the lowest number for any leading tackler for the Buffs since defensive tackle Laval Short led the team with 85 tackles in 1977. Doug Rippy might well have led the team in tackles, as he had 62 in seven games before suffering torn knee ligaments against Washington.

The Buffs are going to need Rippy to return next fall at full strength, because behind Major and Rippy, there is little in the way of proven talent or depth. Derrick Webb had his moments in 2011, earning seven starts and posting 54 tackles (while also leading the team in special teams points). Playing as a true freshman, Brady Daigh played in nine games, with 18 tackles in just 82 plays on the field. After Webb and Daigh, though, CU will have to count on the contributions of Woodson Greer (40 plays from scrimmage last fall), K.T. Tuumalo (78 plays), or perhaps red-shirt freshman Will Harlos (if Harlos doesn’t play as a defensive back). In all likelihood, Webb and/or Daigh will have to have break out seasons if the Colorado linebacking crew is to have a successful season.

* denotes status for 2012 season

So, while linebacker recruits who can play from day one in 2012 might not be necessary from this recruiting Class, 2013 is looking fairly bleak without a fresh infusuion of talent …

Commitments from the Class of 2012 (0):

While several of the defensive end recruits from the Class of 2012 may be utilized in the fashion of Josh Hartigan – a defensive end /outside linebacker hybrid, Colorado currently stands at zero in linebacker commitments. According to several sources, Colorado is looking to only take one linebacker with this Class.

Players still being courted by Colorado:

The discussion here begins – and may end – with Deaysean Rippy. The 6’2″, 198-pound prospect from McKees Rock, Pennsylvania, is considered to be a four-star player by both Rivals and Scout. Rivals has Rippy as its No. 21 outside linebacker, while Scout ranks him 17th nationally. Rippy is a cousin of Buff Doug Rippy, though the two do not appear to be particularly close . “It was good to see him, we haven’t seen each other in a while,” Rippy told Scout.com after taking his official visit to Boulder in early December. “I also spent a lot of time with Toney Clemons. He is a local guy and having a lot of success out there.” Rippy has also taken official visits to Pittsburgh and West Virginia.

If not Rippy, then who?

Perhaps RaShawn Hooker, a 6’2″, 200-pound prospect from Fontana, California. Hooker is considered to be a three-star player by both Rivals and Scout. Rivals has Hooker as the No. 39 outside linebacker in the country, while Scout rates Hooker as its No. 50 outside linebacker. Hooker took his official visit to Boulder in early October for the Washington State game, and was surprised not to find snow on the ground (not a great sign). Arizona State and Hawai’i are also possible destinations for official visits, while Hooker is reportedly also high on the possibility of playing for UCLA or Boise State.

Other players CU covets include Seth Jacobs, but Jacobs recently announced his top four, and Colorado was not on the list. Joe Robinson is another highly rated prospect, but Robinson reportedly has a top three of Arizona, Nebraska, and Utah. Lavell Sanders is a three-star prospect, according to Rivals, and may take an official visit to Colorado on January 13th. Schools are reportedly waiting, though, to see how Sanders’ December 3rd SAT scores turn out before getting too excited about signing him.

So … if Rippy doesn’t become a Buff, and Hooker can’t be convinced to sign on,  Colorado may go without a linebacker signee in 2012.

And hope for some great prospects from the Class of 2013 …

Defensive Line

Players Lost – Seniors Curtis Cunningham, Conrad Obi, David Goldberg, and Tony Poremba. Curtis Cunningham finished his tenure in Boulder with 30 career starts, fourth highest total on the team. Conrad Obi, meanwhile had eight starts in his 41-game CU career. The defensive line also loses senior-to-be Nick Kasa, who switched from defensive end to tight end at the conclusion of the 2011 season, catching his first career pass against Utah in the finale. Redshirt-freshman-to-be Stephane Nembot moved from defensive line to offensive line in August, and is likely to remain there next season.

Players Returning – The discussion begins – and pretty much ends – with Will Pericak (Sr.*). Pericak will enter his senior season with 37 consecutive starts (no other returning player on the team will enter the fall with as many as 20 consecutive starts). Pericak finished the 2011 season with 64 tackles, fourth highest total on the team (no other defensive lineman finished in the top ten). Pericak also led the team in quaterback pressures, with eight – though he finished the season with only half of one sack to his credit.

After Pericak, there are three other upperclassmen returning … that’s it (which is why the commitment list for defensive linemen is so high, as detailed below). The other returning senior is Eric Richter, who has, if you will pardon the pun, failed to register on the defensive scale (Richter played in one game this fall, for all of seven plays).  Two juniors will be back, with Chidera Uzo-Diribe and Nate Bonsu trying to earn starting positions in a depleted defensive line. Uzo-Diribe is the only one of the two with any career starts (seven, including six in 2011), while Bonsu has yet to start a game. Uzo-Diribe did post 5 1/2 sacks in 2011, second on the team to Josh Hartigan’s eight.

Who else will be back? Well, there will be sophomores Kirk Poston and Juda Parker. Neither contributed a great deal to the stats sheet in 2011, though Parker did earn his first career start against Washington State, and did play in nine games, registering six tackles. Poston only saw action in two games, and was on the field for only six plays all season. The only other returning players on the roster are two walk-ons who have yet to see action, sophomore Andre Nichols and redshirt-freshman Kyle Koch.

* Denotes status for 2012 season

It is worthy of note … The two most decorated and celebrated CU defensive line recruits in the past five years have been Nick Kasa (who de-committed from Florida to play for Colorado) and Stephane Nembot (who de-committed from Washington to come to Boulder). Now both of those players have been moved to the offense.

Presumably, the Colorado coaches made these moves in full recognition of the 2012 defensive line depth chart.

Which is why defensive line has been a top priority for Colorado this recruiting season, with eight of the Buffs’ first 21 recruits all defensive linemen.

Commitments for the Class of 2012: (8)

TYLER HENINGTON – DT

Just the facts … Committed March 23rd – Henington is a defensive tackle prospect from Mullen high in Denver, Colorado. Henington is 6’3″, 282-pounds. Rivals bio Scout bio  ESPN bio

What others say about Henington … Henington is rated as a three-star recruit prospect by both Rivals and Scout. Rivals sees Hennington as the 8th-best player in the state of Colorado this fall, while Scout rates Henington as the No. 63 defensive tackle in the nation. Henington is rated as the fourth-best in-state prospect by ColoradoPrepReport.com. In 2010, Henington had 114 tackles and a team-high 11 sacks for the undefeated state champions. Henington estimated that he had 118 tackles and 12 sacks during his senior season

“He was all-Conference (as a junior)”, Mullen assistant coach Zach Morris told GoldandGreenNews.com. “He has great get-off and explosiveness. He was great at the nose guard position. He was kind of our anchor (in 2010).” Henington is a three-sport athlete who also competes in wrestling and track and field. Henington’s father, Troy, played defensive tackle at Texas Tech, and his mother ran track for the Red Raiders. Henington’s grandfather played collegiately at New Mexico, and was drafted by the NFL.

PrepColorado.com was impressed with Henington. “Review of Henington’s game reveals a player that has the ability to move around the defense,” wrote Jeff Stroud this past spring. “This potential diversity could allow Henington to stay on the field in odd and even defensive fronts. In each spot, the successful high school wrestler uses leverage and good hand work to take on blockers and make tackles or create opportunities for tackles. The most intriguing aspect of Henington’s game is his ability to get a pass rush from across the defensive line. Although very strong against the run, Henington uses a good first step and a nonstop motor to get push and go after the passer.”

Henington had other offers from … several other schools, including Syracuse and UCLA.  A number of other schools, including Colorado State, Utah, Indiana, Michigan, Syracuse, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Oregon all showed some form of early recruiting interest in Henington, but Henington committed early, and has stuck with his commitment. Henington took his official visit to Boulder on December 9th.  

In his own words …  ”I’ve always wanted to go to CU,” Henington told the Denver Post when he committed. “My dad’s had a CU hat on me since I was five.” Henington was offered a scholarship before the start of spring practice, and had the opportunity to meet with coaches and watch practice. “I really liked what I saw,” said Henington. “I talked with (defensive line) coach (Mike) Tuiasosopo and (defensive coordinator Greg) Brown, and head coach (Jon) Embree, and they’re all great guys, and it seems like it’s going to be a great program.

“I talked to my parents and I knew it was the right move,” said Henington. “My dad and I have always been CU fans. I talked with my Mullen coaches. CU is a great school, and I decided to commit early and save myself a spot.”

Henington is projected to play on the interior of the defensive line, and that is not a problem for the third generation Division 1 football player. “Coach (Mike Tuiasosopo) said I’ll be an inside guy, and that’s where I feel most comfortable,” Henington told BuffStampede.com last spring. “I’m a little to big to be a defensive end, and I feel more comfortable taking up space inside … When I went up for (spring practices), I could see coach Tua is a great coach and a great guy. He’s not out there cussing at you. He tells you what you need to know, and also gets you fired up. I’m excited to play for him.”

JUSTIN SOLIS – DT

Just the facts … Committed July 13th … Solis is a defensive tackle prospect from Westlake Village, California. Solis is 6’3, 287-pounds, and runs a 4.9 in the 40. Rivals bio  Scout bio YouTubehighlights ESPN bio

What others had to say about Solis … Solis is considered to be a three-star prospect by both Rivals and Scout. Rivals ranks Solis as 46th-best defensive tackle prospect in the nation, and the 93rd-best overall prospect out of the state of California. Scout lists Solis as the No. 36 defensive tackle in the country. Solis was named the Ventura County Defensive Lineman of the Year and the Marmonte League Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2010. He was also an all-state and all-CIF selection. In his junior year, Solis had 99 tackles, including over 20 tackles for loss and ten sacks.

A Scout.com player evaluation had this to say about the Buffs’ new defensive tackle: “Solis has a quick first step and does a good job taking on numerous blockers to enable the linebackers to get into the backfield. Very good in stopping the run.” Under Strengths, the scout listed intensity and effort, quickness off the ball, and overall strength. As a weakness, the scout listed “techniques and moves”. Solis seems to agree with the last assessment. “I want to improve on my agility and speed,” Solis told BuffaloSportsNews.com back in March. “That’s what I want to work on most because we’re changing up our defense this year. Last year it was more like, hold the line and control the gaps. This year we’re doing more, play the run on the way to the quarterback. So I want to get in better shape and get a little bit faster and quicker.”

Solis had other offers from … half of the Pac-12, including UCLA, Arizona, Utah and Washington. Solis also had offers from Boise State, Georgia Tech, Iowa State and Nevada.

In his own words… “When I first started playing football, I was just having fun. I didn’t know I was going to take it this far,” Solis told BuffStampede.com when he committed this past summer. “In the last couple years, I started to realize that it is going to give me an opportunity to get a free college education and be successful in my future. It has been a blessing.”

DE’JON WILSON – DE

Just the facts … Committed November 28th … Wilson is a defensive end prospect from Washington, D.C. Wilson is 6’3″, 240 pounds, and reportedly runs a 4.68 in the 40. Rivals bio Scout bio  ESPN bio

What others say about Wilson… Wilson is rated as a three-star player by both Scout and Rivals. Scout has Wilson ranked as the 124th-best defensive end prospect in the nation. Wilson committed to Kansas in August, but decided to de-commit when Turner Gill was fired. As a junior, Wilson set school records for sacks (21) and tackles for loss (33). He also scored four defensive touchdowns. A Scout.com evaluation of Wilson had this to say: “Wilson is a stout player who can be versatile in college. He could wind up at a number of spots. He looks like a current college middle backer, but could fill the hybrid DE/OLB role well in college. He runs well and gets after the ball.”

Wilson had other offers from … at least ten other schools. Including Kansas, Wilson had offers from schools like Illinois, Michigan State, Rutgers and Pittsburgh. Woodson was a high school teammate of CU freshman cornerback Sherrard Harrington.

JOHN STUART – DE

Just the facts … Committed December 5th … Stuart is a defensive end prospect from Westlake Village, California. Stuart is 6’4″, 230-pounds, and reportedly runs a 4.7 in the 40. Rivals bio  Scout bio ESPN bio

What others say about Stuart … Stuart is rated as a three-star player by Scout, but is not yet rated by Rivals. Scout has Stuart as its 92nd-best defensive end prospect in the nation. Stuart is the teammate of fellow defensive end Justin Solis (see bio, below), who committed to Colorado in July. Stuart has played in nine games during his senior season. He has been credited with 39 tackles, seven sacks, three fumbles caused, one fumble recovery and one interception. Stuart has also caught three touchdown passes playing tight end for Westlake, one of the top five programs in the state of California. The Warriors’ season is not yet complete, as Westlake will face Oaks Christian in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division Championship game on Friday (December 9th).

Stuart had other offers from … both Arizona schools and Washington State from the Pac-12. Stuart also had a number of offers from west coast mid-major schools like Fresno State, Nevada, New Mexico State and San Jose State. Stuart took an official visit to Colorado in September, and to Washington State in November.

In his own words… When asked back in September what he was looking for in a program, Stuart told Scout.com, “I just want coaches that respect you and don’t just throw you aside once you get there. I want a nice little community and people supporting me and good academics. That’s pretty much it.” Stuart seems to have found what he was looking for in Colorado, committing to CU head coach Jon Embree in person when Embree made his in-home visit December 5th.

KISIMA JAGNE – DE

Just the facts … Committed December 8th … Jagne is a defensive end prospect from Chandler, Arizona. Jagne is 6’5″, 235-pounds, and reportedly runs an impressive 4.5 in the 40. Rivals bio Scout bio ESPN bio

What others say about Jagne … Jagne is rated as a three-star player by both Rivals and Scout. Rivals has Jagne pegged as the No. 26 strong defensive end in the nation, and the No. 8 player overall out of the state of Arizona this fall. Scout considers Jagne the 49th-best defensive end prospect in the nation. An analyst for Scout had this to say about Jagne: As good looking a prospect from a physical standpoint as you will find. Big, strong and has the length coveted by every college coach. Has the ability to be an every down player at the next level as he is just as stout against the run as he is an efficient pass rusher. Long arms help him get to the quarterback. Can be a dominant force when he wants to, which is his knock, as he does take some plays off.

Jagne had other offers from … A number of other BCS conference schools, including both Arizona schools and both Washington schools from the Pac-12. Jagne also had offers from Michigan State, Purdue, and Oklahoma State. Jagne took an official visit to Arizona State when the Sun Devils crushed the Buffs (yuck!), but took his official visit to Boulder a few weeks later when the Buffs defeated Arizona (much better timing). Jagne commited to the Buffs on December 8th during an in-home visit with Colorado defensive ends coach Kanavis McGhee.

JOSH TUPOU – DT

Just the facts … Committed December 11th – Tupou is a two-way lineman prospect from Buena Park, California. Tupou is 6’4″, 302-pounds, and is being recruited by Colorado to play defensive tackle Rivals bio Scout bio video highlights 

What others say about Tupou … Tupou is rated as a two-star defensive tackle by both Scout and Rivals. Scout rates Tupou as the No. 98 defensive tackle in the nation. According to Scout’s west coast recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman, Tupou is the region’s top “Prospect out of Nowhere”: “It’s been a long time since Buena Park (Calif.) produced a D-I prospect,” wrote Huffman. “In fact, before this season, Buena Park hadn’t had a player sign out of high school in the last decade. This year the Coyotes have three players with D-I offers and the best of that group is defensive tackle Josh Tupou, who didn’t have a single offer before mid-October.” Tupou starred on both sides of the line for Buena Park. He was named the Freeway League defensive MVP and his team’s lineman of the year as a senior.

Tupou had other offers from … only a handful of schools, including Hawai’i, Nevada, San Jose State and UNLV. Tupou did not have any known offers from any other BCS conference schools, but did have reported interest from Utah and Washington. Tupou had previously taken official visits to Nevada and San Jose State before settling on the Buffs. The reason given for Tupour receiving fewer offers is that he transferred to Buena Park this year, and there was no film of him as a junior. It may prove fortunate that the Buffs may have gotten Tupou before other schools figured out his potential.

SAMSON KAFOVALU – DT/DE

Just the facts … Committed December 16th … Kafovalu is a defensive end prospect from Riverside, California. Kafovalu is 6’3″, 253-pounds. Rivals bio Scout bio ESPN bio

 What others say about Kafovalu … Kafovalu is considered to be a three-star prospect by both Scout and Rivals. Scout rates Kafovalu as the No. 55 defensive end in the nation.

Kafovalu has other offers from… a number of Pac-12 schools, including both Washington schools, Arizona, UCLA, and Utah, as well as Fresno State, Boise State and Nevada. Kafovalu took his official visit to Boulder in October for the Oregon game, then took official visits to Washington and Utah. When Kafovalu visited Boulder, he was impressed with the Buffs, despite the 45-2 drubbing by Oregon. “I love the school, I love the place,” Kafovalu told BuffaloSportsNews.net in October. “I love the football players. It was a great place.” While Kafovalu is listed by the recruiting services as a defensive end, he may move inside and play defensive tackle for Colorado. “If I play, it’s all good,” he said. “If I have to play O-line for Colorado, I’ll play O-line.” Kafovalu committed to Colorado just five days after his official visit to Utah, but, more significantly, the day after Colorado defensive line coach Mike Tuiasosopo made an in-home visit.

KORY RASMUSSEN – DT/DE

Just the facts … Committed December 19th … Rasmussen is a defensive tackle prospect from Honolulu, Hawai’i. Rasmussen is 6’3″, 260-pounds. Rivals bio Scout bio ESPN bio

What others say about Rasmussen …  Rasmussen is considered to be a three-star prospect by Scout, but only a two-star prospect by Rivals. Scout rates Rasmussen as the No. 81 defensive tackle in the nation, while Rivals does at least rank Rasmussen in the top ten of prospects from Hawai’i this fall.

Rasmussen had other offers from… a number of Pac-12 schools, including Arizona, Utah, Cal and Washington. Rasmussen also had an offer from his hometown Hawai’i Warriors. Rasmussen took his official visit to Boulder in November for the Arizona game, and did not take any other official visits. “Colorado was good,” Rasmussen told BuffaloSportsNews.net in November. “They won the game so that makes it better. It was good to talk to the local boys they have there, some guys I played against in high school. I had a good time … I think my favorite part was going to Folsom Field,” said Rasmussen. “Watching how the coaches were during the game and seeing the players play.”

Rasmussend projects as a defensive tackle, but he has some weight (and muscle) to put on before he puts on the pads in Folsom Field. “Most schools see me on the inside at defensive tackle,” said Rasmussen. “A lot of it depends on how much weight I can put on this off-season.”

Players still being courted by Colorado

With eight defensive linemen already committed to sign letters of intent for Colorado on February 1st, it is tempting to say that the book is closed on this unit for the Class of 2012.

Not so.

Two reasons. First, there are several players on the above list who, according to Kyle Ringo of the Daily Camera and Scout, are potential qualifying risks. The reason the Buffs are loading up on defensive linemen, postulates Ringo, is that all seven might not make it to fall camp, and that since the defensive line is thin already, it would be better to have too many signees than too few (Colorado even took a run at some junior college defensive lineman, but couldn’t find one who could qualify for admission to CU).

The second reason that the Colorado coaches are still out there seeking commitments from defensive linemen is straightforward – there are some quality prospects out there who remain uncommitted.

In the “make-a-wish” category is DeForest Buckner, a 6’7″, 230-pound defensive end from Honolulu. Buckner is considered to be a four-star prospect by both Rivals and Scout. Rivals has Buckner as the No. 18 defensive end in the country, while Scout ranks Buckner 33rd. Buckner’s official visit list: Oregon (December 9th); Cal (December 16th); UCLA (January 14th); Utah (January 20th); and then, wait for it … the last weekend before Signing Day, Buckner will be in Boulder (January 27th).

Several names were on the CU coaches’ radar who are no longer considering Colorado, including the No. 1 defensive tackle in the nation (according to Scout), Arik Armstead. The Elk Grove, California product (the same hometown as offensive lineman Steven Moore and wide receiver Michael Thomas, who are also being recruited by Colorado), has his five official visits set – and none of those trips will take him to Boulder.

A potential four-star defensive lineman recruit who has already been to Boulder is Kyle Kelley, from Irvine, California. Kelley, considered by Rivals to be the No. 13 defensive end prospect in the nation, committed to Arizona before head coach Mike Stoops was fired in October. Thereafter, Kelley reopened his recruitment, taking an official visit to Colorado on December 9th. Kelley liked his visit to Boulder, telling Scout.com, “The coaches, Coach (Kanavis) McGhee and Coach Tui(asosopo), were great guys and they seem like great coaches as well. They plan on using me at defensive end and also a jack position, it’s kind of a hybrid defensive end and linebacker position”. Kelley will visit Oklahoma and Arizona before deciding … it will likely come down to who the Wildcats hire as their defensive coordinator, and what type of defense new head coach Rich Rodriguez plans to run.

There are other quality prospects still out there – Aziz Shittu, from Atwater, California; Taiwan Johnson, from Manvel, Texas; and Ewing Simmons, from Stockton, California – but it’s hard to find any other names in which both Rivals and Scout agree that the Buffs are even in the running.

The best bets for Colorado to still land a “name” defensive lineman on February 1st are Kyle Kelley, if he can be torn away from Arizona, or DeForest Buckner, if Colorado can make a final weekend impression.

Otherwise, the Buffs will likely sign the seven names already committed … and hope that they all qualify.

 

27 Replies to “Recruiting Notebook – Defense”

  1. I sure hope that one of the silent commits is NOT a defensive back. A silent commit means he is not committed and probably won’t. I think Yuri Wright is one of them. Even though he loves CU, his heart is in Michigan.

  2. After a little more research it looks like Manaea was asked to greyshirt, didn’t like it and is looking elsewhere. Most sites seem to have taken him off the CU list at this point. I sure hope one of the alleged “silent” commits is a DB!

  3. 2 What abouts?

    On the roster, what about Ft. Lewis transfer Hunter Harrison?
    Also, what about the safety recruit from Washington Ma’ne Manaea?

    1. Good catch, David! Both Harrison and Manaea have been added.

      I was going off of the CU website final roster, which didn’t include Harrison, so I missed him.

      Manaea is still being listed as a “soft verbal” by Rivals, so I didn’t put in his bio to start, but have added him so everyone has his info.

      Thanks,
      Stuart

  4. Stuart,

    What’s the status of Yuri Wright? He’ll porbably announce on NSD, but from what you have read, which way do you think he’ll go?

    Joey

    1. Joey,

      It doesn’t look good right now, but things can change.
      Wright was supposed to be choosing between CU and Michigan, with an official visit to Ann Arbor coming up in January.
      Now, however, it it being reported that Wright was wowed by his official visit to Notre Dame, and that HS teammate – and Irish lean – Elijah Shumate – are talking about commiting together to Notre Dame.

      Of course, the story could change after Wright’s visit to Michigan … it’s still a long ways to February 1st.

    1. Good question, John,
      I haven’t seen anything in print since September, when Mister Jones left Texas A&M. Anyone else see anything lately on Mister Jones’ status?

  5. I just heard Cliff Harris was dismissed from Oregon. I believe he still has a RS year, we could use him for 2 years as a shut down corner. Any chance Embree takes a chance on him? I know we were one of his other top choices.

  6. What about that Jones kid from North Carolina that grey shirted this last year, he was big and fast and looked like he could step in pretty quick for us?

        1. Todd,
          Hall didn’t qualify academically, so will have to go the JC route.
          Hall failing to qualify is why the Buffs signed D.D. Goodson this summer.

    1. Gary,

      There hasn’t been anything new in the past week. CU is still in the running, with a decision to be made soon, so that Shead would be able to transfer and get enrolled for the spring semester.

  7. Just saw Gill was fired from KU job. No surprise there. I wonder how much Brock Berglund regrets spurning CU for KU at this point? That whole deal was strange. Something fishy was going on behind the scenes.

  8. I see you have joined the “Woodkateers” Stuart. 9 out of 10 have already anointed him as next years starter.
    Perhaps its the desperation with the QB spot here at CU for the last 5 years that is responsible for this.
    Perhaps that same desperation fuels my own desperation that it will be a fair and open competition. If Wood wins it I will be behind him all the way. I am just trying to put myself in Shane Dillon’s shoes listening to all this Wood adulation.
    Regardless of how good Wood is we need Shane Dillon.
    Not to forget Nick either. He has an arm.

  9. Oh, and I’m 99.9% sure that D.D. Goodson will be a sophomore next year, not a redshirt freshman, as he played extensively at DB during the latter part of this season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.