June 27th

Skipper points his sails east

And another one’s gone …

Continuing the trend of top ranked in-state offensive linemen, Dan Skipper, from Ralston Valley (Arvada) has given his verbal commitment to a team not from Boulder.

Skipper, considered by Rivals to be the No. 4 player in the state of Colorado from the Class of 2013 (and the No. 66 offensive tackle in the nation), gave his commitment to Tennessee.

According to InsideTennessee.com … “Comparisons galore incorporate Skipper and Buena Vista. Colo., native Nate Solder, who added nearly 40 pounds to his frame from when he first arrived at Colorado as a tight end before becoming a first-round selection (17th overall) of the New England Patriots in 2011.

Although the Centennial State product is new to the radar of Vol recruiting followers, make no mistake about it, Skipper is a legitimate Div. I prospect, sporting a double-digit number of offers, including Missouri and Vanderbilt from the SEC, and Utah, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State from the Pac-12.

Skipper is just the most recent in-state offensive lineman to decide to not play for Colorado. In case you don’t want to scroll down to the June 10th story, below, here is a list of recent misses by Colorado:

Class of 2011 –

Brendon Austin – four-star prospect, top rated player out of the state of Colorado. Signed with Stanford.

Justin Hansen – three-star prospect, No. 11 player out of the state of Colorado. Signed with Colorado State.

Class of 2012 –

Joey O’Connor – four-star prospect from Windsor, Colorado. Rated as the No. 2 player out of the state of Colorado; signed with Ohio State.

Paul Thurston – four-star prospect from Arvada, Colorado. Rated as the No. 3 player out of the state of Colorado; signed with Nebraska.

Shane Callahan – four-star prospect from Parker, Colorado. Rated as the No. 4 player out of the state of Colorado; signed with Auburn.

Alex Kozan – four-star prospect from Castle Rock, Colorado. Rated as the No. 5 player out of the state of Colorado; signed with Auburn.

Class of 2013 –

Chris Fox – four-star prospect from Parker, Colorado. Considered the No. 57 player nationally; rated as the No. 1 player out of the state of Colorado for the Class of 2013. Committed to Michigan.

Blake Nowland – three-star prospect from Castle Rock, Colorado. Ranked as the No. 6 player out of the state of Colorado. Considered to be the No. 123 offensive tackle prospect by Scout. Committed to Colorado State.

While there are those who were not that high on the 6’10” Skipper (no pun intended), he was an in-state star and a consensus three-star prospect.

And another offensive lineman who turned down the University of Colorado …

June 23rd

Early commitments signal a new age of CU recruiting

Colorado already has eleven commitments for the recruiting Class of 2013.

Under Dan Hawkins, Colorado had seven recruits committed by June 23rd … in five years.

Colorado has certainly undergone a change in philosophy when it comes to recruiting.

Dan Hawkins, and, to an extent, Gary Barnett before him, recruited under a belief that a recruit which explored his options first, then committed to CU, would be a better Buff. Let them enjoy their senior season, the line of reasoning went. Let them take their five official visits. Then, once December and January hit, make your best pitch. Those that choose Colorado will be loyal Buffs for life, and will be more likely to succeed on the field.

For Dan Hawkins, though, that philosophy didn’t work out so well. Colorado had one top 25 Class during his tenure, the 15th-ranked Class of 2008. Even that Class, though, was ill-fated, with highly ranked players like Darrell Scott, Lynn Katoa, and Max Tuioti-Mariner failing to become the pillars upon which Hawkins could build a winning program.

Fast forward to the present, where CU head coach Jon Embree and Co. have instilled a new philosophy of recruiting. Colorado has joined with many other BCS schools across the country who are looking for – or at least trying for – early verbal commitments. Colorado already has 11 verbal commitments (from a Class which is likely to be in the range of 16-to-20 players). Only Arizona, which has 17 verbals to date, has more early verbal commitments amongst Pac-12 schools than does Colorado.

When the Buffs got out of the gate quickly this spring, with two four-star and one three-star commitment, there was universal support from the Buff Nation for the CU coaching staff. However, the latest recruits, those who have committed the past few weeks, have been unrated or two-star prospects, bringing about renewed hand-wringing.

The verbal commitment which brought about the most consternation was that of John Lisella, an offensive lineman from Columbine high in Littleton. Lisella was not rated by either Rivals nor Scout when he committed, and was not listed amongst the top 15 players in the state by either Rivals or the Denver Post (Lisella has since been given two stars by Scout, and did make the others “to keep an eye on” list in the Post).

What made the commitment eye-raising were two factors.

First, Colorado has been unable, for the past few seasons, to keep quality in-state offensive linemen home. Last year, four of the five top ranked players in the state were offensive linemen, and Colorado snared none of them on Signing Day (Joey O’Connor went to Ohio State, Paul Thurston to Nebraska, while Shane Callahan and Alex Kozan opted to play for Auburn). This year, the top rated player in the state, offensive lineman Chris Fox, has already committed to Michigan. The state of Colorado is producing four-star offensive lineman, yet CU can only obtain a commit from an unrated player like Lisella?

Second, the announcement of Lisella’s commitment came on the heels of one of the top remaining uncommitted players in the state, No. 6 prospect Blake Nowland, opting to commit to Colorado State. The Rams?? It was one thing to lose out on commitments to Auburn and Michigan, but Colorado State? The Rams get a top ten in-state prospect, while Colorado’s offensive line commit is someone no one has ever heard of? Who weighs all of 245 pounds??

Fine. I understand the arguments.

It says here, however, that the Buff Nation needs to dial it back a notch or two.

It is important to note that with the new “get ’em early” philosophy, there is a trade off. These new commits are just finishing off their junior years in high school. The ratings – and offer sheets – Buff fans were used to dissecting were those of players being chased by Dan Hawkins after they had completed their senior seasons, and had time to make their case to other schools. Many of these new commits are not yet on the national radar.

As many of you know, my own “rankings” of prospects has less to do with stars than it does offer sheets. My longtime yardstick for reveiwing Buff prospects was as follows:

five star – recruited nationally; with offers from BCS schools around the nation

four star – recruited by the top teams in the player’s region, be it the Pac-12, Big 12 or Big Ten

three star – recruited by BCS schools in CU’s pecking order. In prior years, CU could go head-to-head with a Nebraska or a Texas. Currently, a three-star recruit in my book would be getting offers from the likes of Utah, the Arizona schools, and the Washington schools

two star – recruited by regional non-BCS schools, like CSU, Wyoming, and the New Mexico schools.

While I still believe that the above system has merit for judging the quality of a recruit, there now needs to be an allowance for the reality of the new recruiting style of Jon Embree and staff. For example, this week quarterback recruit Sefo Liufau was told by Colorado coaches that he was the one and only quarterback the Buffs were recruiting this cycle. That’s good news for Liufau, and it is also good news for Colorado. Loyalty breeds loyalty, and Liufau is not talking with other schools about his recruitment.

The “downside”, then, is that Liufau will not be getting much recruiting attention this fall, either from the recruiting services or other schools. As a result, in my scale of rating recruits, Liufau is not likely to rise that high, barren of any big-time offers.

But that doesn’t mean that Liufau is not a top player.

I might have to figure out a new system …

Will the Brave New World of recruiting philosophy at the University of Colorado pan out?

There is no way of knowing … yet.

Still, Buff fans, we know what we had under Dan Hawkins, and it didn’t work out. Wait-and-see and hope-and-pray resulted in five straight losing seasons.

The new style may work out much better.

Jon Embree and Eric Bieniemy were not brought back to Colorado because of their head coaching resumes. Neither has one.

They were brought back, though, because they bleed black-and-gold, want nothing more than to restore the Buff program to glory …

… and because they had proven track records as recruiters.

So, at least for now, let us embrace recruits like John Lisella, and trust that Embre and Co. know what they are doing.

After all, they have a lot more at stake in trusting these 17-year olds to pan out than either you or I.

 

June 19th

Denver Post ranks its top 15 Colorado high school recruits

The Denver Post has come out with its preseason top 15 recruits from the Class of 2013.  In the top five on the list are two future Buffs, tight end Mitch Parsons, in at No. 2, and running back Phillip Lindsay, ranked No. 5. Another Buff commit, offensive lineman John Lisella, made the list of those to “Keep an eye on”.

The top player in the state, offensive lineman Chris Fox, has already committed to Michigan, while the No. 4 player, quarterback Luke Del Rio, has committed to Oklahoma State. The lone uncommitted player in the Denver Post top five is offensive lineman Dan Skipper, who holds offers from over a dozen schools, including many schools in the Pac-12, as well as Colorado and Colorado State.

Speaking of the Rams, there is sure to be some consternation over the fact that four of the Denver Post top 15 have committed to Colorado State. Granted, these players come in at No. 7, 10, 12, and 13 on the list, but No. 7, offensive lineman Blake Nowland, did hold an offer from Colorado. With a new head coach in Ft. Collins, the Rams will be looking to make an impact with in-state recruits, and it appears that, at least in the eyes of the Post, they are doing so.

How do the Denver Post top 15 compare with Rivals’ top 15?

The Rivals Colorado preseason top 15 for the recruiting Class of 2013 holds many of the same names as that of the Denver Post. The top five at Rivals contains the same five names, though Rivals reverses No. 3 and No. 4 from the Post, listing quarterback Luke Del Rio as the third-best player in the state, while putting offensive Dan Skipper at No. 4.

The two Buffs on the Rivals list hold the same position as they do in the Post, with tight end Mitchell Parsons holding the No. 2 spot and running  back Phillip Lindsay coming in at No. 5.

As for the Rams, the players who rated rankings of No. 7, 10, 12, and 13 come in over at Rivals at No. 6, No. 8, No. 9 and No. 11 – slight upgrades across the board.

Let the hand-wringing begin …

June 10th

Offensive line recruits … cause for concern?

Colorado head coach Jon Embree and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy came back to the University of Colorado in December, 2010, preaching the return of a power running game to Boulder.

For the power running game to be effective, Colorado needed some power running backs, some fullbacks, and, of course, a dominating offensive line.

The coaches have recruited new talent to the running back position, and have signed fullbacks to a roster previously devoid of them.

So, how is the recruiting of offensive linemen coming along?

This issue, as much as any other, has caused hand-wringing in the Buff Nation, particularly when the state of Colorado has produced some decent offensive linemen the past few recruiting cycles – linemen who have gone on to play at other schools.

Here is a look at the first two offensive line recruiting classes of Jon Embree and Co., as well as a look at what is being done for the recruiting Class of 2013.

Class of 2011, Signed:

Marc Mustoe – three-star prospect from Arvada, Colorado. No. 5 rated player in the state. Red-shirted in 2011; listed at backup at left tackle this spring.

Alex Kelley – three-star prospect who grayshirted this past fall, enrolling in January. Listed as third-string right guard this spring.

Brad Cotner – unrated prospect who signed with Colorado in June, 2011, after a year at Ventura Community College. Listed as backup at center this spring.

Paulay Asiata – four-star prospect who was considered to have the most upside of any player of the group. Has since left the team.

Class of 2011, Missed out on:

Brendon Austin – four-star prospect, top rated player out of the state of Colorado. Signed with Stanford.

Justin Hansen – three-star prospect, No. 11 player out of the state of Colorado. Signed with Colorado State.

Class of 2012, Signed:

Jeromy Irwin – three-star prospect from Cypress, Texas.

Gerrad Kough – two-star prospect from Pomona, California. Has since been asked to grayshirt; will enroll January, 2013.

Class of 2012, Missed out on:

Joey O’Connor – four-star prospect from Windsor, Colorado. Rated as the No. 2 player out of the state of Colorado; signed with Ohio State.

Paul Thurston – four-star prospect from Arvada, Colorado. Rated as the No. 3 player out of the state of Colorado; signed with Nebraska.

Shane Callahan – four-star prospect from Parker, Colorado. Rated as the No. 4 player out of the state of Colorado; signed with Auburn.

Alex Kozan – four-star prospect from Castle Rock, Colorado. Rated as the No. 5 player out of the state of Colorado; signed with Auburn.

Colby Cyburt – three-star prospect from California; No. 50 tackle prospect nationally. Signed with UCLA.

Nico Siragusa – three-star prospect from California; No. 75 tackle prospect nationally. Signed with San Diego State.

Class of 2013, Commitment:

Colin Sutton – three-star prospect from Orange, California. Rated as No. 43 guard prospect nationally.

UPDATE: Jonathan Huckins – three-star prospect from The Woodlands, Texas (see brief bio, below)

UPDATE: Sam Kronshage – three-star prospect from The Woodlands, Texas.

Class of 2013, Committed to other teams:

Chris Fox – four-star prospect from Parker, Colorado. Considered the No. 57 player nationally; likely to be rated as the No. 1 player out of the state of Colorado for the Class of 2013. Committed to Michigan.

Blake Nowland – three-star prospect from Castle Rock, Colorado. Considered to be the No. 123 offensive tackle prospect by Scout. Committed to Colorado State.

Sean Dowling – three-star prospect from California. Considered the No. 30 offensive guard nationally. Committed to UCLA.

Zach Golditch – an unrated prospect from Aurora, Colorado. May not have been high on the CU priority list, but it is another in-state offensive lineman who had an offer. Committed to Colorado State.

Colorado coaches can be forgiven for not bringing in a significant haul with the Class of 2011, as they came to Boulder with little time to assemble a dominating class. The concern about recruiting, especially when it comes to the offensive line, came about this past February, when there were a number of quality offensive linemen available, particularly out of the state of Colorado. Four of the top five recruits out of the Buffs’ home state were offensive linemen. The Buffs at the time were poised to sign the largest recruiting Class since 1978.

And of the four four-star in-state offensive line prospects, the Buffs signed … none of them.

Will the same hold true for the Class of 2013?

The Buff Nation certainly hopes not. It is being assumed that, even in a small signing Class of 16-18 players, that 5-7 will be offensive linemen.

So, who is still out there for the Class of 2013?

Nico Falah – 6’5″, 270-pounds, Bellflower, California. A four-star prospect listed as the No. 2 offensive tackle nationally by Scout; No. 12 by Rivals. CU has offered, but Falah told Scout this week that his final five were California, Oregon, Oklahoma, USC, and UCLA.

John Lopez – 6’5″, 328-pounds, Orange, California. A four-star prospect, listed as the No. 6 offensive tackle by Rivals; No. 32 offensive guard by Scout. Lopez has offers from over two dozen schools, and hastaken unofficial visits to Utah, Arizona State, and Washington, with potential summer visits to Washington State, Colorado, and Florida State.

Kenneth Santa Marina – 6’7″, 330-pounds, New Orleans. A four-star prospect listed as the No. 17 offensive tackle nationally by Rivals; No. 18 guard by Scout. Marina has not excluded Colorado from consideration, but has attended camps at both Alabama and LSU, and Scout indicates that these schools are favored.

Na’Ty Rodgers – 6’5″, 278-pounds, Pomfret, Maryland. A four-star prospect listed as the No. 21 offensive tackle nationally by Rivals; No. 33 guard by Scout. Rodgers has offers from over two dozen BCS schools, from Florida to Washington, and from USC to Virginia. Rodgers has taken an unofficial visit to CU, but has also been to USC, Washington, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh.

J.D. Hinnant – 6’5″, 260-pounds, Fountain Valley, California. A three-star prospect listed as the No. 45 offensive tackle nationally by Rivals; No. 37 tackle by Scout. Hinnant has offers from over half of the Pac-12, including both Washington schools and both Oregon schools. Hinnant has visits planned this summer for Washington and Duke, and has indicated he would like to visit Boulder this summer as well.

Alex Mayes– 6’6″, 275-pounds, Van Alstyne, Texas. A three-star prospect listed as the No. 41 offensive tackle by Scout. The Buffs may have a real shot at this recruit. In late May, Mayes told RedRaiderSports.com that he was excited about Minnesota and Texas Tech, but he told Kyle Ringo at BuffaloSportsNews on June 5th that his top three were Kansas State, Minnesota, and Colorado, with CU making the list without so much as a visit. “I love Colorado so far, even though I haven’t been up there,” Mayes said. “Just the things I’ve heard, it sounds like a great program. I heard it’s beautiful up in Boulder. So I’m really excited about going up and seeing everything.” Mayes has visited, or has visits set for: Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado, Arizona State, Colorado State, and Tulsa. Mayes expects to have a decision made by late summer.

Dan Skipper – 6’10”, 280-pounds, Arvada, Colorado. A three-star prospect listed as the No. 66 offensive tackle by Rivals; No. 57 offensive tackle by Scout. While not the highest-rated offensive lineman out there, and while there are concerns about Skipper’s height with relation to his mobility, this might be one of the most watched commitments by the Buff Nation over the next few months. Being yet another highly-rated in-state offensive lineman, can Colorado afford to lose more face by losing Skipper? The Ralston Valley product has offers from several Pac-12 schools, including both Washington schools and Arizona State, while also holding offers from other schools like Missouri and Northwestern. Skipper has already taken three unofficial visits to Boulder this spring, including the Spring game, but is focusing this summer on out-of-state schools. After taking in the Pacific northwest, Skipper will hit the nation’s midlands, and may also take a trip to the east coast. As for CU? “I’m looking at them very closely,” Skipper told Justin Rowland of BuffStampede.com in May. “It’s the in-state school and I really like [offensive line] coach [Steve] Marshall. He’s a great position coach. I really like what they’re doing with their program … The education there is top notch and that’s something that’s important to me.”

Jonathan Huckins – 6’4″, 306-pounds, The Woodlands, Texas. A three-star prospect in the eyes of Rivals; unrated by Scout. Huckins was in Boulder the first week of June, and apparently liked what he found. “It was amazing,” Huckins told BuffaloSportsNews.net. “From the football program to visiting the business school and talking to one of the professors and all the scenery and everything. It was just really great.” Huckins has received offers from Colorado, Iowa State and Louisiana Tech so far. He has also received strong interest from Houston, Purdue and West Virginia. “I know Colorado has an up-and-coming program,” told BuffStampede.com. “They didn’t do that great last year but I think they got a good thing going there. I like the pro-style offense that they run, they like to play a smashmouth brand of football. I think I could be a really good fit for them.”

Dwayne Johnson – 6’6″, 275-pounds, Bellaire, Texas. Johnson remains unrated by either Rivals or Scout. Nonetheless, Johnson does hold offers from CU, Tulsa, Kansas, Washington State, and SMU. Johnson played center as a junior, but will play as a tackle this fall. Johnson expects to take an unofficial visit to Colorado this summer. “The atmosphere around the school is supposed to be really nice and I also like the coaches at Colorado,” Johnson told BuffStampede.com on June 7th. “[Buffs offensive line] coach Steve Marshall told me he likes my size and that I am quick for my size. He said he thinks I could fit well into their program because they like to run the ball a lot.”

There are, of course, others. Rivals and Scout list offers from the University of Colorado to over three dozen offensive linemen. Between now and next February, the Buffs hope to corral 5-7 of those names. How highly rated they are, and, to an extent, where they are from, will go a long way in deciding whether offensive line coach Steve Marshall, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, and head coach Jon Embree, are able to put together a “smash-mouth” offensive line the Buff Nation longs for …

June 7th

Scout takes a new look at CU verbal commitments

You know the old saying: “Once you go black (and gold) … your rating goes down”.

Scout.com has put out its new post-spring updates for over 3,000 potential recruits, including the five CU verbal commitments.

How did the Buffs’ Fab Five fare?

Phillip Lindsay – running back – Committed: March 22nd. Scout rating before: unrated. Scout rating now: A two-star prospect. Lindsay is listed as the No. 112 running back nationally. Lindsay has picked up an offer from Utah since committing to Colorado.

Mitchell Parsons – tight end – Committed March 30th. Scout rating before: unrated. Scout rating now: A three-star prospect. Parsons is listed as the No. 20 tight end in the nation. Scout’s evaluation: Parsons lines all over the field and plays a lot as a wide out but projects as a tight end. He has very good hands, as good as anyone in the region and shows excellent body control as well. He adjusts well to balls high and behind him and has a large catch radius. He also shows surprising athleticism and can make plays down the field. He’s a physical kid, very tough and should be a solid blocker in college.

Sefo Liufau – quarterback – Committed: April 15th. Scout rating before: A three-star prospect; No. 51 quarterback in the nation. Scout rating now: A three-star prospect; No. 56 quarterback in the country. Scout’s evaluation: The first thing that stands out about Liufau is his toughness in the pocket. He stay’s back there, taking the heat, but staying patient, going through his progressions, and finding the open receiver. Liufau consistently stands tough in the pocket, throwing as he gets hit, and still following through to complete the pass. He’s got decent downfield arm strength, but is at his best throwing the shorter and intermediate routes.

Kyle Trammel – defensive back – Committed: April 28th. Scout rating before: unrated. Scout rating now: A two-star prospect; the No. 123 safety in the nation. Scout has yet to post a story or evaluation of Trammel.

Colin Sutton – offensive lineman – Committed: May 2nd. Scout rating before: A three-star prospect; No. 20 offensive guard in the nation. Scout rating now: A three-star prospect; No. 37 offensive guard in the country. No report since his commitment; no evaluation or reason given for Sutton’s demotion.

So, in the eyes of Scout.com, Colorado has three three-star prospects, and two two-star prospects. The two players who did have national rankings when then committed this spring have both since dropped in status in the opinion of Scout.

In other words … situation normal.

 

June 6th

No Buffs in ESPN’s Top 300

In order to make it to the ESPN list of the top 300 prospects nationwide, a prospect has to have a grade of 82 or higher.

None of the five present CU verbal commits have an ESPN grade that high, though quarterback Sefo Liufau is still considered a four-star prospect, with a grade of 80. Liufau is ranked by ESPN as the No. 17 Dual Threat quarterback in the nation.

Also thought of highly on CU’s commitment list is tight end commit Mitchell Parsons, who is considered by ESPN to be the No. 15 tight end nationally.

Phillip Lindsay rates three stars from ESPN, coming as the No. 71 running back, while Colin Sutton also gets three stars, considered the No. 68 offensive guard prospect overall.

The only Buff recruit which hasn’t been rated by ESPN is safety Kyle Trammel from Victorville, California.

As for the state of Colorado, ESPN has rated the top players out the state for the Class of 2013, with nine coming in with scores above 70. Of the nine players listed, two –  Mitchell Parsons (No. 4) and Phillip Lindsay (No. 6) – are on the list. The top two players are heading out of state, with offensive lineman Chris Fox having said “yes” to Michigan, while quarterback Luke Del Rio has given his verbal commitment to Oklahoma State.

Three of the nine players listed by ESPN have given their verbal commitments to Colorado State, with the highest rated of the three being offensive lineman Blake Nowland, No. 5 on the list.

Only two players on the list remain uncommitted, with only one of those, offensive lineman Dan Skipper (No. 3 overall) holding a scholarship offer from Colorado.

June 2nd

Colorado 44th in first team rankings; 8th in the Pac-12

Rivals has issued its first team rankings for the Class of 2013, and the Buffs’ five recruits put CU in at No. 43 nationally.

The top five in the country for the Class of 2013 are, as of the first week of June, a full seven months before Signing Day, are: Michigan; Texas; Georgia; Alabama; and Florida. The newest SEC team, Texas A&M, is in at No. 6, followed by Ohio State, LSU, Auburn and Notre Dame. For those scoring at home, that is six SEC teams in the top ten nationally.

As for the Pac-12, USC is the highest rated team, coming in at No. 11. The rest of the Pac-12:

No. 26 – UCLA

No. 36 – Oregon

No. 37 – Washington

No. 38 – Stanford

No. 41 – Arizona

No. 42 – Cal

No. 44 – Colorado

No. 61 – Washington State

No. 62T – Utah

No. 75T –  Arizona State

Unranked (no commits) – Oregon State

Colorado would have been ranked higher, above Arizona and Cal, and right behind Oregon, Washington and Stanford, but the latest rankings show that the Buffs have but one four-star tight end Mitchell Parsons. Quarterback Sefo Liufau had been rated as a four-star recruit previously, and had been ranked as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback prospect in the nation. Subsequently, Liufau has been dropped to a three-star prospect, and the No. 22 pro-style quarterback in the country.

Meanwhile, Cal quarterback commit Jared Goff, who had previously been a three-star commit (No. 21 overall) is now a four-star commit (No. 15 overall).

Conspiracy theorists … take it away …

 

May 27th

Linebacker U (Mountain division) in need of warm bodies

In his 23 years as an assistant coach at the University of Colorado, Brian Cabral has recruited and coached some of the best linebackers in the history of the CU program.

The names of Cabral’s proteges are familiar to most Buff fans … All-Americans (3): Jordon Dizon (Butkus Award runner-up), Roman Hollowell (punt returner), Matt Russell (Butkus Award winner).  All-Big Eight/12 Performers (7): Greg Biekert, Chad Brown, Dizon, Hollowell, Ted Johnson (Butkus Award runner-up), Michael Jones, Russell.  Big 12 Defensive Players of the Year (1): Dizon.  Big 12 Defensive Newcomers of the Year (1): Dizon.  NFL Players/Draft Picks (10): Biekert, Brown, Dizon, Johnson, Ron Merkerson, Hannibal Navies, Russell, Jashon Sykes, Sean Tufts, Drew Wahlroos. This fall, two more senior linebackers are in line for conference recognition, Douglas Rippy and Jon Major.

Which makes the lack of linebacker signees out of the Class of 2012 – the largest recruiting Class at CU since 1978 – all the more curious.

True, some of the nine defensive linemen or some of the nine defensive backs signed in February will make the move to linebacker at some point in their careers. But it is also true that the failure to sign a true linebacker this year, coupled with the loss of two starters this fall, makes the linebacker position a position of need for this year’s recruiting Class.

None of the five players who have given a verbal commitment to Colorado so far are linebackers. With a Class likely to be only 16-18 deep, the number of spots available for linebacker recruits is dwindling, making the need all the more acute.

So, how are the Buffs faring in their search for new linebacker talent?

According to the Rivals database, Colorado has offers out to 32 linebackers for the Class of 2013; while Scout shows 25 names. Of those recruits, 11 are four-star players in the eyes of Rivals; ten are four-star recruits in the eyes of Scout.

Let’s take a look at the top recruits, and see where the Buffs have the best shot at landing a nationally recognized prospect …

From the Rivals list, seven of the top eleven candidates have already committed to other schools, including rivals Washington and Stanford. Here are the remaining four:

Michael Hutchings – 6’2″, 210-pounds, Concord, California. Considered by Rivals to be the No. 4 outside linebacker in the nation, and the No. 17 overall prospect. Colorado is one of two dozen schools nationally who have offered Hutchings, including every Pac-12 school except Stanford. Colorado has some work to do to get on Hutchings’ radar, however. USC is considered to be his top choice, with Oregon, Washington, and Cal also in the running for Hutchings’ services. Rivals bio

Chans Cox – 6’3″, 220-pounds, Lakeside, Arizona. Considered by Rivals to be the No. 7 outside linebacker in the nation, and the No. 40 overall prospect. CU, along with most of the Pac-12, have offered Cox, but it doesn’t sound like the Buffs are in the running. “I haven’t really made a top list but I’m still talking to those top schools – USC, Washington, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Oklahoma, ASU and Boise State,” Cox told Rivals.com a few weeks ago. “Those are the schools I’ve been keeping in the most touch with.” Rivals bio

Alex Anzalone – 6’3″, 220-pounds, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. Considered by Rivals to be the No. 16 outside linebacker in the nation. Anzalone has offers from some 30 schools across the nation, including Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma. Anzalone is one of the players who had committed to Ohio State before de-committing in early May, re-opening his recruitment. Again, Colorado would be considered as a longshot for Anzalone’s signature. Rivals bio

Yannick Ngakoue – 6’3, 240-pounds, Washington D.C. Ngakoue is considered by Rivals to be the No. 17 outside linebacker in the nation. Ngakoue is another player being recruited nationally, with offers from schools like Florida, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Washington. Along with Tennessee, Ngakoue has already visited Vanderbilt, Maryland, UConn, Rutgers, Penn State and West Virginia and hopes to see more schools this summer like Notre Dame, South Carolina, Auburn and Clemson. Along with the “D.C. connection” being established by the Buffs, Ngakoue said he likes the idea of playing for an “underdog”. Rivals bio

Okay, so it doesn’t sound as if Colorado is atop the list of any of Rivals most highly rated linebackers. What about Scout’s list?

Of the ten four-star linebacker recruits Scout has offered, four have already committed elsewhere. Of the remaining six, three (Anzalone, Ngakoue and Cox) are discussed above. The three others:

Mike Mitchell – 6’4″, 215-pounds, Plano, Texas. Mitchell is rated by Scout as the No. 4 middle linebacker prospect in the nation. Mitchell has offers from over 30 schools, including Arizona, Cal, USC and Washington from the Pac-12. Although Oregon has yet to offer Mitchell, he still ranks the Ducks in his top three. “My top three would probably be Oregon, Ohio State, Ole Miss, TCU would probably be in there … There’s just a lot of colleges, so I’m still choosing,” Mitchell told eDuck.com. “There’s probably more than a top three — everyone is about the same”. Scout bio

Darian Claiborne – 6’1″, 220-pounds, Port Allen, Louisiana. Claiborne is considered by Scout to be the No. 11 middle linebacker in the country. Claiborne has offers from schools like Nebraska, Texas A&M, and TCU. Texas A&M is considered to be in the lead for Claiborne’s services, though he has plans this summer to visit Nebraska and Arkansas. If home state LSU offers, though, Claiborne’s recruitment would likely be over. Scout bio

Miles Jack– 6’3″, 230-pounds, Bellevue, Washington. Jack is rated by Scout as the No. 16 outside linebacker in the nation. Jack has offers from nine Pac-12 schools, including both Washington schools, Cal, Stanford, and UCLA. Much of Jack’s attention is coming from, and going towards, the Pac-12, where he’s spent much of his summer getting familiar with the program. He’s been to UCLA twice and to Washington on a few different occasions. “I went to Washington this week” Jack told Scout.com on May 3rd, “and I went to some of their earlier practices, and obviously, it’s close to my family. I really like the coaches there too. My teammate (Sean Constantine) just committed to them and he’s already saying something about UW every day.” Scout bio

Okay, so let me get this straight. Colorado has offers out to about a dozen linebackers who are considered by the rating services to be four-star prospects, and the Buffs are in the running for …

… none of them.

Things can – and will – change between now and Signing Day next February. Some of the above recruits may take a second look at Colorado. Some of the multitude of three-star linebacker prospects who have offers from the Buffs may have monster senior years and turn into four-star prospects.

For now, though, the offer sheet looks fairly bleak. Colorado has listed linebacker as a top priority for the recruiting Class of 2013, but CU does not appear to be on the radar of any top linebacker recruits.

May 20th

USC continues recruiting dominance

The USC Trojans may be limited to 15 scholarships next February, and will be limited to a roster of 75 this fall and next, but … who cares?

USC already has seven commitments for the Class of 2013, with two five-star recruits and five four-star recruits. This past week, the Trojans picked up two running backs, Ty Isaac and Justin Davis. Isaac, from Joliet, Illinois, is considered by Rivals to be the No. 2 running back in the nation, and the No. 18 overall prospect. Davis, from Stockton, California, is rated by Rivals as the No. 5 running back in the country, and the No. 48 player overall.

The other recruits which have given verbals to USC include quarterback Max Browne, considered to be the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation, and Kenny Bigelow, rated as the No. 1 defensive end in the country.

Even with limitations, USC continues to dominate recruiting.

Can’t wait to see what the Class of 2015 will look like, when the Trojans will be done with restrictions, and will be able to really stock up on talent …

May 13th

Colorado State picks up third off-the-radar commit

While Jim McElwain may prove to be a recruiting genius, the evidence is certainly not on his side to date.

The 2012 recruiting Class was certainly not all the doing of McElwain, who was busy until January 9th coaching at Alabama. Still, the first Class of the McElwain era consisted of 21 players, three of whom merited three stars, eight which were two stars, and ten players which were unrated (Rivals ratings). According to Rivals, CSU’s Class of 2012 was ranked 120th out of 120 Division 1-A schools.

Now that McElwain has become entrenched in Ft. Collins, how is the Class of 2013 coming along?

This past weekend, Colorado State picked up commitment No. 3, Trae Moxley, a 6’4″, 260-pound tight end from Roaring Fork high in Colorado. Moxley was the leading receiver for a 3-7 Class 2A program last fall, and does not show up in the database at either Rivals or Scout.

Moxley joins Jake Bennett, a Bear Creek offensive lineman, and Austin Berk, a defensive end from Grand Junction, on the Rams’ recruiting list. Bennett had an offer from Wyoming, while Berk had offers from Air Force and South Dakota State. Neither of these players have been rated by Rivals, though Austin Berk does show up as a three-star prospect on Scout’s website.

It’s a long road from Tuscaloosa to Ft. Collins.

A long road indeed.

CU Junior Day – Spring Game Attendees

As official visits from the recruits of the Class of 2013 will not – cannot – begin until the fall, Junior Days are, by definition, “unofficial visits”. This being the case, schools do not release lists of junior who attend practices and spring practices. It is left to the recruiting services to gather information on potential visitors. BuffStampede.com is the best at giving us names, and below are some of the names which are being bandied about as possible visitors this week.

Head coach Jon Embree said on Monday that there may as many as 50 prospects on campus for Junior Day, with as many as 35 coming from out of state. As many names as can be identified will be profiled below.

Posted below – Quarterbacks; running backs; wide receivers/tight ends; offensive linemen; and linebackers …

Linebackers

Colorado did not sign any linebackers as part of the large recruiting Class of 2012. That being said, in the CU defensive scheme, often it is difficult to see much difference between a rush defense end and an outside linebacker on one end of the scale, as well as the difference between some of the Buffs’ weakside linebackers and their nickel backs and safeties. Some of the nine defensive linemen signed last February may become linebackers, as may some of the nine defensive backs who also became Buffs on Signing Day.

Still, in the small senior class of 2012, Colorado will be losing two significant contributors, Doug Rippy and Jon Major. It would be a surprise if Colorado did not sign 2-4 linebackers next February. Perhaps as many as a dozen linebacker recruits will be in Boulder for Junior Days this weekend. Here are some of the top recruits CU coaches are hoping to sign:

Peyton Pelluer… is a three-star linebacker prospect from Sammamish, Washington. Pelluer is 6’2″, 235-pounds, and had 329 tackles the past two seasons (263 solo), leading the state of Washington in tackles both seasons. Colorado was the first to offer Pelluer, who has since picked up offers from Washington State, Arizona State, and Wyoming. Pelluer has already taken an unofficial visit to Washington State, and liked what he saw. “I really like what they’re doing over there,” Pelluer told CougFan.com. “And I truly believe they’re going to have success there…The situation over there with the players being comfortable with one another and the coaches, Coach Leach and the middle linebacker depth, that I have lots of friends that go there — all of those things play into it, that they’re my leading school right now.” Rivals bio Scout bio

Patrick Healy … is an unrated linebacker prospect from Mullen high in Denver. Healy is 6’1″, 222-pounds, and runs a 4.9 in the 40. Healy does not have any scholarship offers at this time, though he does report interest from Air Force, Arizona State, UConn, Villanova and Nebraska. Other schools on Healy’s radar include Northwestern, UCLA, and Washington. Healy had one other brother play football for UConn, while another brother is at the Air Force Academy. Healy reports having regular contact with CU linebackers’ coach Brian Cabral, as well as a friendship with former teammate – and current Buff sophomore linebacker – Brady Daigh. Rivals bio Scout bio

Castille Bayers … is an unrated linebacker prospect from Mullen high in Denver. Bayers has about the same build as his teammate, Patrick Healy, coming in at 6’2″, 220-pounds, with a 4.81 time in the 40. Bayers is looking to Colorado for his first scholarship offer, though San Diego State seems to have been having the most contact. Duke and Arizona State are showing interest, as are Mountain West schools UNLV, Wyoming, and New Mexico. Bayers also reports a desire to play in the Pac-12 or Mountain West conferences, so that he can play games closer to home (San Diego State joined the Big East in December). Rivals bio

George Frazier … is an unrated linebacker prospect from Monrovia, California. Frazier is 6’2, 230-pounds, and had 84 tackles in his junior season. A first-team all-league, all-CIIF and all-area selection as a junior, Frazier spends time playing both outside linebacker and defensive end for Monrovia. Frazier currently holds offers from Colorado and San Jose State, though he does have interest from Cal, Washington, Oregon State and UCLA from the Pac-12, as well as from schools like Auburn, San Diego State, and Florida State. “Colorado is good,” Frazier told BuffStampede.com. “Being the first big school to offer gives them a little advantage because it shows they really do want me, I am not just a back-up to them. I am definitely considering playing for them.” Rivals bio Scout bio

Griffith Gates … is an unrated linebacker from Pleasanton, California. Frazier is 6’3″, 228-pounds, and is considered by Rivals to be a defensive end prospect.  Gates already has a number of honors on his resume: All-State Class of 2013 Team – 2nd Team (ESPN High School / Cal-Hi Sports – voted by state writers); All-East Bay Team – 2nd Team (Bay Area News Group – voted by regional writers); All-League Team – 1st Team (East Bay Athletic League – voted by coaches); Invited to the Semper Fidelis All-American Proving Ground National Combine in Phoenix. Gates received the most 1st Team votes (DL) from the EBAL coaches and was named to the 2nd Team All-East Bay Defensive Team (Bay Area News Group). He was also the recipient of his team’s Outstanding Defensive Lineman Award. As Foothill’s starting Fullback, he was their leading rusher and had nearly a 5.0 yards per carry average and 10 touchdowns (125 – 623 – 10). Gates is still looking for his first scholarship offer, but he has attended a football camp at UCLA, and has interest from all over the country, with teams like Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin on his radar. From the Pac-12, CU may be competing with Cal, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA and Washington for Gates’ services. Rivals bio Scout bio

Connor O’Brien … is a three-star linebacker prospect from Rancho Santa Margarita, California (and is the fourth player from that team visiting Boulder this weekend, joining offensive linemen Riley Sorenson, center Dane Crane, and quarterback Johnny Stanton, all profiled below). O’Brien is 6’4″, 205-pounds, and runs a 4.6 in the 40, which might make O’Brien a likely candidate to move to safety in college. O’Brien was named 1st team all-Trinity League and 1st team All-Orange County following his junior season, leading the CIF-SS Pac-5 Division in interceptions with eight, finishing second in the state in that category. O’Brien reports offers from five Pac-12 schools, including Oregon, Cal, Oregon State, and Washington State in addition to Colorado. The Buffs might have an “in” with O’Brien, as he has family connections on the Colorado football team – his father and an uncle both played for the Buffaloes. Rivals bio Scout bio

Offensive Linemen

Colorado loses only one offensive lineman after this fall, right guard Ryan Dannewitz. Unlike the defensive line, which remains imbalanced, the CU offensive line is fairly well aligned, with three juniors, four sophomores, two red-shirt freshmen, and three true freshmen on the roster. Even with the overall lack of available scholarships, it would be a surprise if the Buffs do not try to pick up 2-3 offensive linemen next February.

Robert McGee … is a three-star offensive tackle prospect from Westlake Village, California (if the hometown sounds familiar, it is also the home of CU wide receiver Nelson Spruce and 2012 defensive tackle Johnny Stuart). McGee is seen by Rivals as an offensive tackle, while Scout rates McGee as a center. McGee has already been selected to play in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and has been named ESPN top 150 for 2013. McGee is still looking for offers, but has interest from a number of schools, including Oregon, Stanford, USC and UCLA from the Pac-12, along with Michigan, Nebraska and Iowa from the Big Ten. Rivals bio Scout bio 

Riley Sorenson… is a three-star offensive tackle from Rancho Santa Margarita, California (and the teammate of center Dane Crane and quarterback Johnny Stanton – bios below). Sorenson is rated by Scout as being the No. 41 offensive tackle in the nation. “I’m going to Colorado this Saturday for an unofficial visit,” Sorenson told Scout.com. “This will be my first time seeing the school and I’m really looking forward to it. They were my first offer so I’m excited for the visit.” Sorenson either has visited or will visit Washington, UCLA, and USC. “Right now, I’m just riding the process out and there’s a chance I could make an early commitment. It just depends on how the process is going and how I’m feeling after these visits.” Rivals bio Scout bio

Dan Skipper … is a three-star offensive tackle from Arvada, Colorado. Skipper is hard to miss, being 6’10”, 280-pounds, and is special importance to the Buff Nation. Skipper will likely rate as one of the top players out of the state of Colorado this recruiting cycle, so his choice of schools will be closely watched. Skipper has offers from all over the nation, from Vanderbilt to Duke to Missouri. From the Pac-12, Skipper has offers from Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah, and both Washington schools. Rivals bio Scout bio

Skipper also has, notably, has an offer from Colorado State. “It was good,” Skipper told GoldandGreenNews.com after taking in Junior Days in Ft. Collins. “We met with some of the players that were there and the coaches, and then we toured the facilities. I talked with Coach Mac at the end as well as (offensive line) Coach Frazier.

“I want to play at a place that has a great game day atmosphere and where I can get a top flight education. I also want to play for someone that can get me to the next level.” … That should eliminate Colorado State, which averaged 21,867 (67% of capacity, despite home games against local rivals Air Force and Wyoming).

Cameron Hunt … is a three-star offensive tackle from Corona, California. Hunt is 6’5″, 270-pounds, and has offers from Arizona, Duke, and Washington State. Hunt has visited other schools in search of offers, most notably UCLA. Hunt reports that he is also hearing from Oregon, Missouri, Utah and Stanford. Rivals bio Scout bio

“ASU is the early leader,” Hunt told Rivals.com. “I don’t know about Duke yet because I haven’t gone to their campus yet. Colorado and Washington State are also really good programs and I’m going up to Colorado for its spring game. I don’t know when I can get up there but if I take my five officials I’d like to take one to Washington State to check out that campus.”

Dane Crane … is a three-star center prospect from Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Despite only receiving three-stars, Crane is rated by both Rivals and Scout as the No. 4 center prospect in the nation. Crane is the teammate of quarterback Johnny Stanton, who is also visiting Boulder this weekend (bio below). Crane currently only has offers from Colorado and Washington, though that is likely to change. Florida State and San Diego State are possibilities, as are the Oregon schools and the LA schools. Rivals bio Scout bio 

“(With Colorado) I’ve talked with all the coaches on the phone,” Crane told Rivals.com. “I met coach (Steve) Marshall my sophomore year. He came out for spring practice. That’s where the relationship was established. I’m really excited to get out to campus, meet face-to-face and see if it’s a place where I could fit in.”

Wide Receivers / Tight ends

The Buffs have a four-star tight end, Mitchell Parsons (see bio, below), already on the commitment list, but it is no secret that the Buffs are still in need of more talent and speed at the wideout positions.

Harrison Handley … is a three-star wide receiver/tight end from Sandy, Utah. Rivals has Handley, who is 6’6″, 200-pounds, as a wide receiver prospect, while Scout sees Handley as a future tight end (assuming he can put on a great deal more bulk without losing any speed). To date, Handley only has offers from in-state schools BYU and Utah State, but may pick up an offer from CU coaches if he passes the eye test while taking his unofficial visit this weekend. Rivals bio Scout bio

Mitchell Parsons … already a CU commit

Just the facts … Committed March 30th … Parsons is a tight end prospect from Parker (Chaparral) Colorado. Parsons is 6’5″, 220-pounds. Rivals bio Scout bio ESPN bio

What others say about Parsons … Parsons is considered to be a four-star prospect by Rivals, but is not yet rated by Scout (although Scout does have Parsons as one of the top five tight ends in the West). Parsons is considered to be the No. 11 tight end in the nation by Rivals. Last season Parsons, like Phillip Lindsay, was one of five juniors named the Denver Post All-state team, all in his first year playing the position. A player evaluation from Scout had this to say about Parsons: “Parsons lines all over the field and plays a lot as a wide out but projects as a tight end. He has very good hands, as good as anyone in the region and shows excellent body control as well. He adjusts well to balls high and behind him and has a large catch radius. He also shows surprising athleticism and can make plays down the field. He’s a physical kid, very tough and should be a solid blocker in college.”

Running backs

Colorado already has one running back commit from the Class of 2013, Phillip Lindsay (bio below), but that does not mean the search is over.

Terrell Newby … is a three-star running  back from West Hills, California. Rivals rates Newby as the No. 31 running back in the nation, while Scout sees Newby as the No. 42 running back nationally. Even though it is fairly early in the recruiting season, Newby already has offers from much of the Pac-12, including: Oregon; Arizona State; Washington State: Utah; and Oregon State (Newby also has an offer from Nebraska). Rivals bio Scout bio

Newby has already been making the rounds, and plans to continue checking out schools this spring and summer. “I’ll be going to USC’s camp during the summer and I’m going to one of their spring practices,” Newby told Scout.com. “UCLA’s running back coach, Coach (Steve) Broussard, wants me to come to their camp and their spring practices as well and I went to their Junior Day. I also went to Cal’s Junior Day and had a good time there too.” Next month, Newby is heading to Colorado and Oregon to take unofficial visits. “On April 14th, I’m headed to Colorado and I’m also going to Oregon some time next month,” said Newby. (Although it should be noted that HuskerOnline.com has a quote from Newby that he was planning on heading to Lincoln this weekend).

Phillip Lindsay … already a CU Commit

Just the facts … Committed March 22nd … Lindsay is a running back prospect from Denver South high. Lindsay is 5’10″, 173-pounds, and runs a 4.49 in the 40. Rivals bio  Scout bio ESPN bio 

What other say about Lindsay … Lindsay is considered to be a three-star prospect by Rivals, but is not yet rated by Scout. A three-year starter, Lindsay has already rushed for 4,288 yards and recorded nearly 300 tackles during his prep career at Denver South. Lindsay was one of four juniors named first-team all-state at the 5A classification by the Denver Post in December. Lindsay was voted First Team West Metro All-Conference at running back, and was also named to the second team as a linebacker. Lindsay’s 9.2 yards per carry average in 2011 was third best among 5A backs with at least 153 carries. In seven of 10 games in 2011, Lindsay rushed for more than 163 yards, with the junior accumulating 1,763 and 13 touchdowns on the season. He had a 300-yard, four-touchdown performance in the Rebels’ 64-13 victory over Lincoln in mid-October. Lindsay also returns punts, returns kicks and starts at linebacker for Denver South (ESPN is listing Lindsay as a cornerback prospect, but he is being recruited by Colorado as a running back).

Quarterbacks 

Colorado head coach Jon Embree has been quoted as saying that he expects to recruit a quarterback with each class, and the Class of 2013 should be no different. The Buffs have offered a number of high-profile quarterbacks, including several which may be patrolling the sidelines of Folsom Field for the Spring game.

Sefo Liufau … is a four-star quarterback from Tacoma, Washington. Rivals rates Liufau as the No. 12 quarterback in the nation, and No. 196 on its list of top 250 players in the nation. Colorado was the first to offer Liufau, though the pro-style quarterback has interest from all over the country, including both in-state Pac-12 schools, both Oregon schools, Stanford, Alabama, Notre Dame and Nebraska. Rivals bio Scout bio

Liufau has already taken an unofficial visit to Washington State, and likes what he sees with new head coach Mike Leach. “He is a great guy,” Liufau told Scout.com. “That was the first time I have met him. From the small time talking to him, I can tell he is a great guy. The whole staff is fired up, they have big plans over there. They are looking to do damage in the Pac-12.” Still, Colorado is the first school to make Liufau an offer. “Coach Embree is a great coach and seems ready to turn the program around this year,” said Liufau.

Conner Manning … is a three-star quarterback from Lake Forest, California. Manning is 6’2″, 195-pounds, and is considered a pro-style quarterback. Last season, in leading his team to a league championship, Manning, in 14 games, went 327-of-527 (62%) for 4,129 yards and 41 touchdowns, with only 8 interceptions. Manning’s 4,129 yards set a county record. Not a big deal … until you know that the previous record holder, with 3,560 yards, was USC quarterback (and Heisman front-runner) Matt Barkley.  Just this past week, Manning earned quarterback MVP honors at Sunday’s Southern California Nike Football Training Camp. Rivals bio Scout bio

As of yet, Manning does not have any known offers from any schools (including Colorado) though he does have interest from a number of schools. Wisconsin and Hawai’i are recruiting Manning, as are several Pac-12 schools, including USC, Oregon State, and Utah.

Johnny Stanton… is a three-star quarterback from Rancho Santa Margarita, California. Rivals rates Stanton as the No. 20 pro-style quarterback prospect in the nation, while Scout rates Stanton at No. 36. As a 2011 junior, Stanton threw for 2,439 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions while rushing for 1,528 yards and 25 touchdowns and led the Eagles to the CIF-SS Pac-5 title and the CIF State D-I title. Rivals bio Scout bio 

Stanton already has offers from Cal, Air Force and Washington, with numerous other offers expected this spring. Stanton plans on making the rounds in the state of Colorado this April, visiting CU, Colorado State, and Air Force. Stanton has already visited Cal for the Bears’ junior days, and came away impressed. “Cal is a great program and has been at the forefront from the conference as long as I can remember,” Stanton told Scout.com. “I attended Junior Day and really liked it a lot there. They’re rebuilding the stadium and the facilities and weight room are incredible … My (high school) quarterback coach, Nate Longshore, went to Cal and he has told me a lot about the school”. Despite Cal’s “in” with Stanton, the junior has pledged to keep an open mind this recruiting season, and claims to have no favorites at this time.

 

CU Junior Days – Part One

March 24th

A few other names have surfaced who were in attendance at the first Junior Day held last weekend.

Mitchell Parsons … is a four-star tight end prospect from Chaparral high in Parker, Colorado. Parsons is rated by Rivals as the No. 11 tight end prospect in the nation by Rivals. Parsons currently only has offers from Mississippi and Colorado, but Parsons has interest from all over the nation, including Michigan, Nebraska, BYU, Washington, Cal, Stanford, Vanderbilt, the Oklahoma schools and the Arizona schools.

Parsons was in Boulder last weekend, and told Scout.com that the Buffs have been putting in a great deal of time with him and he’s intrigued by the idea of playing for a head coach, Jon Embree, who was a tight end. “I really like Coach Embree and Coach (J.D.) Brookhart,” said Parsons. “They really like using the tight end position and they both have a lot of experience using the tight end so that stands out to me. Plus they’re close to home and I think they’re really on their way up. And I’ve been there a bunch.”

Here is what one scout had to say about Parsons: “Parsons lines all over the field and plays a lot as a wide out but projects as a tight end. He has very good hands, as good as anyone in the region and shows excellent body control as well. He adjusts well to balls high and behind him and has a large catch radius. He also shows surprising athleticism and can make plays down the field. He’s a physical kid, very tough and should be a solid blocker in college.”

While Parsons likes Colorado, he has told recruiting services that he is enjoying the recruiting process, and is not expected to make a commitment anytime soon.

Austin Berk… is a defensive end prospect from Grand Junction. Berk is not yet rated by either Rivals or Scout. Berk committed to Colorado State Friday. The 6-5 235 pound defender was one of Colorado’s leaders in sacks posting 10.5 this past season. Possessing great size, solid speed and a strong motor, Berk was being pursued by multiple schools.

Regarding the Rams and his commit Berk said, “It just felt like the place for me.” Addressing the early verbal Berk states, “I was just ready.” At CSU Berk will most likely put his pass rushing skills to work as a hybrid defensive end/ outside linebacker.

Colorado has not extended an offer to Berk, though if it does, Berk may reconsider. Berk grew up cheering for the Buffs, as his father, Mike, lettered playing guard for Chuck Fairbanks in 1981.

Trenton Noeller … is a center prospect who is a member of the recruiting Class of 2014. Presently a sophomore at Windsor high school, Noeller is already attracting attention nationally. Neoller was in Boulder for the first Junior Day, and will be back for the Buffs’ Big Man Camp this summer.

March 17th

With all of the attention from the Buff Nation focused on the Buffs’ run in the NCAA tournament, the first week of spring practices for the CU football team have gone by all but unnoticed.

Here’s hoping that the enthusiasm for all things Buff spilled over onto the CU practices fields on Saturday, as Colorado hosted the first of two Junior Days. As many as ten local high school juniors took in the first spring scrimmage Saturday, the second practice for the Buffs in pads (the first was on Thursday. Previously, the Buffs were in shorts and helmets).

One prospect in attendance was running back Phillip Lindsay, from Denver South high. Lindsay is 5’10”, 173-pounds, and runs a 4.49 in the 40. Lindsay figures to be one of the top-10 recruits in the state in the 2013 cycle. He already has rushed for more than 4,000 yards in his prep career as a three-year starter.  Last season, Lindsay earned all-state honors as a junior in 2011 after rushing for nearly 1,800 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also starred on defense and racked up 110 tackles on the season. Rivals bio Scout bio 

“Right now, CU and CSU have been on me hard, but as of now I’m thinking about verbally committing to CU” Lindsay told BuffStampede.com this past week. “But I want to keep my options open because I also have CSU in mind and I’m young right now. So, I’m trying to be patient on everything.”

The majority of junior prospects from the Class of 2013 are expected for the Buffs’ Spring game, to be conducted April 14th.

If I can get the names of some other visiting juniors from Saturday, I will post their biographies here …

 

March 6th

CU offers another four-star quarterback

A day after listing the three high-profile quarterbacks Colorado has offered from the Class of 2013 (Max Browne, Cooper Batemen, and Jarrett Solomon – see bios, below), the Buffs went ahead and offered a scholarship to yet another four-star pro-style quarterback.

Sefo Liufau is 6’4″, 215-pound quarterback from Tacoma, Washington. Liufau can reportedly run a 4.5 in the 40, and carries a 3.6 GPA. Rivals rates Liufau as the No. 196 overall prospect in the nation. Liufau has interest from all over the nation, including both Washington schools, both Oregon schools, Nebraska, Alabama, Stanford, and Notre Dame. Rivals bio Scout bio 

Yet Liufau only has one scholarship offer to date … from the University of Colorado.

“Only my family and coaches know.  And I wanted to let you know too,” Sefo told WashingtonPreps.com.  “Colorado made me an offer to play quarterback for them on scholarship. I loved speaking with the staff.  It was a great conversation and basically they said I am their primary quarterback recruit.  They run a Pro Style offense and their offense reflects a lot of what we run at Bellarmine,” he added saying he is excited and honored to have his first offer be from a Pac 12 South Team.

The family oriented honor student hails from Polynesian roots where his mother and father instilled in him the tenants he lives by daily.

“Of course the whole family was so excited when I got off the phone.  I am the oldest one of us and we are all going to enjoy this together.  This is my first offer but you know it is a first for them too.  When we all reflected on it there was a real sense of joy and happiness to be so blessed,” added Liufau.

Part of the family involvement will include a trip to Boulder in April where the Liufau crew will go with their oldest child when  he makes an unofficial visit to meet the staff, tour the University, and see the Spring scrimmage.  The family has been behind him all the way and he intends to keep them involved.  While they can not make it to all his trips this one could be special.

“Going together will be great.  My brother has school so he might miss it but otherwise we will all go together and make it fun.  That is the one thing we are all trying to remember.  To have fun!  This is only going to happen for me once so we will keep all of these blessings in mind,” he concluded.

Liufau has already taken an unofficial visit to Pullman to visit with quarterback guru Mike Leach at Washington State.

“Oh yeah, had a great time over there,” Sefo told Scout.com a month ago. “I went over with my dad … It was a great day and great experience. I loved the atmosphere.”

Liufau singled out his time talking with the new coaching staff as a highlight of the trip.

“We had an individual position meeting and I did talk to Mike Leach,” said Liufau. “He is a great guy, that was the first time I have met him. From the small time talking to him, I can tell he is a great guy. The whole staff is fired up, they have big plans over there. They are looking to do damage in the Pac-12.”

Liufau also had nice things to say about Utah. “I’ve talked to (quarterback) coach Duff at Utah and they’ve been sending me a lot of stuff. I think Utah is a great program,” Liufau told InsidetheUtes.com. “I watched their bowl game when they had a great come from behind win. Coach Duff is a great guy and I’ve really liked getting to know him.”

So, while Colorado may have been the first to offer Liufau, the Buffs will certainly not be the last.

March 5th

Stanford lands a top quarterback early

Andrew who?

While the post-Andrew Luck era officially got underway last week, as Stanford opened spring practices for 2012, the Cardinal already have an eye on the recruiting Class of 2013.

Ryan Burns, a four-star quarterback recruit out of Ashburn, Virginia, gave his verbal commitment to Stanford over the weekend. Burns is considered by Rivals to be a four-star prospect, and is rated as the No. 47 overall player in the nation. Rivals bio

Burns had offers from all over the nation, including Boston College, Penn State, West Virginia, Maryland and Tennessee.

Colorado, which has expressed an interest in signing a quarterback each season, has offers out to at least three top prospects:

Max Browne, from Sammamish, Washington, is ranked by Rivals as the No. 8 overall prospect in the country. Rivals bio  Scout bio

Cooper Batemen, from Salt Lake City, is ranked by Rivals as the No. 129 overall prospect in the nation. Rivals bio Scout bio

Jarrett Solomon, from Las Vegas, (who is listed as Anu Solomon by Scout), is considered to be the No. 132 overall player in the country by Rivals. Rivals bio  Scout bio

 

February 29th

CU attempts to establish another high school pipeline

H.D. Woodson high west?

This past recruiting cycle, Colorado received three commitments from the same Washington D.C. high school. The “D.C. Three” – defensive back Kenneth Crawley, defensive back John Walker, and defensive lineman De’Jon Wilson – join 2011 CU recruit Sherrard Harrington on the Buffs’ roster this fall.

Not content with one high school pipeline, Colorado also received three commitments this February from Upland high school in California – running back Donta Abron, defensive back Marques Mosley, and fullback Christian Powell.

Over the next few seasons Colorado may perhaps establish yet another regular path from the prep ranks to Folsom Field.

This week, Colorado offered three players from La Mirada high in California, a school where the Buffs have an “in” … the head coach at La Mirada is former Colorado quarterback Mike Moschetti.

It may take some time to fully establish the pipeline though, as the three players CU offered are a senior-to-be, a junior-to-be, and a sophomore-to-be.

That’s correct … CU has already made an offer to a player who is currently a freshman in high school.

The member of the Class of 2013 the Buffs are after is middle linebacker prospect Kao Kaleopaa. The 6-3.5, 250-pounder anchored the Matadores defense in 2011. Rivals bio  Scout bio

The junior-to-be who now has an offer from Colorado is tight end Tyler Luatua. At 6’4″, 230-pounds, Luatua already has another offer – from UCLA – after catching 23 passes for 251 yards as a sophomore. Luatua’s brother, Isaac, red-shirted this past fall at Alabama.

The current freshman who is attracting attention from a number of BCS schools is quarterback Kevin Dillman. According to Scout.com, Dillman was offered by UCLA on Wednesday morning and the Buffs joined the fray just hours later. The 6-4, 205-pounder was 18-for-26 for 216 yards with two touchdowns as a freshman and ran for 103 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown as the backup for Mike Moschetti’s offense.

Moschetti played quarterback for the Buffs in the late 1990’s, when Jon Embree was an assistant coach at Colorado. Moschetti led the team in passing in 1998 and 1999, starting all but one game over those two seasons. Moschetti set a single game record in passing for 465 yards in a rout of San Jose State in 1999. He finished his CU career ranked 5th all-time on the passing charts, with 4,797 yards and 33 touchdowns.

February 19th

Here we go again?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before …

Another top in-state offensive lineman has chosen to leave the state, instead of playing for Colorado.

Chris Fox, a four-star prospect in the eyes of both Rivals and Scout, has given his verbal commitment to Michigan. Fox, considered by Rivals to be the No. 46 overall prospect in the nation, became the ninth player (with eight of them being four star recruits) to already give their commitment to the Wolverines.

“I’ve known I wanted to go there since I went to their summer camp last year and there’s nothing better than Michigan,” Fox told GoBlueWolverine.com.  “I’ve just known in my mind that that’s where it’s at. It has everything… the coaches, facilities, and location… I’ve got tons of family out there. It’s the best.”

In addition to Colorado, Fox had offers from most of the Big Ten, as well as schools like Florida State from the ACC and Missouri from the SEC.

Last season, four of the top five prospects out of the state of Colorado were offensive linemen, with all four opting to go out of state: Joey O’Connor (Ohio State); Paul Thurston (Nebraska); Shane Callahan (Auburn) and Alex Kozan (TBD – but CU is not in the running).

February 13th

Colorado forced to be selective for Class of 2013

From a wealth of scholarships to offer to a dearth.

Colorado signed 27 players on Signing Day, the largest Class at CU since 1978.

That large Class, though, will be offset by a much smaller Class in 2013. The Buffs only have ten seniors on scholarship. With attrition, the number is expected to rise to about 15 to 18 by February, 2013.

Which leaves the margin for error with this Class very small.

“It will be basically this: If you don’t want the kid to come, don’t offer,” Embree said when asked how selective they will be with 2013 offers given the smaller class size. “Don’t extend an offer, and then he calls the next day [to commit] and you have buyer’s remorse. That’ll be the first criteria. We, our position coaches, better be sure. If you only get one [player at a position], you better be sure that’s the kid you want with that one. That will be how we go along building it.”

32 juniors in the Rivals.com database already claim a verbal offer from the Buffaloes (31 in the Scout database)

Included on those lists are four in-state prospects.

The local recruit drawing the most early interest is Parker (Colo.) Ponderosa offensive tackle Chris Fox. The 6-foot-6, 297-pound lineman received his first offer from CU after showing well at the Buffs’ Big Man camp last June. He has since added offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa and Purdue. Fox also lists Notre Dame, Oregon State, Washington and UCLA amongst his top choices for school.

Parker (Colo.) Chaparral tight end Mitchell Parsons, Arvada (Colo.) Ralston Valley offensive tackle Dan Skipper and Denver East running back Phillip Lindsay are the other three in-state players claiming offers from Colorado. To date, none of these three players have been rated by either Rivals or Scout.

February 9th

Never too early …

Yes, you read it correctly. It’s already time to start looking at the Colorado recruiting Class of 2013. The Buffs will only have 15-18 scholarships to work with, so this next Class will have to be more about quality and less about quantity.

One name you are going to be hearing about a great deal over the next 12 months is Chris Fox. A 6’6″, 297-pound offensive tackle from Ponderosa high in Parker, Colorado, Fox is considered to be a four-star prospect. When Rivals released its top 250 players in the nation list this week, Fox was the only player from the state of Colorado to make the list, coming in at No. 46. (Rivals bio).

Fox already has an impressive offer sheet, with many of the schools who have known offers coming from the Big Ten, including Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa and Purdue. The list is certain to grow over the next few months, so the Colorado coaches will have their work cut out for them.

With the offensive line always an area of need, combined with the fact Colorado missed out on some top in-state offensive line talent with this recruiting Class, special attention will be paid by the Buff Nation to the recruitment of Chris Fox.

And so it begins …

 

 

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