Meet the CU Recruiting Class of 2015 – Defense

Nothing is certain until Wednesday, February 4th, when the Letters of Intent are received by the Colorado coaching staff at the Dal Ward Center, but we do have a fairly good idea of the makeup of CU’s Recruiting Class of 2015. Below is a position-by-position look at CU’s current roster of players on defense, together with a detailed look at the verbal commitments CU has received at those positions

… An introduction to the new Buffs who will play on the offensive side of the ball was posted last weekend, and can be found here …

Notes … The year of eligibility listed for each player is for the 2015 season … Returning starters are listed in bold … Non-scholarship players (at least at this point) are listed in italics

Defensive Tackle

Seniors: Josh Tupou … Justin Solis … John Tuso

Juniors: Clay Norgard … Samson Kafovalu … Jordan Carrell (JC)

Sophomore: Eddy Lopez

Red-shirt freshman: Jase Franke

Jordan Carrell – DL – Junior College transfer

Just the facts … Committed November 13th … Carrell is a 6’3″, 275-pound defensive tackle playing at American River Community College in Sacramento, California. Carrell is on pace to finish his two-year degree in December, and will have three years to play two at Colorado  Rivals bio  Scout bio

What others say about Carrell … Carrell is rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals, but a two-star prospect by Scout. Carrell led the Beavers with eight sacks and 13 tackles-for-loss while posting 58 tackles, as American River went 10-2 this fall. For his efforts, Carrell was named the Northern California Football Conference defensive MVP. Head coach Jon Osterhout said that Carrell deserves the award. “He’s a tremendous player for us and an intricate player on the team,” Osterhout told The Current. “He’s a worker, loves the weight room, loves practice, (and) does well in the classroom.” He was chosen by a unanimous decision as a first team all conference player. They then sent him for consideration at the NorCal conference where other coaches voted to make him the defensive MVP. “I won this award because of my prep for the season. I didn’t take any time off and tried to be at the top in everything,” said Carrell.

“He’s been here for two years (and) has taken all of the steps necessary to be a tremendous football player,” said Osterhout. “(Carrell) is going to be a great player for the Buffaloes. He has a high football IQ and loves the game. He’s only going to get better. He’s a football player in the purest sense.”

As a freshman in 2013, Carrell had a solid season, racking up 30 tackles, four sacks, 10 tackles-for-loss, two fumble recoveries, an interception, four pass breakups and one blocked field goal.

Carrell had other offers from … Idaho, Cal Poly, Florida A&M, Northern Arizona and UC-Davis. No Power-Five conference offers, and only one FBS offer. Carrell took only one official visit, and that was to Colorado. Offensive lineman Sully Wiefels, who transferred to Colorado last December, was a teammate of Carrell’s at American River Community College in 2013.

In his own words … Carrell enjoyed a solid prep career at Roseville (Ca.) High School, but he was unable to get qualified for a scholarship to a four-year program.  “I actually took a year off from football because I had a broken bone in my wrist and during that time I decided to come here to American River,” Carrell told this past summer. “I grew up with coach (Jon) Osterhout’s son and figured it would be a good place for me to be and it’s turning out to be a good move for me. I’m learning a lot and I think it’s getting me ready for the next level.

“I’m probably more of a run-stopper because my best attribute is my physical play,” Carrell noted. “My explosion off the ball is pretty good and that’s something that really helps me. This offseason, my big focus has been working on my strength and my overall Football I.Q. In high school, I mainly played offensive line, I was a center, so last year was really my first year of just concentrating on defensive line and I think it’s really going to help me now that I am just focusing on defense.”

Here is a link to the highlights for Carrell.



Brett Tonz – DL

Just the facts … Committed July 30th … Brett Tonz is a 6’3″, 265-pound defensive lineman from Peoria, Arizona Rivals bio  Scout bio

What others say about Tonz … Tonz is considered to be a two-star prospect by both Rivals and Scout, with Scout rating Tonz as the No. 4 defensive tackle prospect out of the state of Arizona. Tonz was listed as an honorable mention in the 24-7 Sports All Classes All-State team. This past season, for the 12-2 Centennial Coyotes, Tonz had 45 tackles (30 solo), with seven tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 21 quarterback hurries.

The Arizona Republic rated Tonz as the No. 65 player overall out of the state of Arizona this year, noting that Tonz is “still growing. Has gotten faster and stronger”.’s thoughts: “Tonz is a versatile lineman. He plays defensive end in Centennial’s three man front but has the frame to bulk up and be a defensive tackle. I also think that Tonz could be an excellent interior offensive lineman if the d-line doesn’t work out”.

Tonz had other offers from … Air Force (so not an academic risk, with a 3.3 GPA and a 17 on the ACT), San Diego, UC-Davis, and some other lower division schools.

In his own words … from Tonz says that his performance at CU’s remote camp in Redlands, California, this past summer was what earned him his scholarship. Despite not visiting Boulder in a few years, he was not nervous about committing in July before his senior year. “When I got the offer, I wanted to commit,” he says. “But I talked it over with my parents and my coaches and everyone approved. I am happy that I get to focus on my senior year.”

Here is a link to the senior year highlights form Brett Tonz.



Lyle Tuiloma – DL

Just the facts … Committed August 26th … Lyle Tuiloma is a 6’3″, 285-pound defensive lineman from Waianae, Hawai’i Rivals bio Scout bio

What others say about Tuiloma … Tuiloma is rated by both Rivals and Scout as a two-star prospect, but does have a great upside, as Tuiloma has bulked up considerably. He is now listed as being 285 pounds, while on the MaxPreps website, he reportedly played as a junior at linebacker at 240 pounds. His Golden Hawks team went 10-2 this past season, but was only ranked as the No. 23 team in the state of Hawai’i in 2014. Nanakuli is in an area with high poverty and has low graduation rates (On the MaxPreps website, Tuiloma was the only player on the roster with a profile).

Despite the drawbacks, writer Doug Kimmel believes CU has found a gem. “Tuiloma is a 6’2 1/2 285 pounds explosive athlete. He plays basketball, does track and field, and plays on both sides of the ball in football. Tuiloma is tough against the run, but also has some good pass rush moves and is able to get to the quarterback. He is raw on defense, due to the fact that he only really played on the offensive line before he worked with the Colorado coaching staff at the PIAA camp. The Buffalo coaching staff saw a defensive tackle in Tuiloma and once he made the switch, he dominated the competition.

“Once he is working out with a Colorado’s strength and conditioning staff, eating a proper diet, and being coached by a D1 staff, look out. He has a high ceiling and is just beginning to scratch the surface”.

Tuiloma had other offers from … no other school. Part of it was perhaps to his early commitment. Part of it may have had to do with his not being a stellar junior, and an “under the radar” recruit. Part of it may have had to do with the school not being a highly recruited area. We’ll see …

In his own words (as posted on his high school website) …  “My name is Lyle ieakopo keoni Tuiloma. I like to surf on my free time , I also like to play football. If you haven’t noticed I’m a really nice person. I like to help others if I know what I’m doing. As you can see my favorite pro surfer is Kelly Slater. This is my second plan in life. If I don’t make it to the professional football I’m going to be a surfer”.



Frank Umu – DL

Just the facts … Committed December 4th … Umu is a 6’5″, 275-pound defensive lineman from Heritage high in Littleton, Colorado. Rivals bio  Scout bio

What others say about Umu … Umu is rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals; a two-star prospect by Scout. Umu is rated as the No. 6 player out of the state of Colorado by Rivals. This past season, playing for the 7-4 Heritage Eagles, Umu had 81 tackles (55 solo), including 16 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hurries.

Umu had other offers from … Most notably, Colorado State. Umu committed to the Rams in August, but he de-committed a week before committing to the Buffs. The fact that Umu committed to Colorado the day CSU head coach Jim McElwain became the new head coach at Florida could have been coincidence, or the deciding factor. Umu did have offers from Eastern Washington and Weber State, and likely would have received other offers had he not committed so early.

Here is a link to Umu’s highlights from his junior and senior seasons.



Defensive End

Seniors: None

Juniors: Jimmie Gilbert … Tyler Henington … De’Jon Wilson … Aaron Howard … Nathaniel Robbins (JC)

Sophomores: Derek McCartney … Christian Shaver … Timothy Coleman … Markeis Reed … Leo Jackson (JC)

Red-shirt freshmen: Terran Hasselbach … Michael Mathewes


Nathaniel “Blake” Robbins – DL – Junior College Transfer

Just the facts … Committed October 1st … Robbins is a 6’5″, 260-pound defensive end, coming to Colorado from a junior college, Georgia Military College, in Milledgeville, Georgia  Rivals bio Scout bio

What others say about Robbins … Robbins is rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals; but only a two-star prospect by Scout. Robbins will have three years to play two at Colorado.

Out of high school, in Aiken, South Carolina, Robbins was a member of the Recruiting Class of 2013. With only one year of playing experience in high school, Robbins was an unrated prospect.  Still, in his senior year in Aiken, Robbins recorded 63 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and six sacks. His efforts earned him High School Sports Report Division II-AA All-State honors. Robbins was also a basketball standout for the Bulldogs. His only offer out of high school, though, was from Charleston Southern, which he accepted. Robbins did not become a Buccaneer, however, falling short on his ACT’s (if he had, he would have played against the Buffs in 2013 when the Buffs took on the Buccaneers in a replacement game). Instead, Robbins enrolled at Georgia Military College, and played as a true freshman in 2012, and as a true sophomore this fall.

Robbins started this fall at defensive end; he missed the better part of four games with a broken bone in his hand but did return to finish out the season. In limited action due to the injury, he was in on 15 tackles for loss, including five quarterback sacks, along with forcing a fumble in playing for GMC, a perennial JUCO powerhouse.

Robbins had other offers from … As noted, only Charleston Southern coming out of high school. As a junior college prospect, Robbins had offers from South Alabama, Southern Mississippi, and Tennessee State.

Here is a link to the video highlights for Robbins.



Leo Jackson III – DL – Junior College transfer

Just the facts … Signed March 22nd … Jackson is already a Buff, but may have been forgotten by many Buff fans, as he signed with Colorado in March, two months after Signing Day. Jackson is a defensive lineman prospect from Decatur, Georgia. Jackson is 6’4″, 260-pounds  Rivals bio

What others say about Jackson … Jackson was unrated out of high school as a member of the Recruiting Class of 2013, and, though a full-qualifier, did not sign with a four-year college out of high school. Instead, Jackson played the 2013 season at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California. This past season, for the 2-8 Owls (playing in eight of those games), Jackson had 24 tackles and two sacks.

Jackson will enroll in January, and will have four years left to play three.

Mike MacIntyre and Foothill College … This is not the first time Mike MacIntyre and Co. have looked to Foothill College for help. In 2011, MacIntyre picked up three players from Foothill College, including offensive lineman John Meyer, who went on to become a three-year starter for San Jose State. Over the past few seasons, players from Foothill College have been signed by a number of schools, including: Oregon State; BYU, Louisiana Tech; Hawai’i; Nevada; Boise State; Utah State; and Indiana.

Here is a link to Jackson’s Hudl highlights from this past season.

Here is a link to the YouTube highlights of Jackson in action in high school.



Inside Linebackers

Seniors: None

Juniors: Addison Gillam … Ryan Serverson … Travis Talianko

Sophomore: J.C. Genova

Red-shirt freshman: Rick Gamboa

Grant Watanabe – ILB – Grey-shirt from the Class of 2014

Just the facts … Committed May 29, 2013 … Watanabe is an inside linebacker prospect from San Antonio, Texas. Watanabe is 5’10”, 225-pounds. Rivals bio Scout bio

What others say about Watanabe … Watanabe was rated as a three-star linebacker by both Rivals and Scout as a member of the Recruiting Class of 2014. Watanabe was named the Defensive Player of the Year in San Antonio after he recorded 167 tackles, 27 for a loss, three sacks and four interceptions. He was also a junior All-American, first-team all-state, first-team all-city and unanimous first-team all-district selection. Grant’s older brother, Ethan Watanabe, is a tight end at Hawai’i. Watanabe has two uncles that played collegiately at BYU. And he currently has three relatives playing in the NFL: cousin Stanley Havili plays fullback for the Indianapolis Colts, uncle Tony Moeaki plays tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs and second cousin Paul Soliai plays defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins … impressive lineage.

Watanabe underwent foot surgery this past summer, prompting his grey-shirt status. Buff fans will recall that Watanabe suffered his foot injury in the state title game of his senior season. The injury was sustained early in the game, and Watanabe not only continued to play – he was named the defensive MVP of the game.

Watanabe had other offers from … only Utah, though there was considerable interest in Watanabe amongst the Texas schools, including Baylor, Texas-San Antonio and SMU.

In his own words … “I play with passion,” Watanabe told “To play linebacker you have to have passion, intensity, and football smarts”.


Jay Hockaday – LB

Committed December 18th … Hockaday is a 6’3″, 215-pound linebacker from Nashville, Tennessee. Rivals bio  Scout bio

What others say about Hockaday … Hockaday is rated as a two-star prospect by Rivals, and an unrated prospect by Scout. One recruiting entity which did like Hockaday was 247Sports, which had Hockaday as a three-star player, the No. 33 inside linebacker in the nation. Hockaday reported a personal best of 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, to go along with a 34″ vertical, and 275 pounds in the bench press. This past season, Hockaday helped lead the Christ Presbyterian Academy to a 15-0 record (the Lions were rated by MaxPreps as the No. 10 team in the state of Tennessee in 2014). He played some quarterback – only two passes all season, but 111 carries for 887 yards and 19 touchdowns. On defense, Hockaday had 95 tackles (79 solo), with three sacks and four tackles for loss.

Hockaday had other offers from … Navy (so we know he won’t be an academic risk), Furman, and Samford, with interest from schools like Missouri, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt.

Here is a link to the highlights from Hockaday’s senior year.



Outside Linebackers

Senior: Hunter Shaw

Juniors: Kenneth Olugbode … Deaysean Rippy … Travis Talianko

Sophomores: none

Red-shirt freshman: Lance Cottrell


N.J. Falo – OLB

Just the facts … Committed January 23rd … Falo is 6’2″, 225-pound linebacker prospect from Sacramento, California  Rivals bio  Scout bio

What others say about Falo … Falo is rated as a three-star prospect by both Rivals and Scout. Rivals has Falo listed as the No. 80 player out of the state of California for the Class of 2015, and the No. 51 outside linebacker in the nation. Scout sees Falo as the No. 10 outside linebacker in the state of California, the No. 13 outside linebacker in the west, and the No. 82 outside linebacker nationally.

This past season, Falo had 50 tackles (32 solo) for the 12-2 Inderkum Tigers. Falo also had four sacks, an interception, and caused five fumbles. Falo also played some tight end, with three receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.

In 2013, as a junior, Falo had 31 tackles (21 solo) as the Tigers went 10-3. As a tight end he had three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. “He didn’t have a ton of stats”, Inderkum head coach Terry Stark told the Daily Camera of Falo’s junior season. “What he was for us was a very physical, blocking tight end … had a few catches, and a real physical guy playing up against the tight end on the other side”.

At the Nike Football Training Camp last summer, Falo made the All-Underclass team, with having this to say about Falo: “Falo could play outside linebacker or defensive end and worked out with the  defensive lineman and was one of the more impressive looking players.  Has  good size and quickness and a high football IQ”.

Falo had other offers from … Eastern Washington, Cal Poly, and Northern Colorado, though last summer Falo claimed he had interest from UCLA, Michigan, and USC. The first commit of the CU Recruiting Class of 2015, Falo would likely have received more offers had he not been committed to CU since last January.

In his own words … “I’ve known them (coach Mike MacIntyre, along with assistant coaches Klayton Adams and Brian Lindgren) ever since my brother’s senior year, so 2011. For me it means a lot (to commit). Mainly the staff made me want to make the decision,” Falo told the Daily Camera. “I know what they’ve done with their football squad and I’ve seen what they’ve done with people individually, as in, speaking of my brother”. Falo’s brother is Nathan Falo, a three-star offensive guard from the Recruiting Class of 2011. Nathan had offers from schools like Colorado State, Washington State, and Oregon State, but chose to stay close to home with San Jose State and Mike MacIntyre. “I talked to (Nathan) the night before committing”, said N.J. Falo. “He’s very excited for me, he’s proud of me. He knows I’m gonna do big things. He knows they’re the right staff for me and he knows they’ll take care of me. Obviously he’s been through it, he knows what it is.”

Here is a link to Falo’s senior year highlights.




Senior: Kenneth Crawley

Juniors: John Walker … Ahkello Witherspoon … Yuri Wright

Sophomores: none

Red-shirt freshman: Jaisen Sanchez

Nick Fisher – DB

Just the facts … Committed September 21st … Fisher is a 6’1″, 185-pound athlete from Temecula, California Rivals bio  Scout bio

What others say about Fisher … Fisher is listed as a three-star athlete by Rivals, and a three-star cornerback by Scout. According to Scout, Fisher is the 27th-best cornerback out of the state of California this year, the No. 30 cornerback in the west, and the No. 153 cornerback nationally.

This past fall, Fisher had 44 tackles (34 solo), with three interceptions and a tackle for loss. On offense, Fisher had 100 carries for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns for the 10-3 Great Oak Wolfpack.

As a junior, Fisher had 152 carries for 1,266 yards and 18 touchdowns. On defense, Fisher had 40 tackles and three interceptions. Fisher also runs track, with a 10.95 in the 100 meters. In addition, Fisher was a member of the 4 x 100 relay team that was the No.1 seed at the California state meet.

Fisher had other offers from … Wyoming, New Mexico State, as well as Northern Arizona and Sacramento State from the Big Sky Conference. Arizona State and Washington from the Pac-12 had interest in Fisher, but Fisher committed early and remained firm.

Here is a link to Fisher’s senior year highlights.




Senior: Marques Mosley … Jered Bell (assuming he is granted a sixth year of eligibility)

Juniors: Tedric Thompson … Chidobe Awuzie … Afolabi Laguda (JC)

Sophomores: Evan White … Ryan Moeller

Red-shirt freshmen: none


Afolabi Laguda – DB – Junior College transfer

Just the facts … Committed December 15th … Laguda is a 6’2″, 200-pound defensive back coming to CU from Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kansas. Laguda reportedly a runs a 4.5 in the 40. Rivals bio  Scout bio

What others say about Laguda … Laguda is a two-star prospect according to Scout, but was unrated by Rivals at the time of his commitment. Laguda was a member of the Recruiting Class of 2013, playing for Brookwood high in Snellville, Georgia, and will have three years to play two. Laguda played safety for Butler County C.C. the past two seasons, but his position at CU is yet to be determined.

Laguda had other offers from … Utah State, North Dakota, Eastern Michigan and Georgia State, with interest from California, Washington, and Illinois.

In his own words … “Colorado talks to me everyday,” Laguda told the week before his commitment. “Coach MacIntyre, the head coach, calls me weekly. My recruiting coordinator is Coach Walters and we talk every day. If we don’t, something is wrong. We talk all the time and they’ve really showed big interest in me.”

“They’re a team on the rise,” Laguda added. “I know they used to be a powerhouse in the 1990’s. Coach MacIntyre is going to do great things with that program.”

Here is a link to Laguda’s video highlights.



Isaiah Oliver – DB

Just the facts … Committed December 9th … Oliver is a 6’0″, 175-pound defensive back from Phoenix, Arizona. Oliver runs a reported 4.55 in the 40. Rivals bio  Scout bio

What others say about Oliver … Oliver is rated as a three-star prospect by Rivals, but a two-star player by Scout. Rivals considers Oliver to be the No. 16 player overall out of the state of Arizona this season. Oliver was a major factor in helping Brophy Prep to a 10-4 record this season, starring on both sides of the ball. On offense, Oliver had 50 receptions for 1,352 yards and 12 touchdowns, while on defense he posted 60 tackles and seven interceptions … Oliver had four carries on the season, going for 64 yards and two more touchdowns … He also had – wait for it – five blocked kicks! … While recruited as a defensive back, it’s worthy of note that Oliver broke the school record for all-time receiving record at Brophy Prep, a Phoenix powerhouse … 247Sports rates Oliver as its No. 29 player out of the state of Arizona, and the No. 162 “athlete” this year.

Oliver had other offers from … New Mexico.

Here is a link to highlights from Oliver’s senior season.




One Reply to “The CU Class of ’15 – Defense”

  1. I can’t see how it isn’t best that Isaiah Oliver projects as a CB at CU. We have a huge need for more talent with only 5 scholarship players at CB now, 4 of which are upperclassmen. His size and skill set and athleticism seem like a natural fit for corner, rather than safety.

    Other than that, I can’t remember when CU has had such a thin depth chart at all of the LB positions. We can’t afford injuries there and we still need 2-3 guys to step up and contribute big time. After Gillam and Olugbode there is just question mark after question mark. Falo really could be the gem of the recruiting class if he can be ready to play his freshman year.

    Of course, there is always the possibility of a re-alignment on the defensive side of the ball with a new coordinator; like moving Gilbert to OLB in a “Von Miller” role.

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