Quarterback Lottery

Prior to Saturday, I hadn’t bought a lottery ticket in over 20 years. But, when the payoff is over $900 million, you can’t help but join in on the fun.

I doubt I will beat the 280 million-to-one odds Saturday night, and that’s a shame.

It would have been a good thing for the Buff Nation had I won the $900 million – or $500 million or so after taxes.

For starters, there would have been no reason for further speculation as to the naming rights for Folsom Field.

What else? Well, the Buffs’ perennial national championship contending skiing and cross-country teams would all be traveling first class to their events, and there might even be the resurrection of a sport or two which were placed on the chopping block back in 1979.

But I digress …

The Buffs did – perhaps – win a lottery of sorts this week, when Tennessee quarterback Sheriron Jones announced that he is transferring to Colorado.

Jones was a member of the Recruiting Class of 2015, and was not lacking for accolades. At Rancho Verde high school in Moreno Valley, California, Jones threw for over 2,000 and 24 touchdowns, earning consensus four-star rankings from all of the national services. Jones was marked as one of the top ten dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation by Rivals, Scout, ESPN, 247 Sports – pretty much everybody.

Jones sat out this past season as a true freshman, and will have to sit out the 2016 season as a transfer. He will, though, have three years of eligibility remaining come the start of the 2017 campaign.

Have the Buffs finally won the lottery? Have the win-starved Buff fans finally got a quarterback who can lead the team not only to a bowl game, but contend for titles in the Pac-12?

If history is any guide, we shouldn’t get our hopes up.

Jones will come to Boulder as one of the most highly-rated quarterback in some time, but there have been plenty of other candidates who seemed like the real deal.

At least they seemed that way until the season started.

Now, I will be the first to acknowledge that one player does not a team make, and that even the best quarterbacks will struggle without weapons to work with on offense, and a defense which can keep the game close.

It is also true, however, that a great quarterback can lift up a program, and make a team better than it should be.

And the Buffs are due – past due – to win the quarterback lottery.

Let’s take a look back at some of the names which were potential stars for the Buffs …

Players who have started games at quarterback for Colorado since 2006:

Bernard Jackson … four-star recruit – Class of 2003 … Record as a starter: 2-9

Cody Hawkins … three-star recruit – Class of 2006 … Record as a starter: 11-17

Tyler Hansen … three-star recruit – Class of 2008 … Record as a starter: 6-15

Nick Hirschman – three-star recruit – Class of 2010 … Record as a starter: 0-3

Jordan Webb – three-star recruit – Class of 2009 (Kansas) … Record as a starter: 1-8

Connor Wood – four-star recruit – Class of 2010 (Texas) … Record as a starter: 2-4

Sefo Liufau – three-star recruit – Class of 2013 … Record as a starter: 8-21

Jordan Gehrke – unrated recruit – Class of 2011 (Scottsdale Community College) … Record as a starter: 0-1

Cade Apsay – three-star recruit – Class of 2014 … Record as a starter: 0-2

… Not a lot of Hall of Famers on that list (though Hawkins and Liufau have re-written the CU record books).

And that list, of course, only includes the quarterbacks who were on the field as starters for the Buffs. Here is a short recitation of some of the names who have been recruited by CU who never were on the field for the first snap of the game:

Mack Brown … Patrick Devenny … Matt Ballenger … Nick Nelson … Clark Evans … Josh Moten … Brent Burnette … Stevie Jo Dorman … Shane Dillon … (and now, 2015 recruit Steven Montez and 2016 commit Sam Noyer).

Each year, we thought that the new quarterback coming in would be the answer.

Each year, we were hopeful that high school highlights would somehow translate into collegiate success.

Each year, we have been hoping that it was CU’s turn to win the quarterback lottery.

Each year … another losing season.

The odds, though, are stacked against teams with losing records. It’s easier to come up with a “franchise quarterback” when you have four- and five-star recruits coming in every year.

In the past five seasons, for instance, USC has signed one three-star, three four-star, and one five-star quarterback.

Eleven months ago, Tennessee signed not one, not two, but three four-star quarterbacks … and have a commitment from another four-star quarterback for Signing Day, 2016.

Yes, the odds of winning the quarterback lottery is exponentially better when you have more cards to play.

In Tennessee’s case, it was an embarrassment of riches which led to the Buffs getting a second chance at picking up a winning lottery ticket.

Jones would have been forgiven for looking at the Tennessee depth chart, and looking for a better situation. Jones’ high school coach, Pete Duffy, however, insists that wasn’t behind the decision to transfer. “He knew what the situation was with (starting quarterback Josh) Dobbs, so that didn’t affect anything,” Duffy told the Daily Camera. “He just wanted to be closer. Everything was good. He had a good time there. He had a good time. He had good support there. He just wanted to go in another direction.”

CU currently has five quarterbacks on the roster, all of which are expected to return this season: seniors Sefo Liufau, Jordan Gehrke, junior walk-on T.J. Patterson, sophomore Cade Apsay and redshirt freshman Steven Montez.

And that doesn’t even count Class of 2016 recruit Sam Noyer, who is expected to sign with the Buffs in February.

So there is no guarantee Jones will ever get on the field, much less be the Buffs’ savior.

“Basically I’m just hoping I have an opportunity to compete for a job,” Jones said. “I have to sit out a year and compete for the job next year. I just hope I can get an opportunity to play down there.”

Jones’ former coach, Pete Duffy, though, sounds confident. “If I were the guys that are there, I would probably be a little nervous,” said Duffy. “Jones is a legitimate Elite 11 guy that’s got all of the tools … He’s going to be very good. He’s the real deal.”

CU fans have been looking for the “real deal” for over a decade.

Who else remembers being excited about four-star recruit Connor Wood coming to Boulder? Or the lineage of Stevie Joe Dorman?

More recently, we’ve been excited about the high school stats of Cade Apsay, Steven Montez and Sam Noyer.

It’s always the next guy who will finally lead the Buffs to a break-through.

Maybe, just maybe, the Buffs won the lottery this week.

Perhaps not a lottery win of the $900 million variety … but a lottery win just the same.





8 Replies to “Quarterback Lottery”

    1. Thanks Bufftrax. I read “CU at the Game” because it has high information content per number of words written. I like the comments here because they are usually well thought out, not obvious trolls, and very seldom attack players directly. It feels like I’m listening/talking to the guys I go to the games with. Stuart sets the bar high here and I like it.

  1. The end of that post got cut off: “….who want to earn a ring, rather than rely on the guys around the to bring them a ring.”

  2. Some, uh, underpowered(?) and under-resourced coaches in those lean years. (Shout out to Bernard – Loved seeing those knobby Bernard Jackson knees and the hope of an exciting play when he was behind center, as opposed to the drop back, look for McKnight or Speedy, then crumple in a heap for another 3 and out with Hawkins ) But the right coach, QB and a few supporting players can make a real difference… A few more key players each year, and all of a sudden we’ve got a very competitive team where good players can come play, be recognized and win. McIntyre is still the right guy, short of a 2 win season. Our program is improving, and we have some good players. Let’s hope CU pays to keep Leavitt as long as he can be paid to stay, and that Darrin more than fills the shoes he is stepping into. Without two-deep four 4 & 5 star guys, we need some tough guys.


  3. I hope the Buffs did win the lottery with Jones. I hope this pickup has something to do with Chiaverini coming in here, seeing what the issues are, and then doing something about it. However, I really hope it’s not a case of too little too late. Chances are good that McIntyre is going to have to win 6 next year or he won’t even be around to see Jones play. Next year, the Buffs are going to have to somehow hit the lottery again with big improvements at QB and O-line to get to 6 wins.

  4. I’m glad someone referenced the “star” system and it’s relationship to success.It maybe a flawed rating system (stars) but populating any collage sport with recruits 3 stars or less when compared to players 4 stars and above equals exactly what you’d expect.
    It’s statistical.The probability of having success with any team is more likely the greater the number of highly recruited players.Can you have a good team with lesser rated players??


    It’s just less likely.

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