Recruiting under the Microscope

Recruiting is not an exact science.

If all we needed to predict the future success of 17-year old high school prodigies were their star ratings and times in the 40-yard dash, Marcus Houston and Darrell Scott would be in the books as CU’s second and third Heisman trophy winners, not the 94th (Houston) and 108th (Scott) leading rushers in CU history.

Since recruiting is such a roll of the dice, success in college football is subject to the whims, character, work ethic and the general ability to avoid injury of their recruits. In order to get ahead, coaching staffs have to take chances on players who are academic risks, players who may not be good fits in the locker room, and players who have character issues.

Phillip Lindsay was such a risk. Injured during his senior year in high school, the undersized running back watched as team after team lost interest in his recruitment. Colorado stuck with its scholarship offer, though, and was rewarded handsomely for taking the chance.

This offseason, Coach Prime and his coaching staff have significantly upgraded the Colorado roster. After watching CU sign mediocre (at best) recruiting Classes year after year, the new staff quickly assembled a Top 25 Recruiting Class, with the Transfer Portal Class being ranked No. 1 in the nation. The numbers were dizzying:

  • The highest rated Recruiting Class by a new head coach in CU history (previous best: Dan Hawkins, 2006 – No. 47)
  • Two five-star recruits … equaling the total of five-star recruits signed by Colorado in the past quarter century. The nine total blue-chip recruits (four- and five-star prospects) was the highest number of blue-chip signees in a Class in school history
  • CU signed the most geographically diverse Class in school history, with recruits coming to CU from 16 states and two foreign countries

In all, Colorado has (to date) signed 48 newcomers, over half of the 85 scholarship players teams are allowed to have on their roster for the start of Fall Camp.

Buff fans are excited about the future, as there has been, by any objective measure, an improvement to the roster.

But with that many new faces, there are bound to be issues. Some of the new players may be injured between now and the September 2nd opener; some may fall victim to academic issues …

… And some may run afoul of the law.

Colorado is a still a week away from taking to the practice field for the first time in the Deion Sanders era, and yet has already had two potential future Buffs be placed in position of never donning the black-and-gold.

One of the first commitments CU received from the Recruiting Class of 2024 came from defensive lineman Omar White. The four-star standout from Leesburg, Georgia, is ranked as the No. 12 defensive tackle in the nation. White has offers from over two dozen Power Five conference schools, including the likes of Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, Michigan, Clemson and Oklahoma.

According to the Valdosta Daily Times, however, on March 3rd, detectives from the Valdosta Police Department obtained arrest warrants on White for felony aggravated assault, felony aggravated battery, and felony possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

The charges were filed for Omar White’s alleged connection to two February 26th shootings, which saw one 16-year-old and two 17-year-olds rushed to South Georgia Medical center for treatment of their wounds. Fortunately, all three boys have been treated for their injuries and have been released from the hospital.

This will be an interesting early test of Coach Prime’s coaching ethics, and as a result, will be a situation for all fans of the Buffs to monitor as it develops.

And it’s not as if Coach Prime didn’t place a bullseye on his chest for critics to take shots at.

Throughout the early stages of his hiring, Coach Prime consistently underlined his desire to find players with strong character who would bring a positive presence to the Boulder campus.

“These young men are going to be on campus respectful and considerate and kind, opening doors for you and making sure everything is copacetic,” Prime said during his introductory press conference. “And they’re gonna say ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’, ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no ma’am’ or they’re going to have to deal with me. That’s just the way I father, that’s the way I parent, that’s the way I coach.”

Another early test involves a preferred walk-on Deuce Roberson. A wide receiver from Snow College who went to high school in Colorado, has been embroiled in a controversy dating back four years.

On January 14th, a University of Colorado Boulder student emailed the Office of the Dean of Students about sexual assault allegations against Roberson.

In the email, the student alleged Roberson raped another student during their time at Palmer Ridge High School in Monument, Colorado.

“I have reason to believe he could be a potential threat to the safety of other Boulder students, especially regarding women,” she wrote.

Roberson met with officials from the athletic department’s compliance office days after a CU Boulder freshman published a petition calling for his expulsion. The office is responsible for ensuring student-athletes adhere to NCAA, Pac-12 and university rules.

In an email statement, Steve Hurlbert, the director of communications for the university, said Roberson has been “away” from the team since Feb. 23rd.

“While we cannot discuss specific cases due to privacy laws, we take all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously, and those found responsible are held accountable,” Hurlbert said.

Now, there is certainly something to be said about both of these players being considered innocent until proven guilty. There have been reports about the Omar White involvement in the shootings in Florida being overstated, and the Roberson accusations had previously been investigated with no charges brought. It may prove than either or both of these players may be exonerated, and still may find their way to the CU locker room.

The issue for Coach Prime, though, is that he has set a very high bar.

“If there’s any dysfunction…with your girlfriend, fiancée, whoever, with any abuse, that’s it. It’s over”, Coach Prime told the team. If that’s the standard, it seems difficult to believe that Deuce Roberson will ever become a Buff.

With extra attention comes extra scrutiny.

Everything Coach Prime does, and everything Coach Prime says, is recorded and dissected. By extension, everything Coach Prime’s coaches and players do and say will be reviewed and critiqued.

It has to be accepted that there are those out there who would like nothing more than to see Coach Prime fail in Boulder … and not all of those are fans of CU’s rivals.

Omar White and Deuce Roberson are not the first CU players to run afoul with the law, and they will not be the last. If they are proven guilty, there will be repercussions. But even if they are innocent, they still may be so tarnished that their collegiate football careers will be in jeopardy.

There will be 85 scholarship players and around 30 walk-ons affiliated with the CU program every year. That’s a significant number of young men to look after … and not all of them will make good choices.

In years past, there have been CU players who have had issues outside the classroom. Buff fans were aware of the transgressions, but CU’s issues rarely made national news.

That won’t be the case with Coach Prime. Every transgression will be put under the microscope.

Coach Prime, a celebrity for over three decades, is used to the scrutiny.

Buff fans, though, will have to get used to it …


2 Replies to “Recruiting under the Microscope”

  1. The good news for White is that he’s only a junior in high school. It will be interesting to watch the legal part work itself out. Don’t know if he was the instigator or if we was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people. For now, I hope the young man realizes that choices he makes in life matter. By right, we have to assume innocence until proven otherwise.

    As for Roberson, I’m glad CU and Coach Prime separated him until fully investigated. Were there ever charges against him? I know it can be hard for young women to accuse a football star from your high school of criminal activity. I also hope that the school did not brush this under the rug for the sake of football. If this is 4 years old now, that means Roberson was only 15 years old then. That means he had at least two more years of playing football in high school. Where was the school administration in all this?

    It’s going to be interesting from a legal perspective to watch these play out. Any victims to these young men deserve to be heard. It’s not just the lives of the football players that have been impacted.

    Unfortunately we live in a society where people lie. A lot. Politicians lie. Newscasters lie. Lots of people in positions of authority lie and cheat and steal. It’s a difficult world to grow up in for young people these days. We have to remember that just because someone says something does not make it true. I wish life was that simple and pure, but it just ain’t so

    Mark/ boulderdevil

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