The Colorado Buffaloes got a big commit this past weekend in Colorado prep star Nick Kasa. Kasa isn't just any other commit, he is home grown and important to the perception of state of CU football. Here are five reasons why Buff fans should be even more excited about this pick up and what it means to the program:
1) Lock It Up
On that December day in 2005 when Dan Hawkins took the job, he promised to fulfill a thing that pissed Buff fans off year in and year out; keep the top kids from leaving the state of Colorado. Whether it was Bo Scaife, Zach Lattimer, LenDale White, Casey Studdard, Jeff Byers, Calais Campbell or Jon Cooper, Buff fans were tired of seeing these prep stars leave the state to go onto have successful college and in many cases, pro careers. Yes, Colorado is not a huge hot bed for high school talent but the list above has proven to be top grade talent at the next level.
Further, the state of Colorado loves its football and are a pretty knowledgeable fan base when it comes down to it. They follow high school ball pretty adamantly and like to see home grown boys wear the black and gold. Keeping kids in state like Nick Kasa, Ryan Miller, Bryce Givens, Jack Harris and Jon Major brings Colorado closer to the community and plants it's roots into state. The Kasa signing unites the state that "our boy will take down those Huskers."
2) Hard Work Has Paid Off When Recruiting In-State Kids and People Have Taken Notice
Again, what Hawkins has done in recruiting has been amazing, especially the in-state kids. Since the scandal and the bad press that came out of the Gary Barnett era, Hawkins has had to mend the fence around the state. Many people were ashamed of the program during that time and many would have liked the school to not be in their state. The news obviously hit here (Colorado) much harder than it did elsewhere. Say what you will about his game day coaching but his grass roots efforts to connect with the community by speaking at high schools across the state and holding public meetings to discuss the University is becoming noticed, which is evident by convincing the student-athletes above and their families that CU is not out of control like it was conveyed to be.
3) Publicly, Kasa is a Big Name and Big Names Like to Join Big Names
Generating a buzz is always a good thing. Like Darrell Scott, Nick Kasa is well known in recruiting circles. Next year's in-state class will take notice. Many scouting experts on scout.com and rivals.com have Kasa ranked in the top 25 of players in the 2009 class and after reading press clippings of the Army practice highlights, Kasa permanently solidified himself as a top 100 player in the nation. Guys like Danny Spond and Austin Hinder from Colorado who will be in the 2010 class will have to take note of what Kasa and Hawkins did this weekend. It is important that the Buffs continue to be able to recruit others with names like Scott, Kasa, Miller, Major, etc. This year's class was lacking that and now it is found.
4) Hawkins' Pitch is Fresh and Working
It is clear right now that this class will not be of last year's caliber. What the coaching staff did last year was miraculous. They sold these players based on a program that was perceived to be on the "upswing." That story only works once.
Okay, I wasn't entirely wrong. It will be hard to top last year's class even with Hawkins' and Co.'s magic this weekend but one thing became clear: even without particularly great results on the field, Hawkins story and sales pitch has not run dry. I was very worried that CU hit it out of the park last recruiting season and this football season, they regressed compared to expections...pick your excuse for why that happened. Due to the 5 - 7 season, public perception was most recruits, high school coaches and families wanted to see what would become of Hawkins results in 2009 and 2010 before we would see a boom in recruiting. Until two days ago, that perception was looking like reality. I should have known better. The pitch is still powerful.
5) Need Versus Wholesale
The Buffs have officially entered a phase in their program where they have the ability to address need and upgrade. So many things were wrong with the program the past three years that the Buffs needed everything. With the additions of Kasa, Nuckols, Jackson, Simmons, Bonsu and Evans, the Buffs are operating on a strict schedule of addressing needs with big time players. This is good news because now Hawkins is molding the program. The tools are in place in the secondary, at linebacker, on offensive line and at running back to make the push now. With Kasa, now it can be said that we are upgrading.
There is still a lot of work to do. The Buffs still need to fill a class with strong talent but we can all be satisfied that major needs are being addressed. Now it is time to transition the recruiting success to on-the-field success. If Hawkins and Co. can have a great off-season of strength and conditioning, limit the off-the field and academic problems, and continue to develop the youth of this program, 2009 and 2010 should be fun. 2010 looks to be amazing.
Keep your fingers crossed that DJack, Kasa and Nuckols stick and that Simmons qualifies.