Undeniably, their is but one position that is on every CU fan's mind who follows recruiting: wide receiver. It is those fans who have seen the past couple years of Buff football and realized one of the major things that separated them from the rest of the Big 12 was a lack of play makers in a key offensive position. Whether it was drops, inconsistent play or just the inability to make one man miss and go the distance, Colorado fans are craving big name receivers who can be a vocal point of the offense. Right now, Dan Hawkins and Co. have four scholarship wide receivers and six non-scholarship wide receivers. Four. Heck, even current scholarship player, Scotty McKnight, was a former walk-on. None of the six non-scholarship players produced a reception last year. Right now, Colorado's scholarship wide receiving corp consists of McKnight, Josh Smith, Markques Simas and Chance Blackmon. McKnight has been the most consistent of the receivers over the past couple of years but he isn't the deep threat or the shifty athlete that turn the five yard pass into the 60 yard touchdown. Josh Smith is full of talent but injuries and dedication to the game have come into question. Talk about full of talent and size, Markques Simas has had his fair share of hype but has also disappointed in the classroom. Simas and Smith are still young but need to improve in areas to head in the direction of being a prolific receiver. Blackmon, a redshirt last year, needed to add about 20 pounds to be successful at the next level. If you are a recruit, you think that list would scream early playing time and it should. Who knows about any of these guys excluding McKnight, right?
Well, what gives? Why aren't the Buffs having to beat away prospects? Instead the Buffs are trying to keep wide receiver commitments. Currently, WR Jarrod Darden from Texas, is the only SOLID verbal commit for the Buffs. Your guess is as good as mine as to why wide receivers are a little weary of coming to Boulder but the instability at quarterback, a lack of recent history with strong receiving results and the inability to get consistent admission of junior college talent are all credible reasons as to why the Buffs are in the spot they are in right now. That spot is waiting, hoping and praying for a few prospects to call their number. That leaves us fanatics in a nervous position as well.
It is probably safe to say that the success of this class will lie in the success of retaining and adding wide receiving talent.
It is also probably safe to say that it is a scary proposition that the Buffs are relying on newcomers to be a big part of the 2009 season. How we ended up with only four scholarship receivers at this point is very scary especially when those receivers aren't that proven.
The Buffs have done a commendable job getting their names in the hat for some strong receiver prospects. Right now, Dan Hawkins has his name in the hat on six different kids, all of which will announce their decision tomorrow. Colorado would happily take as many as four of these players below:
4* WR Andre Simmons - 6'3" 210 pounds 4.45 forty - Junior College - Andre Simmons committed to Colorado back in November but Buff fans have always worried about his ability to qualify. That worry was validated by Simmons visiting Kansas State last weekend. Kansas State now leads for Simmons and I feel comfortable enough that Bill Snyder, the JUCO king himself, will get Andre. I wonder if Kansas State should just become a Junior College already. They are moving that way. Simmons would be the guy you could tab as the most ready to play from day 1 of all the CU prospects...too bad he looks to be a goner.
WR Markish Jones - 6'2" 200 pounds - Junior College - If you look at this list of 2007 H.S. talents on rivals, you will see Markques Simas at #20 on the list of best receivers in the nation. Markish Jones was at #28. He was supposed to go to Clemson a couple of years ago but he failed to qualify. He has verbally committed to California but he is still on the Buffs radar. I feel better about Jones becoming a Buff more than I do about Simmons. My guess is that Jones will wait and see what Blake, Ussery and Jackson do. He was thought to be the Buffs silent commit.
WR Jewel Hardy - 6'5" 205 pounds - Junior College - He was a teammate of Jones in junior college and visited with Jones in January. He would be a full qualifier as the only reason he is at a junior college is because he took his SAT test too late (don't ask how that happens, it just did). He is probably a plan B guy in case Blake, Ussery and Jackson go elsewhere but with his size and his qualifying ability, he would be a nice addition to the thin WR corp.
3* WR Terdema Ussery - 6'4" 202 pounds - High School - I would be shocked if Ussery isn't a Buff. I have a connection who covers Stanford recruiting and he says Stanford has backed off Ussery a little bit and that he is pretty confident Colorado will get him. He is the most solid of the six possible names you will hear coming to Boulder next year. Terdema is a very smart kid and it shows on the football field. He isn't a burner but runs routes well and has good hands. Here is an earlier write up from The Ralphie Report about Ussery's skills.
4* WR Diante Jackson - 6'4" 202 pounds 4.5 forty- High School - It is now down to CU, Oregon and Arizona State. Jackson's crazy recruitment has been well chronicled here on the Ralphie Report ever since we interviewed him and broke his commitment to the Buffs. He is a great kid who is clearly struggling with his decision. He committed to Colorado on New Year's Day after decommitting from Oregon. Ever since that day, rumor had it that family pressure was pushing him back to Oregon, enough so that his family wouldn't sign the letter of intent. He will probably be the player most watched by Buff fans tomorrow, desperately awaiting his decision. Who knows on Diante, but as for all the other high school kids tomorrow, best of luck to them in whatever school they choose. I think Diante will be a Buff come mid-day tomorrow. This might go until the day he steps on a campus. Here is more information on Diante Jackson from an earlier Ralphie Report write up.
4* WR Emory Blake - 6'1" 194 pounds 4.6 forty - High School - Son of former NFL quarterback, Jeff Blake, Emory's recruiting has also been interesting. A couple weeks ago, he sent Buff fans into a frenzy by decommitting from Texas Tech (committed to Tech after he watched Crabtree's catch that beat the Longhorns) and putting Colorado back in the race. Since then, Gene Chizik and Auburn have entered the battle and it is now gotten to a point where every school feels confident that they will get Blake. I have a feeling that he may go back to Texas Tech. Here is more info on Blake from an earlier post.
It is going to be interesting. All of these guys are capable of being big time play makers for the Buffs but all of them could end up not being Buffs. Each of them have been extremely quiet during the process. Wide receiver Coach Kiesau has been quoted as having developed great relationships with all of these receivers, hopefully that wins out tomorrow.
Stay tuned tomorrow. We will be anxiously waiting like you!