A few years ago it was the anticipation of RB Darrell Scott's national signing day decision. Last year, the Buffs were in the hunt for WR Diante Jackson (Oregon), WR Emory Blake (Auburn) and S Byron Moore (USC) before losing out in some wild recruitments. While none of those players are currently on the current Colorado squad, their is something about having your name in the ring for some big time prospects that gets the juices flowing about the future of Colorado football.
In 2010, no one really wants to discuss the future of Colorado football as many are left wondering if the administration really cares about athletics at Colorado. That's another topic but after 3 - 9, let's be honest with ourselves, we all knew 2010's recruiting class wouldn't have the hype of year's past. No one has to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. I could sugar coat this class but everyone loves rankings and it is easy to go on rivals.com and see that Colorado ranks 57th in their NCAA team rankings for this cycle. You then see the company Colorado shares: Colorado State is ahead of the Buffs at 56th. Colorado State has recruited the state of Florida well and although they are not highly rated Florida kids, they are still playing in a fertile recruiting area. In 2008, the Buffs ranked 15th in recruiting, last year they came in at 48th. But if you re-evaluated those classes, took away Darrell Scott, Ed Nuckols and Lynn Katoa after they left the program, those rankings are probably inflated.
You can go in circles talking about star rankings and potential but one thing is for sure, coaching is the true difference maker in college football. You can look at Mike Riley and his Oregon State teams to see that he doesn't have the recruiting rankings, but he has some pretty impressive wins the past few years. You can look at Nebraska and in two years, Bo Pelini has turned them into a contender. Coaching rules and there is no debate.
That being said, I do like some of the players in this recruiting class and their are a few noteworthy decisions that Buff fans should stay tuned for.
Any Big Time Decisions Out There?
First of all, you never know in recruiting. Dan Hawkins might get a nice rated recruit on signing day. Who knows? But as of right now, there are two battles worth your attention and both play quarterback but may better be suited for other positions at the college level.
Danny Spond 4* - QB/Ath - Columbine High School (Colorado)
Spond, a 6'2" 220 pound athlete from Colorado, originally committed to Dan Hawkins very early in the process but citing Colorado's poor 2009 season, he re-opened his commitment. He has courted schools like Stanford, TCU and Notre Dame and has named his final two - the Buffs and the Irish. I still stand by these words when I wrote them last April when he committed to Colorado:
QB Austin Hinder might be ranked the top prospect from Colorado in 2010, I think Danny Spond is the top football player. Watch his highlight reel and words like versatility, athleticism, nose for the ball, playmaker and toughness come to mind. Last week at the spring scrimmage, I sat right behind Spond and many of my Stanford recruiting sources who were at the game pretty much put him in Cardinal red next year. Hawkins once again reeled him in. Those same sources are also the first people to say that having talked to Spond, he is one of the nicest guys they have interviewed. He is smart (3.99 GPA) and he is a football player, something that is always a welcome.
In the last month, Cal commit Austin Hinder has dropped to a 3* after suspect performances in the most recent All Star games while Danny Spond is currently ranked second in the Colorado state rankings behind Grandview DE Chris Martin, who transferred into the state last spring for his senior season.
Spond has stated that he is open for a position change and ultimately, he will probably end up as a safety or linebacker, certainly two positions of need when you look at the future depth charts of the Buffs. Colorado is already pretty slim at safety with Anthony Perkins and Ray Polk the only two safeties most fans feel comfortable with. The past two years, starters Ben Burney, Ryan Walters and Daniel Dykes have all graduated meaning the position has had a lot of turnover. He is an intelligent football player and I think he would make a great safety. If he isn't fast enough, then linebacker would also be a fit as the kid is not afraid of contact. Who knows, he may stick at quarterback as well but you look at the depth chart for the position and Spond's talent might be better utilized some place else.
Spond is visiting South Bend this weekend and it will certainly be a tough choice to turn down. Of course, Notre Dame hasn't been as successful as they should but they will probably sell Spond on new coach Brian Kelly while Danny has to look at Danny Hawkins and wonder if the past four years will change in the next four years he would be at Colorado. Good news for Buff fans: 20 degrees with 20 mile per hour winds in South Bend making it feel like 6 degrees. That is what we have to hope for in recruiting now.
Munchie Legaux 3* - QB/Ath - Edna Karr High School (Louisiana)
By far, Munchie has the best offer list of any current Buff verbal. You look at his rivals.com player profile and he sports offers from Michigan, Oregon, Tennessee, Arizona, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Utah and Ole Miss. I was shocked when he committed to the Buffs this past November but so far he has stuck with his commitment. Munchie visited Arizona last weekend and is now seriously considering Cincinnati as well. His decision will be of serious interest because he is exactly what Colorado needs more of: athletes.
Ask any person who watches the Buffs compared to other programs and it is clear, the athletic ability is lacking. Munchie, I believe, is a player that can be a difference maker at multiple positions early in his career if he came to Colorado. I love the dynamic playmaking ability he could bring to the quarterback spot, I think he could make an unbelievable receiver at 6'4". He is clocked at running a 4.65 forty which many believe might not be fast enough to play receiver but I don't think many Colorado receivers run any faster than that right now. He would certainly be a welcome addition to the 2010 class.
The good thing going for the Buffs in this recruiting decision is his high school teammate, WR Keenan Canty, has also verbaled to Colorado which is important especially considering the big move from Louisiana to Colorado.
The Facts As of Now
Colorado currently has 20 verbal commitments, 14 of which are ranked as 3 stars and six ranked as 2 stars. Colorado also has one 2010 commit that will greyshirt for 2011 and a preferred walkon. 12 of the 20 play on the offensive side of the ball, five on defense, one kicker and two athletes (Legaux and Donnie Duncan who is projected as kick returner and wide receiver). Colorado is expected to sign one or two more players to fill this class.
The Buffs are now in protection mode to make sure other schools don't poach any players last minute like Munchie Legaux.
Colorado will also be getting three more eligible newcomers in 2010. QB/Ath Josh Moten, a 2009 signee, who grayshirted last year due to some clearinghouse issues, WR transfer from Michigan Toney Clemons and returning WR Kendrick Celestine, who left the program last year but earned his way back on the team.
Tight end and running back are the two biggest needs on offense. Colorado has received verbals from three tight ends and three running backs. Running back Tony Jones and Trea Jones have both been labeled as players with some potential. Trea injured his leg in the playoffs his senior season that ended his high school career but Trea made a ton of noise in North Carolina rushing for 1,651 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior. He was also named conference player of the year. Many are very excited about Tony Jones. He has drawn comparisons to former Rutgers running back Ray Rice, former West Virginia running back Steve Slaton and current Pitt back Dion Lewis. He was named New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year and the 5'8", 180 pound Jones guided national power Don Bosco Prep to a fourth straight state championship and a consensus national number one ranking. His highlight films are impressive. Many of the recruiting experts think he would have been a 40 offer kid if he was a few inches taller and he had a better academic status. Yes, their may be some concern about a kid qualifying at Colorado. Surprise surprise.
The two backs are a little undersized but they both had impressive high school careers.
On the defensive side of the ball, every year a need is interior defensive linemen. It is truly one of the hardest positions to find talent at. Dan Hawkins has not been successful at getting interior linemen to Colorado and it looks like it won't be any different in 2010. Colorado does have a few commitments from defensive ends Kirk Poston and Chidera Uzo-Diribe but nothing in the middle. Another big need for the Buffs was cornerback as two starters Jimmy Smith and Jalil Brown both graduate in 2010. Colorado has received a verbal from California prospect 3* Jered Bell to help fill that void of two graduating seniors. The Buffs may sign another cornerback before it is all said and done, maybe a junior college defensive back who could provide some immediate help in 2010 and 2011 when Colorado loses to starters.
Gem of the Class So Far
For me, it's QB Nick Hirschman from Los Gatos, California. He is already on CU's campus as an early enrollment and have heard rumors that he is really doing well in offseason workouts. The kid is a winner and really wants to be successful. Read this interview we did with Hirschman a while back to see his dedication to the sport.
Here are all of the stories on Hirschman.