I asked each of our football writers to help us recap the Colorado Buffaloes 2012 recruiting class last night to begin our breakdown of the new Buffs.
Feel free to throw your answers to the same questions into the comments below.
1) Do you agree with this staffs admitted philosophy of focusing on Colorado, California, and Texas?
Bob: Seems logical to me as that is where most of the coaches have roots and where the best players are (California and Texas that is). That being said, this class certainly isn't just centralized to those three states when you look at the talent brought in from the East coast especially the three players from DC and Yuri Wright from New Jersey. I think the coaches understand that they should focus in certain states and start pipelines in schools outside of California and Texas with continual talent like Don Bosco H.S. (NJ) and Woodson H.S.(DC).
Ash: Yes, yes, yes; all day long these three should be our recruiting home. Colorado for obvious proximity reasons; CA & TX for populational reasons. Any talent that the state of CO fails to generate will be found in Cali and Texas. We ignore them at our peril.
David: Absolutely! It's important for every program to lock up their in-state talent, and California and Texas are two of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the nation. If our staff isn't hitting TX and CA hard, we can't be successful.
Jon: I certainly think a large percentage of this staff's time should focus on those three states and there is only so much time that each coach can spend in multiple places while still being effective. But the DC3 this year showed that we can be successful anywhere, especially if the wins start coming. It would be nice to get back into Ohio some more and Pennsylvania seems ripe for the picking right now.
2) Jon Embree said in his press conference that his staff didn't put a focus on OL or LB's because there were other areas of focus. Is that the right strategy?
Bob: From a strategy perspective, yes, you should focus on areas of need. Do I agree that linebacker in particular isn't an area of need? No. Maybe he sees more from the linebackers and offensive line in waiting than we have seen but you look to 2013 and Colorado loses both Doug Rippy and Jon Major. The question now shifts to who does this staff think can fill those shoes? Brady Daigh has shown some good things but it will be interesting to see who develops this season from a group that is inexperienced behind Rippy, Major, Webb and Mahnke.
Ash: On the one hand, I understand that you have to pick your battles. On the other hand, I think that the offensive line needs depth above all other position groups. I dislike de-emphasizing it, but as someone (David? Jon?) mentioned in the threads a few days ago, some of our DL recruits from this year might follow Nembot to the offensive side.
David: Lets start with o-line: It's not like we didn't sign any. We signed two of them (not including Alex Kelley who will finally be on the team after greyshirting). I don't think we needed to sign more than three, and two is just fine with me to begin to balance the classes there. And I think we have a good group returning, so I'm just fine with this (and I said this in my pre-signing day positional preview). And with linebacker: If you go back to my preview, I said this here as well: We were good at LB for the 2012 cycle. If a special player had come along, sure, add the kid, but we didn't really need anyone. With guys like Tu'umalo, Harlos and possibly Clark looking to make the switch from safety to LB once they bulk up, plus the 6 scholarship guys we've got there already, we look to be set for this class. Now 2013, we'll need to look at taking your normal allotment, but I'm not worried.
Jon: It's hard for me to say, but the low numbers on the offensive line scare me to death, especially with the departure of Paulay Asiata. I've seen too many injuries add up on the o-line in a single season to ever feel comfortable, but I do realize that this staff had to greatly increase depth in a few key areas.
3) Other than cornerback, what position do you feel the Buffs solidified the most in the 2012 cycle?
Bob: You have to like what they did at fullback with Clay Norgard and Christian Powell. If these guys can anchor the running game for years to come, that would be nice. I love the versatility of Powell, just seems like an athlete that can help this football team.
Excited about defensive linemen Justin Solis and Kisima Jagne. Both pass the eyeball test.
Cautiously optimistic about the trio of wide receivers brought in. Peyton Williams had a pretty bad knee injury his senior season but I like the mix of size and speed here.
Ash: Other than cornerback, I'd say fullback; we got, like, seventeen guys there, amirite? Seriously though I'd say TE and fullback; between recruits and position changes, I think Embree & Co. have gone a long way to establishing good outside and lead blocking.
David: I really like most of our defensive line recruits, and I think there are some stars in that group. I know we're crazy-thin there, but I think we're going to have a bunch of these guys ready to go from day 1. And I like the group of wide receivers we brought in. I think they're going to prove to be very talented and will be looked back on as recruiting steals for us.
Jon: I am very excited about the tight end commits that got in this class. Irwin is going to be a great addition to both the run and pass game as he is an excellent blocker and I think that Vincent Hobbs could end up being the steal of the class. Watch his film again, this kid is extremely athletic.
4) What two or three players contribute immediately as true freshman?
Bob: It is hard to contribute on the defensive line because there is a huge difference between high school football and BCS level football size wise but would love to see some pass rush and resistance on the defensive line this year from Justin Solis and Kisima Jagne.
Someone from this year's receiving corp will have to make a contribution for this season to be a success.
Ash: Yuri Wright, Kenneth Crawley, Kisima Jagne
David: Well first I'll promise that more than two or three of them will be contributing a lot right away. I want to list off a whole bunch of guys, but I'll just say: Solis, Gerald Thomas, Crawley.
Jon: I already mentioned both Irwin and Hobbs and I definitely think that Yuri Wright could see plenty of time this year. I believe we will see one of the fullbacks end up starting very early in the season and I expect to see Donta Abron getting plenty of playing time.
5) Who is this year's Greg Henderson, someone who was underrated by the scouting services but had an amazing freshman season?
Bob: The tight end position is ripe for the taking for one of these freshmen. None were in the top echelon per the recruiting services but with Ryan Deehan graduating, only DaVaughn Thornton has any experience and he is probably too much of a tweener to be a full time tight end. A guy like Vincent Hobbs or Austin Ray could find their way into the starting lineup from day one with a successful offseason.
Ash: I'd say Donta Abron, can anyone say 'Speedy 2?'
David: Donta Abron or Davien Payne
Jon: Going back to Abron again. I still can't figure out how he is only a 2-star recruit. I don't think he will start this year, but I expect him to get plenty of touches for a freshman.
6) Grade Jon Embree and Company's performance this cycle, their first full recruiting period. When this coaching staff was hired, do you think they have met recruiting expectations or not?
Bob: Hard one to answer for sure and hard thing to grade without seeing kids play at this level. Everyone wants top 10 classes but usually that happens when you win. Getting Crawley and Wright helped this class from a star perspective. From a recruiting services perspective overall, though, this is a middle of the road class...only time will tell.
I do like how this staff didn't wait until the last month of the cycle to start getting commits and leave us holding our breath on signing day. They got kids to commit and then stick which is impressive, avoiding scramble drills is always a good thing especially when we were signing the majority of our classes the last two weeks of the cycle.
Ash: Considering the record the team posted this year, I applaud the recruiting. I think they succeeded in both making the team bigger and faster. On offense it's guys like these that won us the Big-12, and on defense it's guys like these that will help us win the Pac-12. Not to mention that they basically had to recruit guys on faith, I'm pleased with the recruiting class overall.
David: B/B+, seriously. They did a great job of balancing classes at positions with this group, and from the film and the offer lists of most of these guys, it looks like we got some really good players from some good programs. We got some 4 star guys and seemed to be legitimately in on some more, but that happens after a 3-10 season that was the 6th losing season in a row. But I really do like the kids in this class.
Jon: I am perfectly happy with this haul. I expect we will look back in 3-4 seasons and see at least 15 starters come right out of the 2012 recruiting class. With the way the team performed in Embree's first season I think he did a great job, especially with the late 5 he scored in Wright, Crawley, Hall, Hobbs, and Powell. What a way to close.
7) If you have any disappointments in how the class turned out, what would they be?
Bob: I still think we are void of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. Does this class have any instant offense type of players? Colorado is going to have to get in some shootouts in the Pac-12 with the likes of Oregon, USC, Stanford and the new staffs at Arizona and Washington State will only increase the high powered offenses of the conference. Did Colorado find players to help them in that category? Not sure.
Ash: Like most people, it pains me to see so many recruits leave the state, but I also think that it's an unreasonable expectation for people to think that CU will 'put up a fence' around the state of Colorado. There's not that many recruits worth talking about in the first place, and considering that most are recent transplants to the region, they're less likely to have hang-ups about going 500 miles away to go to school when you compare them to Alabama or New Jersey. I think we can do better than we did this year, but when Embree has more than just dreams to take into a recruit's house, we'll already be doing better.
David: I wish we could've snagged one (or both) of the higher rated tight ends, but I like what I've seen of the guys we got, too. Hobbs like he could end up being a steal, and all three look like they will definitely make an impact.
Overall, I'm pleased, folks. Plus the extensions for both BBall coaches, the signing day for the girls soccer team and the official announcement of girls lax coming to CU and I think it was a pretty darn good day for the Buffaloes.
Jon: I do wish we had gotten just one top flight offensive line prospect. Outside of that, I love it.