Like our member numbers and visitors, the Ralphie Report's mailbag is blowing up with a ton of great questions to spark some good conversation. Please, keep them coming. If their is something on your mind, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org like you have been doing. It is easier for us to keep a tab on what you want from us. And right now, you want football and recruiting...and we like that too.
First question comes from TC:
I saw this headline on Rivals.com that said Heaps names Top 10. He looks like he is a 2010 recruit. Who is this Heaps guy and do you think the Buffs have a chance at him? What other 2010 recruits should we know about in these early stages?
Well, the 2010 crop of recruits looks great right now (as it always does a year away before the 2009 season has even begun and results aren't scrutinized), starting in the state of Colorado. Like all recruits, though, before we can really see CU get some early commits, the Buffs need to start winning. I assume many recruits are in the "wait and see" game right now. Unlike Texas and Oklahoma who fill most of their class before getting half way through the season, the Buffs do not have that luxury at this time.
To start off, Jake Heaps is a quarterback from Washington state who will probably be in the top 5 recruit rankings when it is all said and done. Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming says Heaps is the No. 1 prospect of 2010. Here is a video of Heaps talking about his high school career. You have to be impressed when you listen to him talk. His highlight video (youtube) is great. He has the talent and moxie that you look for in a quarterback. What I really like just from watching his videos is his leadership and fire. He will be asked to add some weight but like he says in his video, he is a gamer. The last two years as a starter, he has not lost a gameon his way to winning two state championships. Here are some of his accolades from the past two years at Skyline High (source: ESPN):
2008: Washington ESPN Rise Gatorade Football Player of the Year. Class 4A Player of the Year. Class 4A First Team All-State. 2007: Completed 202 of 336 passes (60.1-percent) for 3,095 yards, 31
Heaps is member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and a Washington native so right now I would put BYU and Washington as his top two but CU did make the top 10 list.
As for other 2010 prospects, their is a solid group of Colorado quarterbacks that should get a ton of noise on a national level. One guy who might rival Heaps for the top QB spot is 6'5" 180 pound Austin Hinder from Steamboat Springs, CO. He has better athleticism than Heaps and is three inches taller. He will have more upside than Heaps coming out as well. Expect a ton of offers across the board for Hinder. The two other guys in the state are QB Danny Spond from Columbine and QB Johnny Miller from Mullen in Denver. Spond is 6'2" 210 and Miller is 6'2" 195. Spond might be converted into a safety, tight end or HBack style player because he is a little raw playing in that option offense at Columbine H.S., but he is an athlete. You can add the state runner-up quarterback, Kain Coulter, into the mix as well (hat tip to Hallux and What Rocks for correcting me on this, Mullen won the state championship. I incorrectly said Cherry Creek because I watched that Grandview game eight times). I still need to see more from Kain in his final year but he does know how to make plays with his feet and does remind people of Ryan Walters a little coming out of high school.
The Buffs have also extended an offer to RB Mister Jones from Littleton, CO. He transferred in from Arizona and torched the competition last year. He is a bigger back like Ray Polk, standing 6'2" 200 pounds.
Other names to keep an eye on that the Buffs have interest in are LB Evan Palelei, RB Deontae Cooper, WR Kenny Stills and S Sean Parker. Palelei would be a perfect fit in the Cabral's linebacker system.
Ryan writes in with this question:
What do you see being the most intriguing position battle this spring for the Buffs? I look over the depth chart and I see a ton of young players who are going to be in a fight for playing time. What do you see?
I couldn't agree more, Ryan. I can't wait for spring because of this reason. I would say maybe five guys have starting spots locked up, depending on how this recruiting class finishes off. I don't see a definite starter at running back, wide receiver (maybe Simas but I will believe it when I see it, the incomers could have a lot to say about that), tight end, center, offensive guards, the entire defensive line is up in the air, Shaun Mohler should have the position locked down at linebacker, maybe Jeff Smart but I think their are guys in the wings that can challenge for that spot and even the cornerback positions will be a dog fight between Jalil Brown, Cha'pelle Brown, Jimmy Smith and Anthony Wright. It would probably be safe to assume Mahnke and Perkins will be your day one starters at safety but don't count out Paul Vigo who was a 2008 commit that grey shirted this past year. So I count three starters on defense and two starters on offense right now. Those are going to be some battles.
Yes, the quarterback spot will be the most scrutinized and watched battle this offseason. It always is. I will leave that out because we will be reviewing that topic over the year until we are blue in the face. Every single position group is up in the air on offense. What I will be most intrigued by is the offensive line, never mind, who am I kidding, I will be most intensely watching the running back spot. We all will. What are the Buffs going to do with this stable of running backs? Will a year of offseason training do wonders for Darrell Scott? How is Speedy recovering? Is Ray Polk going to shock us all? Don't forget about Sumler who was the most trusted of backs last year. Tons of questions. Right now, it is Stewart's job and everyone must catch him. He was too good last year. All of those mentioned above would be wise to improve on things other than running with the ball in their hands. The coaches are looking for that complete back who can compliment the spread. Someone who can pick up the back side blitz or flow into the flats for a screen pass. I can't wait to watch that battle as they are no longer freshman, no longer learning but now doing. I think Scott will have a big chip on his shoulder and Hagan will feed that fire. All of this talk about Scott being a bust makes me sick. The guy, I mean the kid, was a teenager. Every time I read an article ensuing that he is a bust or the guy that lost out to a two star talent infuriates me. I am sure Hagan will use that as motivation for Scott.
Back to the offensive line. I am very excited to see how this group comes together. An offseason of strength and conditioning will do great things for this extremely young unit. If Solder continues to learn the position, Miller & MTM can recover from injury and Givens or Behrens can surprise, this offensive line will be great for years to come. Do you realize that those five guys are comprised of one junior, two sophomores and two freshmen...Yahtzee! Don't write off guys like Head, Tau, Iltis, Bahr, Daniels and Adkins either.
I will assess wideouts later. Let's hope we get our 2009 commits. That is all I have to say and Simas stays eligible.
On defense, the one battle that will capture most of my attention will be at linebacker. Just because it makes me crazy excited at the talent that we could be watching the next couple of years. Their are tons of questions at defensive line that are worthy of most important battle this spring but it is hard to ignore the group Cabral has to work with. I can't wait to see Jon Major, Lynn Katoa and Doug Rippy this offseason. Rippy was very physically mature last year but you could tell he was a freshman. It was apparent, though, that he was a football player. Katoa has all the tools but needs to figure it out in other areas of his life but like Jon Major, go watch the highlight videos and tell me you aren't excited. And let's hope Major will be 100% after the ACL injury but we have seen time and time again, it is not an easy one to return from. Then you have guys like B.J. Beatty, Michael Sipili, Marcus Burton, Jeff Smart and Shaun Mohler. The young guys will have to dethrone these five players. Losing Brad Jones hurts, especially in the pass rush but hopefully guys like Beatty, Sipili and Burton can fill that void. Beatty was successful last year at getting into the backfield when called on. Hopefully, he will be the guy.
It is going to be an exciting spring as their are a ton of questions with little definite answers.