Well, I was trying to think of how to describe this day for a while now. First thing that popped into my head was that it could have been worse, but it could have been better. Yes, the sting of WR Emory Blake going to Auburn after they jumped into the game late coupled with adopted Buff fan favorite, WR Diante Jackson, recommitting to Oregon hurt for a while. And we all wished Byron Moore would have made our year with a surprising commitment to the Buffs but we knew going in we were the underdog. But these three shouldn't really overshadow this recruiting class. Yes, Diante was the guy we wanted but one player will not make or break this program.
The instant internal dejection that was felt by all of us after DJ, Emory and to an extent, Byron announced their decision to not join the team sometimes masks the work the Buffs have already done and the needs that were met. As time passes, we will see that.
The work that Colorado has done was get a great quartet of defensive linemen starting with Nick Kasa. The Colorado prep was #1 on the priority list when we started this crazy cycle and that signing has come to fruition. Then you add priority #2b (Diante was #2a) in DT Edward Nuckols. Nuckols is a big time filler in the middle and has the ability to play from Day 1. Big Ed and Nick will be asked to carry the heavy burden on their shoulders of changing the trend of a poor pass rush in Boulder over the past couple of years. Their is no doubt in my mind that defensive line was the biggest need position this year and the Buffs addressed it with flying colors. Then you add in Nate Bonsu, who has already added weight to his 280 pound frame, and my sleeper pick of the cycle, DE Forrest West. There's something to be said for a player that was named the best sophomore at the National High School combine. Yes, he tore his pectoral muscle his junior year which kept him off the radar but the kid has all the physical tools to be a player down the line. Remember, his coach told us that he was receiving calls from Florida State and USC about this kid when he was a sophomore.
The first big concern on everyone's mind will be wide receiver. I am concerned, you are concerned, we are all concerned. We lost two goodies today, that is for sure but we also got three goodies in Jarrod Darden, Andre Simmons and Terdema Ussery. Darden is 6'5", Simmons is 6'2" and Ussery is 6'4". Size is something the Buffs have been lacking in the past and you can see that was clearly addressed today. The main concern now lies in the "if" statements that will ensue for the rest of the spring and leading up to the first game. The first big "if" statement is at quarterback but more pertinent to the wide receiver position, their are a ton of "ifs" surrounding each player. First of all, can the current Buff wide-outs step up and fulfill their potential. That only happens "if" Markques Simas can stay eligible, "if" Josh Smith rededicates himself and isn't injured, and "if" Chance Blackmon put on weight. Scotty McKnight will do well in the slot but we need to continue to add more playmaking ability to the receiver spot. The good news is that Smith and Simas both have the "ability" to be big time players for the Buffs but how do the other variables impact them to reach that full level of potential.
Speaking of the question mark at the quarterback position, the Buffs also got final confirmation that California prep star, Clark Evans, will be wearing the black and gold next year. How does 6'5" 225 pounds sound to you? And he can run. I am anxious to see Clark next fall and evaluate his throwing mechanics as well as witness the other mobile attributes he brings to the table. Clark may also have to try and beat out Ath/QB Josh Moten. Moten will get a chance to play quarterback as he another dual threat quarterback built in the mold of Pat White. The Buffs also plan to try out Moten on defense. He may also be another receiver candidate.
And for the recent commits, I do believe the Buffs got three good ones. "If" Simmons qualifies, he may be able to provide some more fire power to the position. Darden and Ussery will probably be redshirt candidates but you never know, CU only has four WR's on scholarship. Ussery would be the best bet to play early as Darden was out his senior season due to injury and won't be able to run routes until later this month. I wouldn't be surprised if Colorado were to pick up another wide-out before the signing deadline.
Colorado also did a good job in state, nabbing Kasa as the #1 recruit and Top 50 a player in the nation but also 4* OT Jack Harris, TE DaVaughn Thornton, K Zach Grossnickle and 3* Ath Parker Orms. I think each of these guys are going to be good fits in Boulder. Anyone who has lived in Colorado for the past year knows about Orms and his impressive dominance in the 4A classification. Thornton is a basketball player turned football player that will hopefully bring his athleticism to the field and star as a pass catcher for the Buffs in the future. Grossnickle, on the other hand, may be put into duty much quicker than any other prospect the Buffs signed today. He fills a much needed void on this team after the issues with place kicking last year.
Another solid job done on the linebacker corps as well. 3* Liloa Nobriga passes the eye test and his over 300 tackle production over the last two years is unquestioned. 3* LB Derrick Webb might not have the stature of Liloa but after interviewing his high school coach, it sounds like the Buffs got a kid who loves the game and will try and out work everyone on the field.
Rounding out the class you have OL David Bakhtiari, who many think is a great pickup for the Buffs because of his athleticism and raw talent at tackle. From Union High, C Shaun Simon, was an under the radar guy because he was only a senior starter but after a trying couple of high school years, he seemed to mature and developed into a strong player for the State Champions in Oklahoma. I wouldn't be surprised in Simon makes an appearance on defense. OL Gus Handler is another guy who won't be talked about a lot but anyone who watches this kid's motor and mean streak has to be impressed. He actually had one of the more impressive offer lists of any Buff commit. DB Deji Olatoye is another under the radar guy. He started playing football first when he was a sophomore so he is still raw but he has good height (6'2") for a defensive back and has a huge wingspan (6'8"). Finally, 3*
I feel it is a pretty solid class. Rivals and scout.com won't rate it high but their are plenty of reasons to be excited about these players. And don't let the loss of Diante Jackson ruin the cycle for you. Again, the good thing about football is the fact that one player, especially a player who has yet to play a down of college football, doesn't decide the future of your team.
The Buffs currently have 19 signatures, their goal was 20 - 22.
Welcome to our new players and Go Buffs!