|2012 Offense As of December 4th 2011|
|QB||Brent Burnette||N. Hirschman||S. Dorman||Shane Dillon|
|Connor Wood||John Schrock^|
|WR||Dustin Ebner||Jarrod Darden||Keenan Canty||Austin Vincent||Jeffrey Thomas|
|Markiri Pugh||Paul Richardson*||T. McCulloch||Nelson Spruce||Gerald Thomas|
|T. Papillion^||Drew Ebner^||Peyton Williams|
|RB||Josh Ford^||Malcolm Creer||Terr. Crowder|
|Tony Jones||Davien Payne|
|FB||Nick Plimpton^||Clay Norgard|
|TE||Nick Kasa||D. Thornton||Kyle Slavin||Austin Ray|
|Alex Wood^||Sean Irwin|
|OL||R. Dannewitz*||David Bakhtiari*||Kaiwi Crabb||Brad Cotner||Jeromy Irwin|
|Gus Handler*||Paulay Asiata||Marc Mustoe||Alex Kelley|
|Jack Harris||Alex Lewis||S. Nembot||Gerrad Kough|
|* - Returning Starting. ^ - Non Scholarship Player|
With recruiting heating up for 2012, now is a good time to look at the needs for the Colorado Buffaloes. After only winning three games this past season and not having a winning season since 2005, upgrades are obviously needed across the board. Colorado is expected to take somewhere between 25 - 28 high school players with 28 seniors graduating this past year.
The Buffs currently have 59 scholarship players on their roster, 20 non-scholarship players. They have 16 verbal commitments including grey shirt OL Alex Kelley, so 75 scholarship players if all 16 verbals sign their LOIs with Colorado in February. The Buffs have 12 verbals on the offensive side of the ball, only four on the defensive side of the ball. The Buffs have at least one verbal on the offensive side of the ball for each major position category so they have done a nice job filling out the class thus far.
The highest profile verbals on offense is QB Shane Dillon, who is ranked as the 13th best pro-style quarterback in the nation according to rivals.com and FB Clay Norgard, the fourth best fullback in the country.
Needs - Like we talked about above, the staff has filled holes on the offensive side of the ball already. They have players slotted so the big need is for players to emerge and replace key seniors who are now gone - QB Tyler Hansen, RB Rodney Stewart, WR Toney Clemons, OG Ryan Miller and TE Ryan Deehan. Each position group loses one of its key starts from a year ago. You can probably argue that only two of the eleven spots on the offensive side of the ball have starters locked in - WR Paul Richardson and OT David Bakhtiari.
I know Jon Embree wants more production out of the tight end position in 2012 and with Ryan Deehan graduating, the returning production on the squad is little to none. It looks like DaVaughn Thornton is destined for a move to the wide receiver position. Embree needs to hope he struck gold with the two 2012 commits Austin Ray and Sean Irwin. Ray, a 6'6" 235 verbal from Missouri, originally was committed to Ole Miss, but changed his pledge to the Buffs. Irwin, a 6'4" 220 pound verbal from Cypress, TX missed nine games of his senior season with a leg injury.
At wide receiver, the Buffs lose WR Toney Clemons from a year ago who really emerged in the final half of the season to become CU's best receiver over that period. The Buffs return Paul Richardson who has all the potential in the world but finding an adequate #2 receiver is a concern for 2012. Freshman Keenan Canty and Tyler McCulloch got experience in 2011. The Buffs are bringing in three receivers so far in Peyton Williams, Gerald Thomas and Jeffrey Thomas. All three had 10 or more touchdowns as seniors their final year of high school.
A big part of next year is getting sophomores and freshmen to emerge on the offensive line. Colorado has some holes to fill on the interior of the line with Ethan Adkins and Ryan Miller both graduating from their starting guard positions. The Buffs need OG Paulay Asiata to emerge to fill one of those spots. David Bakhtiari is really the only guy who has a solidified spot on the line next season.
At quarterback, Tyler Hansen is gone but there is hope. In fact, I think many Buff fans are excited about the quarterback position. Colorado will have the services of a former top recruit, Connor Wood, who transferred to CU from Texas. Wood, a former four star prospect who stands 6'4", got caught behind a plethora of quarterbacks in Austin. Competing with Wood will be incoming freshman Shane Dillon, sophomore Nick Hirschman and freshman John Shrock. Expect a competitive battle with each of these four quarterbacks having a shot to lead the Buffs in 2012.