Hopefully by now Buffs fans have had a chance to shake off the disappointing 38-8 loss to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl. And while you ring in the New Year tonight, hopefully you can look back and celebrate one of the best seasons in Colorado Football’s history (10-4 overall, Pac-12 South Champions).
Because tomorrow, the 2017 season begins.
More than 100 of the top high school football players from the ESPN 300 Class of 2017 will be on full display at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL for the 10th edition of the Under Armour All-America Game (11 a.m. MT, ESPN). Three of those players have verbally committed to play football for the Colorado Buffaloes next season.
COMMITTED PLAYERS TO WATCH
JON VAN DIEST (OUTSIDE LINEBACKER - 6’1”, 234 LBS – Cherry Creek H.S., Englewood, CO)
Van Diest was invited to, and would have been playing in the game but a broken arm will force him to sit out. Ranked 239th in the ESPN 300, the 4-star local product committed to the Buffs back in February 2016. As a senior at Cherry Creek, the outside linebacker accounted for 74 total tackles and 6 ½ sacks. According to ESPN.com, Van Diest “could potentially develop as a defensive end, especially if continues to grow, but will likely transition to linebacker on more of fulltime basis in college.” Van Diest, who will be playing for Team Highlight in the Under Armour Game, is a prized recruit who should help fill the big hole left by OLB Jimmie Gilbert in 2017.
XAVIER NEWMAN (OFFENSIVE CENTER – 6’3”, 272 LBS – DeSoto H.S., DeSoto, TX)
Also playing for Team Highlight is the number 2 overall offensive center in the country Xavier Newman. Ranked 246th in the ESPN 300, Newman is one of nine players from the state of Texas to verbally commit to the Buffs. “He shows versatility playing multiple spots along the offensive line, but will develop as an interior player in college,” an ESPN.com scouting report said of Newman. The 4-star DeSoto product should feel right at home in Boulder as he will be joined by two of his high school teammates, #42 ranked WR K.D. Nixon and #97 ranked WR Laviska Shenault Jr.
GRANT POLLEY (OFFENSIVE GUARD – 6’4”, 270 LBS – Denton H.S., Denton, TX)
Joining Newman on Team Highlight’s offensive line is Grant Polley, the 249th ranked player in the ESPN 300. Hailing from Denton, Texas, the 4-star Polley is a “prospect with some good physical tools and brings upside” according to ESPN.com. Both Newman and Polley should help bolster a Colorado offensive line which allowed 31 sacks in 2016. Polley’s high school teammate, #54 ranked CB Chris Miller, will also be joining the Buffs in 2017.
UNCOMMITED PLAYER TO WATCH
JOSH FALO (TIGHT END - 6’5”, 235 LBS – Inderkum, H.S., Sacramento, CA)
Playing for Team Armour, Falo (pronounced follow) is the 158th ranked player in the ESPN 300 and brother of current Buffs outside linebacker N.J. Falo. The top-ranked tight end in the class of 2017, Falo “displays good hands with the ability to extend and snatch the ball away from his body,” his ESPN.com scouting report said. In his senior season at Inderkum, Falo finished with 21 receptions for 410 yards and 8 touchdowns, while also dominating on the defensive side of the ball. The versatile 4-star product visited Boulder in mid-October this year, witnessing the Buffs 40-16 win over Arizona State. However, Falo still two more official visits to take in January (1/13 at USC; 1/27 at Oregon) before he will announce where he will play college ball next year.
While Colorado was losing to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl, Falo replied to a tweet by his Inderkum teammate TraJon Cotton (also considering the Buffs) by saying “They (the Buffs) are in need of you and me brother”
They are in need of you and me brother https://t.co/x0T4pxn3u0— Josh Falo ☝ (@Josh_falo) December 30, 2016
Perhaps a telling sign? We may not know that answer until National Signing Day on February 1st. But one thing is for certain, the ‘Rise is Real’ in Boulder and the future of Colorado’s Football program will be on display on New Year’s Day.