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Reflections on the Colorado Buffaloes 2017 recruiting class

CU is building something big.

NCAA Football: Utah at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We should all aspire to be the man in the headlining picture. This is a man who knows what he wants. This is a man who puts effort and commitment into every aspect of his life, including being a fan. This is a man with horns on his head, the cool kind, not the devil kind. Simply put, this man has figured it out. He is applauding in the picture, cheering on the players that just won ten games, but based on what we see, we can extrapolate a little further. We can see that he is applauding the incoming recruiting class for the Buffs. And it’s worth applauding.

Long-winded introduction aside, this class was a huge leap forward. The Colorado Buffaloes just won the Pac-12 South with a roster that was made up of Coach Mac’s players, the majority of which had zero other Pac-12 offers. CU took chances on athletes that they liked, and it paid off big time. Now, with the losing seasons in the review mirror and some dynamite recruiters on staff, the Buffs don’t have to stick their neck out as far, which is an uncomfortable position for a buffalo. Instead, for the 2017 class, CU imposed their will on the rest of the Pac-12 and the country as a whole, and got the guys with as many suitors as the Bachelor. Now, that isn’t to say that the previous classes weren’t good gets. But if the goal of recruiting is to upgrade talent every year, Colorado just did that in a big way. This is one of the highest rated classes since the 21st century, and the “best” class since the 2008 class, featuring Darrell Scott.

Now, let’s get to the actual class and why I love it so much. It’s clear that the staff had a plan in mind when putting this class, especially near the end of the cycle. When CU lost its 4 games in 2016, there was a common theme between them. In all of them, the Buffs were the worse team in the trenches, especially visible in the Oklahoma State and USC games. Coach MacIntyre recognized this as the fans did. When CU ran into teams that have been recruiting blue-chip hogs consistently, they struggled because their athletes could just dominate the trenches. So the Buffs went hunting for some hogs themselves, and this class gave them in spades. The big uglies got bigger and uglier in the 2017 cycle.

First, the offensive line signed five STUDS who will all start at some point in their career. The two tackles, Heston Paige and Jake Moretti, have length, size, and nasty, with Moretti being a legit blue-chip prospect. They are also local products, never a bad thing. Inside, there are some Jolly Mean Giants. Casey Roddick and Grant Polley are tall guards, both about 6’4, with Polley having quick feet and strength at 280 and Roddick acting like a 330 pound bulldozer. Those two will pave plenty of holes to run through. Will Sherman is an athletic interior lineman who could also play center. He can pull like nobody’s business. These five put together a strong backbone for the offense in the future.

Defensively, the athletes up front are long, big, and physical. Players like Chris Mulumba and Dante Sparaco are amazingly athletic for their size, and ready to play right away. Javier Edwards is an elite space-eater, and the high school nose tackle taken after him, Jalen Sami, is an intriguing mix of giant (6’6, 350) and fast. Players like Sebastian Olver and Jacob Callier aren’t quite as huge, but they are aggressive to the ball and win at the point of attack. These are violent players with the heft to match. In a few years, or immediately in some cases, CU will impose their will on other teams.

Shifting away from the line of scrimmage, the Buffs put a premium on athleticism this cycle. CU wanted to get faster, quicker, and more agile. To this end, many players on both sides of the ball pop with their measurables as well as their play. A player like Maurice Bell, one of my favorites this class, would have been the most athletic in years prior, and maybe the highest rated. It’s a good thing that he can be forgotten at times in the mix of pure talent.

At the top of the list is Chris Miller, possibly the signee with the most God-given ability. Miller can jump, run, and move with just about anybody, and his other suitors prove that. As a defensive back, give him time with MacIntyre, and I don’t know if there is a ceiling on his play. We have yet to see a DB with his gifts under Mac. He is not alone, however. Kevin George, Laviska Shenault, K.D. Nixon, Jaylon Jackson, all show their talent in an obvious way. Superb body control, shiftiness, and giddy-up. They are fun to watch. I can’t name names in the same way that I did for the offensive and defensive lines, largely because that would be the full class. There is not a single player that isn’t one of the most athletic on the field. CU has previously recruited ball players, guys who make plays with or without elite athleticism. It’s obvious that the Buffs wanted to upgrade team speed this class, and find players that can make plays because of their athleticism. This helps every facet of the game. On special teams, your gunners are just a bit faster, your blocks a bit better, your returner a bit quicker. On offense, every play can be a touchdown play, and conversely, every play can be saved on defense. It’s a fun brand of football to play.

Simply put, this is a foundational class. The 2017 class is one that is big enough, deep enough, and talented enough to compete for championships, conference and beyond. CU can build off of this class, much like they built off of the 2013 class. Who will be this year’s Sefo Liufau? Phillip Lindsay? Tedric Thompson? Chidobe Awuzie? Those players turned into grown men who dominated almost everybody across from them, and for most of them, CU took a chance few others took on Signing Day. This time around, few chances were taken. These players were nationally recruited, visible, valued. Suitors were brushed off. The Buffs won ten games based upon the foundation of a great class that had leadership. What could they do with this one?

Colorado Football 2017 Class

Name Scout Rating Rivals Rating 247 Rating ESPN Rating School State
Name Scout Rating Rivals Rating 247 Rating ESPN Rating School State
Maurice Bell 3 star 3 star 3 star 4 star Murrieta Valley High School California
Jacob Callier 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star St. John Bosco California
Javier Edwards (JuCo) 3 star 3 star 3 star 4 star Blinn College Texas
Alex Fontenot 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star George Ranch High School Texas
Kevin George 3 star 2 star Not rated 3 star Georgia Military College Georgia
Shamar Hamilton (JuCo) 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star ACA College Florida
Jaylon Jackson (EE) 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star Cedar Hill High School Texas
Nate Landman 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star Monte Vista High School California
Isaiah Lewis (EE) 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star Granite Bay High School California
Tyler Lytle (EE) 3 star 3 star 3 star 4 star Servite High School California
Chris Miller 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star Denton High School Texas
Jake Moretti (EE) 4 star 4 star 4 star 4 star Pomona High School Colorado
Chris Mulumba (JuCo) 2 star 3 star 3 star Not rated Diablo Valley Community College California
Chase Newman 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star La Mirada High School California
K.D. Nixon 4 star 4 star 4 star 4 star DeSoto High School Texas
Sebastian Olver 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star Marin Catholic High School California
Heston Paige 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star Thunderridge High School Colorado
Grant Polley 4 star 3 star 3 star 4 star Denton High School Texas
Jared Poplawski 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star Saguaro High School Arizona
Casey Roddick 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star St. Bonaventure High School California
Jalen Sami 2 star 2 star 2 star Not rated Vista Ridge High School Colorado
Laviska Shenault 4 star 3 star 3 star 4 star DeSoto High School Texas
William Sherman 3 star 3 star 3 star 4 star Allen High School Texas
Dante Sparaco (EE) 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star IMG Academy Florida
Jonathan Van Diest 3 star 3 star 4 star 4 star Cherry Creek High School Colorado
Carson Wells 3 star 2 star 3 star 2 star South Sumter High School Florida
Dante Wigley (JuCo) 3 star 3 star 3 star 3 star Holmes Community College Georgia