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Colorado Football Class of 2021: A Small First Step for Karl Dorrell

With few players graduating, Dorrell eases back into college football.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 14 Colorado at Stanford Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If you go by 247 Sports (which you should, Adam Munsterteiger is the best), the Colorado Buffaloes had 60th best recruiting class in the country. This is the year after snagging the 35th best recruiting class. On its face, that is a precipitous drop. However, there’s a million reasons why these numbers don’t tell the whole story. This class, the first under Karl Dorrell, fills some important holes for the Buffs and leaves room for Dorrell to build off.

The first thing to note about this class is that it’s relatively small. Excluding the specialists (don’t worry, we will talk about them), this class only had 16 players. That is bigger than expected, frankly, given the small senior class that will be even smaller, given that players can return in 2021 if they so choose. Generally, with small classes, you can be a little more picky and choosey with who joins the herd. This can lead to some nice coups. That happened at times this year and at certain positions (for instance, a running back was not needed this class), but there are some weird circumstances in general.

One of these players is Erik Olsen. The state of Colorado had three high level prep tight ends this year, and CU went after all three of them before zeroing in on Olsen. Olsen is the most balanced of the three tight ends available and he can enroll early, which means he can send some needed reinforcements to the tight end room right away.

Another gem of this class, and none of my favorite players here, is Kaylin Moore. I think he is criminally underrated and exactly the type of player that Karl Dorrell needs to get more of to Colorado. He plays at a stacked program in Southern California and his positional versatility ended up working against him for college prospects. Dorrell leveraged an existing relationship (he is teammates with current CU freshman Mister Williams) and went into California to pull an underrated gem. Moore will likely be a defensive back, but he is the type of heady athlete you need in your program and it becomes easier to take him and deal with the position later when there are less players to replace.

The other thing a small class allows you to do, in terms of needs, is to get the best specialists possible. Ashton Logan (who hasn’t signed yet) and Cole Becker (who was flipped from ISU) are a great punter-kicker duo. These are positions that can win or lose you games, and being able to put resources towards specialists is a semi-luxury that could be taken this year.

The other thing working against this class was Karl Dorrell. It’s not necessarily the coach himself, but the situation he has found himself in. The man has not recruited in the West for more than a decade, and his NFL experience atrophied a lot of his relationships and cache in the meantime. Realistically, it helped Dorrell that he kept quite a bit of the existing staff in place. Darrin Chiaverini, Darian Hagan, Tyson Summers, and Brian Michalowski helped to keep some of the recruiting momentum from 2019.

However, much of the recruiting staff (shoutout Cymone George) was shuffled, and the main killer was how late in the game this was. Karl Dorrell had almost no opportunities for official visits, given that he started in the middle of February and the world shut down in the middle of March. He needed to hire staff, meet with his team, and then set up a board, before he realistically could go after some targets. That makes it harder this year to really have a decisive strategy. I will say, their 2022 gameplan seems a little more on-track, with way more than 100 offers out already.

All of this adds up to a weird class, and even weirder for a recruit. I couldn’t have picked my college as easily if I didn’t set foot on campus to really get a feel for it. If I had multiple colleges offering to get me there for free, it would have been even harder. These players that pledged to go to Boulder, largely out of state, did so without seeing Boulder for the most part. That’s going to be tough. I would assume there will be more transfers than usual out of this recruiting class.

In general, this is a recruiting class that filled some needs and took advantage of the smaller class to shore up team responsibilities. There are some unique pieces of talent and a few players that will play early (expect a lot of Trustin Oliver), but it’s hard to say this Karl Dorrell’s signature class. 2022 is a much better measuring stick for his vision of the program, and while this is a first step in his direction, it is not a large one.