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National Signing Day 2022: Colorado Buffaloes add long-term finds and instant impact

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The Buffaloes added a lot of pieces.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Like the rest of the college football world, the Colorado Buffaloes sign most of their recruiting class during the December Early Signing Day Period. This year’s class was large and mostly covered in the lead up to that day. Since then, the Buffs have changed a large portion of their staff and lost quite a few contributors from last year’s team. As a result, plenty of work was done in January to fill out even more of the 2022 class. These recruits represent the first effort from new assistant coaches, like new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr., as well as a response to those immediate departures.

Since signing the bulk of the class in December, this is who the Buffs have added:

* DE Shakaun Bowser (signed in December)

* DB Jason Oliver

* OL Van Wells

* ATH Oakie Salave’a (announced and signed on ESD 2021)

* LB Isaac Hurtado (junior college transfer)

* S Jeremy Mack (junior college transfer)

* OT Alex Harkey (junior college transfer)

* De Chance Main (transfer - Incarnate Word)

* RB Anthony Hankerson (possible class of 2023)

* RB Ramon Jefferson (transfer - Sam Houston State)

* OT Tommy Brown (transfer - Alabama)

* WR RJ Sneed (transfer - Baylor)

* QB Maddox Kopp (transfer - Houston)

That is a LOT of names, especially when you consider there were 20+ more added to the team in December. This is a solid mix of high school signees (5), junior college transfers (3) and FBS/FCS transfers (5). The heavy focus on Texas in this class also continued, with 6/13 players coming from the Lone Star State. Three more of these players came from California, with one each coming from Arizona (Bowser), Salave’a (American Samoa), Mississippi (Mack) and Florida (Hankerson).

OK, all the necessary info is out of the way. Now I get to talk about these players and how they fit in to the team. You can almost see the 1-to-1 replacements for transfers in this list. Proven college wide receiver Brenden Rice exits — proven college wide receiver RJ Sneed enters. Proven college running back Jarek Broussard exits — proven running back (at the FCS level) Ramon Jefferson enters. There are still massive holes to fill (we miss you, Dimitri Stanley and Christian Gonzalez), and this does not include graduates like Carson Wells and Nate Landman, but the staff did a decent job (on offense, at least) of trying to replace parts as closely as they could.

You are also seeing Mike Sanford quickly trying to remake the quarterback room into what he likes. CU was briefly in on Maddox Kopp as a high school recruit and it’s hard to know anymore about his ability after riding the bench his first year at Houston. Kopp is more of a passer than a runner, but he can do both when he needs to. It’ll be interesting to see how he fits in a pretty crowded QB room. Sneed is a fantastic possession receiver who has been the #1 option on a Power 5 team in the past, and he will be a nice security blanket for whoever takes snaps at QB next year. Tommy Brown, from Alabama, will immediately be one of the most talented players on this team and will certainly start along the offensive line. He can play inside or outside and has plenty of size to move mountains. Van Wells, a high school recruit, is a solid Texas lineman that should be a good center down the line. Ramon Jefferson at RB is a different type of running back than currently exists on the roster. He is a fire hydrant that will run through tackles whenever he can.

Defensively, there is still a need for immediate starters all over the field and specific reinforcements on the defensive line. I love Jason Oliver as a recruit, who comes to Boulder by way of new DB coach Rod Chance. He is a well-rounded player who happens to be a top-100 California recruit, and he will be needed as soon as he is ready in this defensive backfield. Bowser and Hurtado are athletic pieces in the linebacking corps, but both will likely need some time in the oven before they are ready to replace Wells and Landman. Bowser, in particular, is one of the best edge-rushing prospects that the Buffs have signed in recent history. Chance Main, of Last Chance U fame, is really the only defensive lineman added with any heft, and it’s hard to know what he can do at the FBS level.

It is impressive to see the amount of activity for the Buffs, and they still aren’t done. I would expect a few more additions during and after spring ball. This 2022 class is truly a roster turnover class, where CU is moving from “MacIntyre/Tucker guys” to “Dorrell” guys. There will be a lot of new faces. I’m not sold on this class’s ability to immediately replace the departing talent, but I’m excited about a lot of the pieces.