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Buffs Preview 2014: The Newcomers

Looking at the new addition to the Buffaloes in 2014.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

There has been more offseason chatter about Colorado this year than in other recent years, and that is directly attributed to Coach MacIntyre and Rick George. They have done a great job of being active in the "off" season, keeping CU football at the forefront of our minds. The biggest news obviously being the new facilities project. But we're talking about 2014, not 2015. The offseason truly kicked off with the signing of the new recruiting class.

Class of 2014 Thoughts

This class won't wow you with their ranking, and they won't have to. They aren't counted on to be the savior of Colorado football, they are just expected to contribute. This is a class that may not take us all the way, but Coach Mac can win with them.  I talked to Kyle McCall of Buff Stampede about his thoughts on this class and he had this to say (by the way, Kyle deserves a shout out. A very accessible, knowledgeable resource):

1. What are your overall impressions of the 2014 class?

It looks solid to me, granted the recruiting services didn’t rate the class high in the Pac-12. I doubt Colorado’s staff cares about stars and ratings too much. Fans do, well, some fans care about star. Do I care? Not really. Nobody really cares what I think about stars. My contributions to this article are two-star at best.

CU’s staff appears to have a good eye for talent and if the Buffs end up signing Jomon Dotson, Elijah  Rordriguez and Chance Waz, we’re talking about it being a huge success. It’s going to take a few more Adison Gillam finds and especially wins before more two-and-three-star lands turn into fours. Dotson is the big one that got away and could give the Buffs headaches in the coming years. So it goes on the recruiting trail.

CU found four of the top in-state players, hammered California and sprinkled in Texas and Utah for the 2014 class. The Buffs have made strides in Northern and Southern California, which will be huge for the growth of recruiting. No offense to the prep game in the Centennial State, there just aren’t that many high-major prospects every year.

CU got a "Christmas in May" gift with Valor Christian offensive lineman Isaiah Holland. If he can shed a couple of pounds and improve his mobility, he could be a stable on the O-line down the road.

Losing that weight is going to be big for Holland. I lost some weight by not drinking Diet Coke and going to Chic-fil-a, maybe he should give that a shot. Man, Chic-fil-a is delicious. I guess we could all lose a few pounds, but then again most of us don’t tip the scale at 330 plus.

2. Who are three potential instant impact recruits?

The Sacramento junior college guys: Ahkello Witherspoon and Sully Wiefels.

Witherspoon is a lanky corner who will play a lot this fall. He looked terrific in the spring game. After a late growth spurt following high school, he could be another DITR: Diamond In The Rough. I’m sure CU fans are sick of that lame cliché. I’m sorry.

Wiefels will likely get a lot of snaps as well. Sully is a mauler and he’s battle tested at the junior college level. He’ll be out there pushing around Colorado State – he almost landed at CSU, recruiting win over the Rams – at the Rocky Mountain Showdown.

For a third, how about Shay Fields, who has the pedigree to be something special at the receiver position. It’ll be interesting to see if he can find room in the slot as a freshman. He had a stellar prep career at St. John Bosco, which was one of the top teams in the entire nation last fall.

Former Biletnikoff Award winner Troy Walters will be teaching young Fields the ways of the wide out. Walters tweeted on signing day that he can’t wait to help Fields reach his dreams, or something like that, it was touching. Seriously, it was. I think he will do great things for Fields. Shay won’t be Paul Richardson out of the gate, but he’s capable of similar production in the future. P-Rich to S-Fields, it could happen. Temper expectations for the 2014 season though, Fields still has a lot to learn.

3. Who are three potential sleepers that are underrated?

Definitely Josh Kaiser. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder from Mission Viejo, Calif., will need to gain weight and learn more about the offensive line after converting from defense late in the high school game. Mission Viejo coach Bob Johnson raved about Kasier’s frame and said CU found a gem. There’s that lame cliché again. Kaiser will need awhile to develop and grow, but we can say that for a lot of college freshmen. Kaiser Permanente on the offensive line down the road in Boulder. I give that joke a 2/10.

Jaisen Sanchez is another sleeper, as much as tall, three-star defensive backs can be sleepers. Hailing from the islands of Hawaii, Sanchez played for a strong program at St. Louis -- not the one on the Missouri river with the best baseball team known to man. Being that far West, he was under the radar, another cliché I’m sure Buffs fans would like to never see again. I’m sorry.

Sanchez is close friends with CU’s Juda Parker, so he’ll have a teammate to show him the ropes. There is considerable traffic in front of Sanchez for playing time, but he’s fast, tall – did I mention this staff likes tall DBs -- and can tackle.

I talked to a 2015 Hawaii offensive lineman prospect awhile back that met Sanchez at prom. He said Sanchez is tall. Inderkum High School recruiting coordinator Terrance Leonard told me that CU head coach Mike MacIntyre’s favorite players are tall defensive backs. I wish I was a tall defensive back.

Speaking of MacIntyres, we can’t forget Jay MacIntyre. He’s a versatile, gritty, tough, superlative, superlative, player who was fun to watch in high school at nearby Monarch. And by fun, I mean Monarch ran it up the middle 70 times a game. Boy, did Jay take some shots.

Jay-Mac gave it his all for the Coyotes and I think he’ll do the same for the Buffs. Where the younger Mac lands on the field is yet to be determined. I hope in two or three years we’re talking about how much of a leader Jay is for CU. I hope he does well, I really like in-state recruits. Jay’s father had a chance to play for Jay’s grandfather and so on and on. Maybe some day Jay’s son will get the chance to suit up for him. Now I’m confused.

I always thought the, uh hum, comparisons to Cody Hawkins were completely off base for Jay, but that’s another story. Jay’s younger brother – sophomore-to-be at Monarch -- was taking snaps at QB this summer at a CU camp. Go ahead and freak out now.

4. Who are three players in this class with the highest long-term ceiling?

Fields, with his four-star rating and all, comes to mind, but let’s think of three more.

Dylan Keeney, the tight end from Granite Bay, Calif., gets to be No. 1 because he's 6-foot-6, fast and was a winner at the high school level. Granite Bay, 2012 state champs.

There has been a lot of talk about Keeney stretching the field for CU and coach MacIntyre spoke highly of the three-star prospect on signing day. The Buffs sound excited to get him on the field and fans are stoked to see him play. It should be gnarly. My California lingo references are terrible.

Chaminade two-way standout Donovan Lee has the potential to be a good player in the Pac-12. He tore it up in high school against legit competition, won a title as a senior and is an excellent athlete. D-Lee is going to ball wherever he lands.

Lee was an electric player out of the backfield and as receiver for Chaminade. He was also a game changer on defense. If Lee were listed a couple of inches taller on his recruiting profile, the UCLAs and USCs of the world would have been all over him. Theoretical recruiting battle victory over UCLA and USC!

Last, but not least for the high ceiling crowd is Canyon, Calif., three-star quarterback Cade Apsay.

The 2015 quarterback recruiting process was a bit hectic. Ross Bowers, that Kearns kid, Caleb Wilson, Steven Montez, on and on. CU stumbled upon Montez, got him to commit and appear to really like him … like a lot … like a whole lot … like Brian Lindgren man crush on Montez lot. In all that hoopla, I kind of forgot about Apsay, sorry Cade.

Apsay is a strong runner and has nice touch on his passes. He’ll need to bulk up to get ready for Pac-12 defenders. With Sefo Liufau set as CU’s starter, hopefully it can all play out the redshirt way. Apsay’s development will be a key in the final success rate of the MacIntyre staff’s first true, full recruiting class. Let’s be honest though, with all the walk-ons and Liufau entrenched, there’s going to be serious competition for CU signal-callers in the coming years.

Oh and a fourth, Evan White. That kid is going to smack the expletive out of Pac-12 offensive weapons. He was a baller at Cherokee Trail and plays with a chip on his shoulder.

I have no idea when he’ll get on the field, but when he does, watch out. I’m expecting a lot of bone-jarring hits from White. It hurts just to think about his hard-hitting ways. Whether he’ll be a safety or a linebacker or a mix of both is the question. Either way, White is going to lay some fools out. The 2014 recruiting class should be fun to watch. Now back to finding the next stud for the 2015 class.

You heard it from the horse's mouth, this class may not have the most stars, but Coach Mac got contributors. On to transfers and jucos.

The first transfer that CU got was from another in-state program, Air Force. Jaleel Awini, an exciting young QB, was dismissed from Air Force for, according to rumors, academic dishonesty. While Jon Embree did not offer him, another example of him neglecting the state of Colorado, Coach Mac was more than happy to grab him, especially as a walk on. As an exciting athlete, he is a candidate to contribute at a number of positions after he sits out a year. The biggest transfer news this offseason is Shane Callahan. Leo Jackson, a hybrid DE/DT from Foothills College, unfortunately has to finish classes and won't join the team until next year. Travis Talianko, however, has transferred and can play this year. The SJSU transplant stuck with Coach Mac for three years now (taking the juco route last year), and he should be able to provide nice competition at safety. Now for those leaving the program. Connor Wood is ending his career early, saying he lost his passion. Lowell Williams, Jeff Thomas, Kennan Canty, and Gunnar Graham are continuing their careers elsewhere, and we here at Ralphie Report wish them all the best.

It is time to talk about the biggest thing to happen to CU football in a long time. The facilities project. Rick George willed the project to groundbreak on May 12th, collectively silencing the demons on many long-time fan's backs. There is a webcam up so fans can watch the construction (link) and the project is moving rapidly, with both the touchdown club and the northeast bleachers already demoed. The project is paying, and will pay, dividends in CU for recruiting, prestige, and revenue streams. Many 2015 recruits have already mentioned it as a selling point in recruiting, though who knows if it will pay off that early. For those already at Colorado, the additions will improve their locker room, academic space, and training center for the long run. Next on George's list should be the touch-ups to Folsom and then on to the CEC, it could use a renovation. All in all, this offseason was a busier one that we've had for a while in Buffland, and should continue to be fun to follow as we count down to August 29th.