I'm calling it right ****ing now - the "Decade of Despair" is officially over!This article was originally published in blog:
This fall camp sees the return of a strong core of talented veterans, a major infusion of new talent, and a coaching staff that returns completely intact for the 2nd year of a culture and systems change in the Embree Era.
We're young, but we have talent. Guys know what is expected of them. They know the identity this football team will have. It's summed up in the fight song, "Shoulder to shoulder, we will Fight! Fight! Fight-Fight-Fight!!!" No more will CU football fail to show up for a road game or lay down when things get tough. This team may lose some games, but the other team will feel some PAIN and know that the Buffs went down swinging.
To start the camp preview, let's start with the offense. And if we're going to start with the offense with the new hard nosed Buffs, it has to start up front with the Offensive Line.
This group is led by David "Get on My" Bakhtiari. The Outland Award candidate is poised for a dominating season in his third year as a starter at LT. Embree describes his play as "mean" and that's what we will get from the soft spoken mauler and technician.
Remember that lightly recruited freshman?
Here's what he looks like today:
Get your popcorn out, because he's going to be wrecking people on his way to joining his brother in the NFL.
With him on the 2012 Buffs OL are returning starters Gus "Meet the Back of My" Handler and Jack "You Up" Harris. Both of these juniors are ready to dominate. Gus has a season as the starting Center under his belt and RT Harris comes back 100% from injuries to fulfill his promise as one of the highest-rated Colorado prep OLs of the 21st century.
The other two starters are expected to be LG Alex "Train Wrecks" Lewis and RG Daniel "Word to Your" Munyer, who both saw significant game action in 2011. Lewis brings All-Big 8 and NFL pedigree from his father and the athleticism that allowed him to be a short-yardage Tight End last season. Munyer has been described by coaches as having the most upside of the entire group, with a rare blend of athleticism and raw power.
These 5 will lead the stampede in 2012.
Next, we turn to Tight Ends and Fullbacks since they are an extension of the OL and set the tone for smashmouth football.
Senior Nick "Not in Mi" Kasa shifted from the DL to the TE position last season. A physical specimen at 6'6" 260lbs who anchored his high school's 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams and was one of the top DE prospects in the nation, Kasa will be like an extra OL who can also outrun most LBs. Joining Kasa are a host of new faces who will be getting their first game action in 2012, but bring a level of athleticism not seen at CU since the days of John Mackey award winner Daniel Graham.
Fullback will also see a new starter. In fact, this is a two-headed monster. First up is heralded freshmen Clay "Walk Hard" Norgard (Rivals #4 FB). Norgard is a pure football player who has a CU and NFL pedigree from his father. He's a tough athlete who will overcome whatever and whomever is put in his way as he creates his own Buff legend.
Christian "First Comes The" Powell is the second part of this freshman duo. Powell (247sports #3 FB) could have gone to any college that uses a fullback and even some that don't but wanted him as a DT. In short, he plays angry and puts people on the ground. Not only is Powell violent, he's also skilled enough to be a "move" TE who can be a weapon with the ball in his hands.
Running behind this Gold Crush will be Tony "You Can't Keep Up With This" Jones. The former Gatorade Player of the Year for the Nation's #1 ranked high school program, Jones seized the opportunity to start the final game of his freshman season by responding with 6 yards per carry in leading the way to the Buffs ending Utah's dreams of a P12 South championship. The road monkey that died that day can rot in hell - **** resting in peace.
Jones will carry the load, but will be pushed and spelled by a talented stable of young RBs that bring a mix of speed, power, size and talent that CU hasn't enjoyed since Brown and Purify ran through the Big 12 on the way to a conference championship in 2001.
Next, we turn to Wide Receiver. Big targets and playmakers. On the outside, a return from injury is hoped for this season by Paul "Playmaker" Richardson who single-handedly destroyed Cal's highly-regarded secondary last season. The #2 WR, expected to play a huge role this year, is RS-FR Nelson "Insert Your Favorite Tree Pun" Spruce, who reminds camp observers of current Jet and all-time leading CU receiver Scotty McKnight (only bigger and faster). Spruce set season and career receiving records as a prep on his way to high school All-American honors.
Joining Spruce will be returning WRs Tyler "High Flyer" McCulloch (So) and Keenan "Like Taking" Canty (So), who both gained starting experience in 2011. McCulloch is a 6'5" red zone target and Canty is a jitterbug who will mostly work out of the slot. They are joined by the Texas Terrors, Gerald Thomas and Jeff Thomas. Jeff is a big WR with speed to stretch the field who is also a technician who will make plays in traffic. Gerald is a speed merchant who will turn a short pass into a game of Tecmo Bowl.
Wide Receiver isn't considered by most pundits as a team strength. They can suck it. This group is going to shred defenses in 2012.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Quarterback position and the key position battle for Fall Camp. Returning from 2011, we have Nick "Turn the Trick" Hirschman (So) who stole the show at the 2011 spring game with his penchant for big plays and earned one start during the season. Hirschmann is a pocket passer with a high football IQ.
Battling Hirschman is Connor "My Play Will Give You" Wood, a former Army All-American who transferred from the Longhorns at the start of last season. Wood brings sub 4.6 speed, a big arm, leadership intangibles and pretty much the whole package coaches look for in a QB. He was QB1 during Spring Camp and got an enormous number of snaps while Hirschman was down with a foot injury. If the offense, reads and decision-making maturity come together, he has the ability to be special.
Joining that mix this summer were Jayhawk transfer (Jr) Jordan "Spin The" Webb and (Fr) Shane "Don't Call Me Bob" Dillon. [Sorry. I'm getting tired. These last few nicknames sucked.] Webb started 19 games the past two seasons at KU and completed about 65% of his passes while demonstrating scrambling ability (he had to, with that OL) in 2011. He had been hand-picked by Mark Mangino as the heir apparent to Todd Reesing. And if there's one thing that Mangino knows almost as well as pork products, it's quarterbacks.
Dillon, a 4* Elite 11 prep QB, is the most heralded freshman Quarterback to sign with CU in over a decade. Is his time now or will the Folsom Faithful have to wait for the Dillon Era to begin?
This QB battle is much more about who seizes ownership of leading the team than it is about talent. The talent level is higher than it has been in a long time. Any one of the 4 has the tools to win in the Pac-12. What we need to find is our Field General.
And this concludes Part I. Look for Part II: Defense & Special Teams as soon as I find the motivation to type another 10,000 words.
"Bowling in 2012!!!"