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Recruiting Prospects – 2012 (May/June)

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    By Stuart

    *
    June 30th
    California wide receiver in Boulder
    Cameron Countryman,*a 5’11 1/2″, 170-pound wide receiver prospect, from Beverly Hills, California, was in Boulder on Wednesday.
    Countryman is considered a two-star prospect by Scout.com, and is not yet rated by Rivals. Countryman averaged 25.7 yards per reception and 102.7 receiving yards per game in 2010. Countryman has offers from Utah and Arizona State from the Pac-12, as well as schools like Air Force, Princeton, Harvard, and Northwestern (obviously, not an eligibility risk). YouTube highlights
    “I love Colorado,” Countryman told BuffStampede.com last week. “[Buffaloes offensive coordinator and running backs] coach [Eric] Bieniemy has been recruiting me and he is making it hard to say no to go there. We are talking on the phone constantly every week. He is a great guy. I don’t feel like he is saying the same thing to 100 different kids. I feel like we have a bond and a connection and I appreciate all the time he has given to talk to me.”
    Still, Countryman might go to another Pac-12 school if he gets an offer. “Hopefully Cal will offer soon, too,” he said. “I am praying for a Cal offer because I went up there about two weeks ago and I loved it. I have been in contact with [Golden Bears assistant head coach and run game coordinator] coach [Ron] Gould and [wide receivers] coach [Eric] Kiesau so we’ll see.”
    While Countryman has been making the rounds this spring, he is in no hurry to make a decision. “I’m going to make a decision later [in the process]“, Countryman told UteZone.com. I” think that it’s important that I focus on the team and the upcoming season first off. The team is my main priority right now. Once all that’s done, I’ll put all my offers on the table and decide,” he explained.
    June 29th
    Joey O’Conner commits to Penn State
    “And another one’s gone …”
    Joey O’Conner, considered by Rivals to be the fourth-best recruit in the state of Colorado this year, has committed to Penn State.
    “I got back from Penn State on Sunday and have been working in Denver,”*O’Connor told BlueWhiteIllustrated. “So my family came down last night for dinner and we talked about it and they told me that if that’s where I want to go, then they’ll fully support that.”
    While yet another loss of yet another top in-state recruit is hard to take, the reality is that Colorado was never really high on O’Conner’s list. For most of the spring, he indicated that he was hoping for an offer from Penn State, and when it came, the Nittany Lions became his first choice. “Right now, I would have to say Penn State is the one school standing out the most,” O’Conner said in May. “I love their tradition, I love their program and I love the way they do things. I don’t want to say I have any favorites right now because I have to check out some places first, but if I were to have a favorite, they would be it.”
    O’Conner had a number of offers from BCS schools, including at least half of the schools in the Pac-12. Small consolation … at least he will not be lining up in opposition to the Buffs, like Cyler Miles (Washington) and Evan Bayliss (Oregon).
    June 26th
    Tough to be a Buff this June …
    “And then, depression set in …” – John Winger (Bill Murray), Stripes (1981)
    Okay, it has been a lousy week for Colorado football recruiting.
    Top recruits this week chose other schools over the Buffs. Tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick gave a verbal commitment to USC, while another tight end recruit, Christo Kourtzidis decided to go with Florida State. Wide receivers Kodi Whitfield and Conner Crane both*said “yes” to Stanford. Another wide receiver/athlete considering Colorado, Albert Reid, indicated he wanted to play for West Virginia.
    And then there was the major blow – Arvada West offensive lineman Paul Thurston giving his verbal commitment to Nebraska.
    Losing the No. 1 in-state recruit was bad enough, but to Nebraska??
    Ouch.
    Thurston now joins the other two top in-state prospects – quarterback Cyler Miles (Washington) and offensive lineman Shane Callahan (Auburn) -*who have decided to leave their home state and flagship school.
    To make matters worse, the recruits the Buffs have received commitments from this month, wide receiver Jeffrey Thomas and running back Terrence Crowder, are not exactly high profile selections. Crowder’s offer sheet included the likes of North Texas, Memphis, Tennessee State, Utah State and Wyoming, while Crowder was being courted*by North Texas, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Texas-San Antonio. Until he gave his verbal commitment to Colorado, Crowder was not even showing up in Scout.com’s*database of recruits.
    Not exactly the pitched battles for five-star talent Buff fans envisioned when recruiting stars Embree, Bieniemy, Brown, Brookhart and Kennedy signed on.
    So, time to push the panic button?
    Nah.
    First, it’s June. A great deal can – and will – transpire in the next seven months. A verbal commitment means nothing. Until a player faxes in his*Letter of Intent to the athletic department office of his choice on the first Wednesday of February, it’s all subject to change. Colorado coaches “flipped” seven recruits last January, and, with a successful campaign in 2011 (with “successful” being a relative term), the new coaching staff can still work wonders this fall and winter.
    Second, it’s unrealistic to expect Colorado coaches to work their magic on players who have not seen Colorado post a winning record since they were in grade school. Buff fans fondly remember the glory days of Colorado football, but to a 17-year old, CU history means almost nothing. In all time wins, Colorado ranks 19th nationally. In the Pac-12, only USC (10th on the list) ranks higher. In terms of all-time winning percentage, Colorado comes in at No. 24, behind only USC (9th), Washington (20th) and Arizona State (22nd).
    Big Deal. The last time Colorado played a game of national title significance, the recruits*Buff fans long to see wearing black-and-gold*were seven years old. Seven! A blue-chip prospect will naturally be attracted to a winning program, and Colorado doesn’t have one. It will take time to change perceptions about the Colorado football.
    Third,*there are the amenities. Oregon has more flat screen televisions per capita in their players’ lounge than the Waldorf-Astoria has in its entire hotel.*Nebraska’s weight room is the size of a Wal-Mart Super Store. USC, despite the sanctions, is still USC. Until the Trojans’ 15-recruit limit is met each year over the next three years, a scholarship offer from USC will still be worth its weight in cardinal and gold.
    The new Pac-12 contract money will certainly help, but Colorado will be playing catch-up from lost revenue from last year (not a full cut from the Big 12) and this year (not a full cut from the Pac-12) for several years to come. Colorado will be on a more level playing field with its competitors soon, but not for a few more years.
    Finally, the Colorado coaches are not faring that poorly, all things considered.
    True, only quarterback Shane Dillon is considered a four-star recruit amongst the five players who have committed to CU to date. Still, having five on the list at all*is an improvement over the Dan Hawkins’ era. Only once during Hawkins’ five year tenure, in 2007, did Colorado have five verbal commitments in June. The June, 2007, verbal commitment list -*defensive back Anthony Perkins; defensive back Lamont Smith; quarterback Matt Ballenger; offensive lineman Shawn Daniels; and linebacker Tyler Ahles – has netted the Buffs only one starter, in safety Anthony Perkins (unless you wish to consider Tyler Ahles a starting fullback, where he moved to this off-season). The five 2007 recruits consisted of three three-star recruits and two-star recruits, while the five 2012 recruits consist of a four-star recruit, three three-star recruits, and a two-star recruit.
    Not great, but still a step up.
    Is it*a concern that Colorado has targeted tight ends with this recruiting class, and the top four prospects have all decided to sign elsewhere? Yes.
    Is is uncomfortable that the Buffs are in dire need of an influx of offensive linemen (seven seniors), that the state of Colorado is flush with offensive linemen (four of the top five in Rivals list of in-state prospects are offensive linemen this year), and yet the Buffs can’t get a commitment from an offensive lineman? Yes.
    Is it disconcerting that some of the recruits the Buffs are getting commitments from are not considered high priorities by other BCS schools? Yes.
    That’s the reality of Colorado football, 2011.*It the reality of recruiting news with which Buff fans have*had to deal with*this week.
    Unfortunately, with the impossibly tough schedule the Buffs face this fall, it may be the reality of Colorado football for some time to come.
    But, if you have come this far with the Buffs, just hang tough with the Buffs a little while longer.
    It’s about to get good again …
    *
    June 24th
    No. 1 in-state prospect chooses Nebraska
    The dominos continue to fall … and none are landing in Boulder.
    Offensive lineman Paul Thurston, a 6’5″ prospect from Arvada West, has committed to play for Nebraska. “I think going out there for the second time really helped me, I was able to see some more stuff, see the campus, I was able to talk with the journalism guys again. Just overall, the whole package is what helped me out,” Thurston told HuskerOnline.com.
    “I think just going to a great program like that, they have a long tradition going on there, so I think I’m excited to go there and be part of that,” Thurston said. “I think just playing guard, coach Peilni said I’m going to be pulling, and that’s something I like doing – I love to do that, lock up on linebackers making holes and help Nebraska get another national championship.”
    With Thurston’s commitment, the top three prospects from the state of Colorado have now all committed to play elsewhere. The No. 2 prospect, quarterback Cyler Miles, has given a verbal commitment to Washington, while No. 3 prospect, offensive lineman Shane Callahan, has indicated he will sign with Auburn.
    Sigh.
    The end of the world? No. Thurston could still change his mind.*If Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini winds up as the new head coach at Ohio State at the end of the season, and/or Colorado surprises the Pac-12 with a dominant rushing attack, Thurston could still be persuaded to wear the black-and-gold come next February.
    But*a trend does appear to be forming … Colorado coaches are impressing high profile recruits, but if they are to get those players to commit to play for the Buffs, CU will have to turn things around on the playing field, and start posting winning seasons again.
    *
    June 23rd
    Another tight end chooses not to become a Buff …
    Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, (unofficial visit to Boulder last weekend, story below), has committed to USC. “It seemed like they were going to offer me yesterday after the camp,” Cope-Fitzpatrick told USCFootball.com. “I called my mom and we talked about it. If they offered, what would I do? She told me that I needed to go with my heart. If I felt USC was the right place for me after the camp, then go with it. I pretty much came down here for an offer. Then the camp was over today, the coaches let me know that it was a done deal – that they were offering me. I committed right away.”
    Cope-Fitzpatrick is the fourth top-20 tight end offered by Colorado who has turned down Colorado. The others include: Christo Kourtzidis (committed to Florida State); Evan Baylis (from Aurora – committed to Oregon); and Taylor McNamera (committed to Arizona.
    Back in May, Colorado head coach Jon Embree indicated that he wanted “2-3 tight ends from the Class of 2012″. The top recruits are now committed.
    Next for the Buffs? Caleb Smith, from Kent, Washington, and Sean Irwin, from Cypress, Texas, are the highest rated tight ends on the board still carrying CU offers.
    Hope springs eternal …
    (From June 19th update): Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, the nation’s fourth-ranked tight end, was in Boulder Friday. “We didn’t have the money to spend the night and attend the camp on Saturday,” Cope-Fitzpatrick explained. Cope-Fitzpatrick, from Rocklin, California, is considered a four-star prospect, and has offers from ten BCS schools, including seven Pac-12 schools, Miami, Nebraska, and Iowa State. “It is a very beautiful place,” Cope-Fitzpatrick told BuffStampede.com. “Colorado has as nice a setting as any college in the country and the weather also surprised me. I thought it was going to be cold but it was nice. It was right around 70 degrees and sunny all day. The atmosphere is awesome. How determined their coaches are to getting Colorado back to being the program that was really successful also stood out to me. And their academics stood out. I met with an academic advisor and he told me about the programs that they offer at Colorado.”
    Cope-Fitzpatrick has accepted an invitation to attend NIKE Elite Week at NIKE’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., in July. He plans to narrow his list of colleges down after that event. “I am looking to have it narrowed down to around five or six,” Cope-Fitzpatrick said. “I’ll probably have it cut to five so that I can line up official visits with those colleges. I don’t have any favorites at the moment. I just want to see what is going to develop during this last little period of evaluation. After all the camps, I should have a pretty clear understanding where I stand with some different schools.” (Best bet: if USC offers, Cope-Fitzpatrick will accept. If the Trojans don’t have room on their limited offer sheet, then the Buffs have a shot).
    June 22nd
    Buffs in need of some good news
    Colorado has two commits from the list of top players from the state of Colorado.
    But that number might not go any higher …
    The Rivals Top Ten Colorado*Prospects:
    1. Paul Thurston – OL – Arvada West
    2. Cyler Miles – QB – Mullen – committed to Washington
    3. Shane Callahan – OL – Parker – committed to Auburn
    4. Joey O’Conner – OL – Windsor
    5. Alex Kozan – OL – Castle Rock
    6. Evan Baylis – TE – Aurora – committed to Oregon
    7. Clay Norgard – LB – Highlands Ranch – committed to Colorado
    8. Steve Donatell – QB – Highlands Ranch
    9. Tyler Henington – DT – Mullen – committed to Colorado
    10. Ken Davis – LB – Fountain
    11. Arthur Flores – OL – Mullen
    Okay, so I put in the top 11 – because the Buffs are recruiting Flores.
    Colorado has not offered Donatell and Davis, so it is safe to say that, if Colorado is to make any more waves out of the Class of 2012 in the state of Colorado, it will be coming from a commitment from an offensive lineman.
    So, let’s take a look at how the uncommitted linemen are doing …
    1. Paul Thurston – OL – Arvada West … It’s not looking good for the home team. Thurston just got back from a second trip to Nebraska, and the Cornhuskers are looking like the favorites. “He’ll hopefully make a decision in the next week,” Thurston’s father told HuskerOnline.com about Paul’s future commitment. “He’s narrowed it down. We wouldn’t have visited the schools he visited if they weren’t on his higher list. I couldn’t speak for him as to who his top ones are. Obviously, Oregon is a big pull for him, Michigan is a big pull for him, and Nebraska is a big pull – so is Notre Dame. Those are the ones we visited.” According to a report on 24/7 Sports, Thurston has narrowed his choices down to a final three – Oregon, Michigan, and Nebraska – and that Thurston’s decision will be announced this Friday.
    4. Joey O’Conner – OL – Windsor … O’Conner is heading out this weekend for an unofficial visit to Penn State, and he is taking his Windsor head coach Chris Jones along for the ride. Jones had a lot to say about several schools, though none started with the letter “C” … “He went to the Utah camp last week, after we ended our two-week spring football camp”, Jones told BlueWhiteIllustrated.com. “He was really impressed by the coaching he got at Utah, the way they delivered the message to him. He really liked their coaches, he got to work with*Norm Chow a lot and Tim Davis,*their O-Line coach, was with Joey the whole time. He really enjoyed that experience. Boise State has been hot and heavy, they’ve been really hot and heavy the past few weeks. I know they said they want to offer. UCLA has been high up there because Rick Neuheisel has done everything he can to stay in contact with Joey. When the head coach calls you, that plays a big role.”
    5. Alex Kozan – OL – Castle Rock … Kozan is also turning his attention east. Next weekend, he is taking a grand tour, starting at South Carolina. “I’m going out July 1,” Kozan told Gamecock.Central.com. “I’m driving out and am going to see some other schools. South Carolina, LSU, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, and North Carolina, too.” After Kozan takes his trips, he plans on taking his time digesting the new information. “You know, right now I’m interested in pretty much every school that’s offered me,” he said. “I’m trying to get out and see those schools and see if it’s a good fit for me. It’s hard to say, especially when schools are far away because when you look at them it’s just a logo. You have to visit and see the campus, meet the coaches, that kind of stuff. That’s what I’m trying to do in the next month and then narrow it down to five or seven.” After narrowing his list, Kozan hopes to make a decision before the year is over. “I’m looking at making a decision in October. That’s when I think will be the best time for me. I want to take a couple of official visits and see what it’s like on game day and see some great games. By then, I’ll have a good idea of where I want to go.”
    11. Arthur Flores – OL – Mullen … Flores has offers from a number of schools, including Boise State, San Diego State, Utah, UCF, Vanderbilt, and Wyoming. Flores reportedly has a top three – Colorado; San Diego State, and Utah. But … that could change if Flores were to receive an offer from Washington or Penn State. “If I got offers from (Washington or Penn State) it would be a hard decision,” Flores told Rivals.com. “I’m not sure where I’d commit right now but it would be tough to tell.” What is Flores looking for? “I just want to be comfortable with the coaches, see how the players are, I want to look at the depth chart and see how the school is with academics as well,” Flores said. “I want to see all that before I decide.”
    So … four uncommitted offensive linemen left in the Top 11 in-state players.
    Colorado will*lose seven offensive lineman after the 2011 campaign, and is desperate need of new offensive line talent.
    But the Buffs are not getting much love from the in-state talent …
    … at least not yet.
    *
    June 19th
    Summer Camps bring prospects to Boulder
    Colorado has conducted several summer camps already, with their second skills camp this past Friday, and a Saturday Night Lights camp conducted in Folsom Field. The Saturday Night Lights participants were tested in the 40-yard dash, agility drills, seven-on-seven*drills, and one-on-one drills.
    The camps are not usually filed with top prospects. The reasons:*the top recruits already have offers from Colorado, and do not need to prove themselves; many recruits can’t pay their own way to travel to Boulder, limiting the number of participants; and there are just not a large number of top prospects within the state’s borders to fill up the camp rosters.
    A number of prospects who did make the trip were part of a group which traveled as part of the Barton Football Academy, based out of Issaquah, Washington. Some of the players who attended picked up offers.
    Included on that list was tight end Caleb Smith from Renton, Washington. A three-star prospect, Smith has offers from 11 schools, including Washington, Oregon State, Washington State and UCLA. At 6’7″, 248-pounds, has indictated that he will take official visits this fall to Oregon State, Colorado, and Purdue. “I’m going to stick to my original timeline which was (to announce) after the season because I want to take all of my official visits,” Smith told Dawgman.com this past week.
    Wide receiver Jamarr Graves is still trying to get noticed. To date, the 6’4″, 190-pound prospect only has offers from Colorado and Portland State. “If you live in Oregon and you don’t really put yourself out there, nobody is going to really look that hard for you,”*Graves told BuffStampede.com in May. “So I have kind of put my name out there and it is starting to pay off.”
    “Colorado said they like my size and my ability to catch the ball in the air. They said they are looking for bigger receivers for their offense.*I haven’t done a lot of research on Colorado but I know they have a new coaching staff. From what I have seen and heard so far from them, I like it.”
    Another receiver who was in Boulder was Trent Sewell, from Bothell, Washington. Considered a three-star prospect, Sewell has nonetheless to date only has two offers – from Washington State and UCLA. Still, according to Sewell’s father,*Washington State, Cal, Utah, Colorado, UCLA, and Stanford were the*six teams*reported as being at the top of Sewell’s list.
    One player Buff fans have been keeping an eye on is linebacker Jake Schany. A three-star prospect from Blair, Nebraska, Schany has liked Colorado from the start. Schany has offers from schools as divergent as Columbia, Ohio, North Dakota and Tulane, and was in Boulder this past weekend. “I am going to camps at Iowa State, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Stanford this summer. There might be a few other colleges that I camp at in between those, but as of right now, those are the camps I have planned to go to,” Schany told BuffStampede.com last month.
    “The schools that I plan to camp at, that haven’t offered, have all said they really like me on film but they want to see me in person at their camp. If I do well there and they like what they see, they said they are going to offer. So I am hoping to get a few more offers after the camps, but we’ll see. I haven’t narrowed down my list yet but I am hoping to know more about that after I go to all the camps this summer. I am probably looking to make a decision shortly after that, so maybe late June or early June, definitely before my senior season. But right now it is kind of wide open.” Schany has indicated that he wants to make his choice of schools known by the end of June, so stay tuned (Best bet: if Nebraska offers, Schany is gone. If not, Colorado might be Schany’s favorite).
    Unofficial visits …
    Two other prospects were in Boulder this past weekend, though not for the summer camps.
    Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, the nation’s fourth-ranked tight end, was in Boulder Friday. “We didn’t have the money to spend the night and attend the camp on Saturday,” Cope-Fitzpatrick explained. Cope-Fitzpatrick, from Rocklin, California, is considered a four-star prospect, and has offers from ten BCS schools, including seven Pac-12 schools, Miami, Nebraska, and Iowa State. “It is a very beautiful place,” Cope-Fitzpatrick told BuffStampede.com. “Colorado has as nice a setting as any college in the country and the weather also surprised me. I thought it was going to be cold but it was nice. It was right around 70 degrees and sunny all day. The atmosphere is awesome. How determined their coaches are to getting Colorado back to being the program that was really successful also stood out to me. And their academics stood out. I met with an academic advisor and he told me about the programs that they offer at Colorado.”
    Cope-Fitzpatrick has accepted an invitation to attend NIKE Elite Week at NIKE’s world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., in July. He plans to narrow his list of colleges down after that event. “I am looking to have it narrowed down to around five or six,” Cope-Fitzpatrick said. “I’ll probably have it cut to five so that I can line up official visits with those colleges. I don’t have any favorites at the moment. I just want to see what is going to develop during this last little period of evaluation. After all the camps, I should have a pretty clear understanding where I stand with some different schools.” (Best bet: if USC offers, Cope-Fitzpatrick will accept. If the Trojans don’t have room on their limited offer sheet, then the Buffs have a shot).

    Another quality recruit in town for an unofficial visit was offensive tackle Walker Williams. The 6’7″, 320-pound, three-star prospect from Tacoma, Washington, is considered by Rivals to be the 55th-best

    Originally posted by CU At the Game
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