What to take from the 2010 Recruiting cycle
Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins opened his Signing Day press conference with an acknowledgement that he really had very little to add to the discussion about the 21-player class of 2010.
There were very few in the room, and indeed, on the internet, who were not already very familiar with the players Hawkins was sitting down to discuss. "Probably, in this day and age, every coach should just get up and say, 'well, what do you think?'" Hawkins said. "Pretty much everyone knows who you have."
It's true. We did know all about the Colorado class of 2010 before Dan Hawkins sat down around 3:30 p.m. Signing Day afternoon.
More's the pity.
There were few surprises for Colorado on Signing Day, 2010. Quarterback Munchie Legaux defected, but that was not completely unexpected. Legaux had been a "soft verbal" for two months, taking official visits to Arizona and Cincinnati before settling on the Bearcats on Wednesday.
Tight end Harold Mobley had not been an official verbal, but had been a "strong lean" to Colorado for several months. His choice came down to Colorado and Nevada (though for much of the fall, Mobley expressed interest in Nebraska and UCLA), with Mobley joining the Buffs on Wednesday morning.
With no real surprises amongst the 21 players (19 high school seniors, two junior college transfers), it was not unexpected that the Colorado national ranking did not rise from the mediocre perch it had been resting upon all fall. When the dust settled, Colorado was ranked 66th in the nation by Rivals.com, dead last amongst Big 12 teams. Over at Scout.com, the Buffs were tied for 68th place with Duke (DUKE !), but were at least ranked ahead of Iowa State and Kansas amongst Big 12 schools.
How to spin the worst recruiting class in recent memory?
It was hard to try and pretend that the Colorado class was encouraging for Buff fans, but Dan Hawkins, of course, had no choice but to try. Hawkins took the high road, talking about what great individuals these 21 young men were.
"What sticks out with this group is there's a tremendous amount of quality there," said Hawkins. "I'm very impressed with the kind of people they are." Hawkins even went so far as to say that these players "have a great twinkle in their eyes, great smiles, great handshakes."
Terrific. As one Denver television pundit put it, "Is Hawkins recruiting a glee club?"
The real question? Are these players who can compete in the Big 12? "This is a tremendously athletic class," said Hawkins. "Probably from top to bottom, it might be the most athletic class we've had from the standpoint of all those guys, most of them, play other positions."
This actually sounded good to me at the time. However, on Wednesday night, I was talking with my longtime best friend Brad (and fellow CU sufferer for over a quarter of a century), and he had a different spin.
Brad and I were watching the end of the Colorado/Kansas basketball game (kudos, by the way, to the men's team. I am not one for moral victories—and a loss to the No. 1 team in the nation, albeit in overtime, is still a loss—but there are definite signs of improvement over at the Coors Event Center), and I mentioned Hawkins' quote about having so many versatile players.
Brad pointed out, quite correctly, that the Oklahoma's and the Nebraska's of the college football world do not recruit players who can do well at numerous positions. They recruit players who are already outstanding at one position—and make them even better.
This is an unfortunate reality in Boulder. The Buffs, instead of making Ryan Miller a great tackle or guard, continue to shuffle him around the line. Nate Solder may be the best CU lineman next fall, and yet he is a converted tight end. Brian Lockridge is a running back, a slot wide receiver, and a kick returner. Zach Grossnickle missed all of three field goal attempts in high school, and will likely play this fall as a punter.
There are numerous examples of how Colorado has, over the last four seasons, had players who were or have become "jacks of all trades; masters of none."
Versatility is not necessarily a plus for the Colorado football team, but that was what was being preached as the exciting bonus with respect to the class of 2010.
The lowly national rankings could not be ignored, and Hawkins was ready when the question was asked. Hawkins was correct when he said that the recruiting rankings are not the final word.
"Does it mean something? Yeah," said Hawkins about his lowest-rated class to date (even his first class, which he had but a month to put together, was ranked 48th). "Does it mean everything? No, it really doesn't."
In the end, Hawkins is correct. If recruiting rankings were the be-all, end-all, then Colorado would never beat Nebraska or Oklahoma, and would never lose to Colorado State or Montana State.
Still, there is a strong correlation between success in February and success in September.
If he wants to keep his job past 2010, Hawkins will have to prove he can beat the odds.
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