Stoppin' by for a Visit

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Stoppin' by for a Visit

Stoppin’ by for a Visit

This weekend marks the first time new Colorado head coach Jon Embree will host prospective new Buffs for official visits.

While it is highly unlikely that the Buffs’ 2011 Class will be filled this weekend, there is the opportunity to add a few names to the five known verbal commitments. The weekend starts Friday afternoon and evening with a reception for recruits and their families at the club level of Folsom Field. Coaches, academic advisors, professors, and other members of the Boulder community will be on hand to answer any questions recruits or their parents may have about the university. Saturday will likely include attendance at the CU/Oklahoma State basketball game, which should have a great crowd. The weather should also cooperate, with highs in the 50’s.

Nothing left to do but convince these young men to join the Buff Nation for the next five years …

Here is a look at the known list of players who are taking offiical visits to Boulder this weekend:

Linebackers

Leilon Willingham

The Stats … Willingham is a 6′2″, 240-pound linebacker from Mullen High in Denver. He runs a 4.6 in the 40, and has a 3.00 GPA. Willingham is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals (three by Scout), the highest rated prospect coming out of the state of Colorado this year. Rivals considers Willingham to be the 11th-best outside linebacker prospect in the nation, while Scout considers Willingham the 69th-best linebacker.  Rivals bio Scout bio

The Status … Willingham committed to Texas A&M on December 29th. “Yes, I committed to Texas A&M,” Willingham told Aggie Websider on December 30th. “Even though I’m not visiting there until January, it just felt like the right decision for me … I want to play in a big-time conference in a big time defense. Von Miller is the best linebacker in the country because of (Texas A&M linebackers) coach DeRuyter. He won the Butkus award. I just saw myself playing for the Wrecking Crew.”

Still, Willingham is not quite done with his recruitment. Before Christmas, he took official visits to Washington and Arizona State. After visiting Boulder this weekend, Willingham will visit College Station next weekend, before taking his final visitation to Central Florida on January 28th. On January 6th, Willingham told ASUDevils.com, “I have a really good feeling about (my A&M commitment) right now, but I’m still looking to become even more sure if this is what I want to do.”

The Skinny … While it would be quite a coup for Jon Embree and his staff to land the No. 1 prospect in the state so late in the game, the odds of landing Willingham would have to be considered long. Jon Embree and Brian Cabral did an in-home visitation with Willingham last week, and convinced him to take an official visit. Still, Willingham is from Denver, so the Flatirons and Folsom Field are not new territory for the prized linebacker recruit. With Willingham visiting Texas A&M next weekend, it would take a very impressive pitch from the Colorado coaches to win him over.

Kellen Jones

The Stats … Jones is a 6′1, 210-pound linebacker from Houston, Texas. He runs a 4.6 in the 40, and has a 3.43 GPA. Jones is considered a four-star prospect by Scout (three by Rivals). Scout rates Jones as the 14th-best middle linebacker prospect in the nation, while Rivals sees Jones as the 28th-best inside linebacker.

The Status … Jones committed to Michigan last July 29th. In January, though, when Rich Rodriguez was fired, Jones began looking around. “You started hearing the ‘first time’ this has happened, then the ‘first time’ this has happened in the history of the school,” Jones told Scout.com on January 5th. “I got to thinking, all these firsts are not good … I want to be patient. I want to see what coach is going to be brought in, and see what my value is to him.” This past week, Jones’ father, Sean Jones told TheOldCoach.com, “I think it would have to be a really rare circumstance for Kellen not to be a Michigan Wolverine, but we have to be prepared.”

Jones has over 20 scholarship offers, mostly from BCS conference schools. In addition to Colorado, Jones may visit Miami and Arkansas. With Michigan missing out on Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles, instead going with Brady Hoke, there may still be an opening for another school.

The Skinny … “Right now, I’m a still a solid commit,” Jones told BuffStampede.com on January 11th. “It is not soft, it is solid.” Still, Jones was willing to see what Colorado had to offer. “I just really want to get to see the new coaching staff,” said Jones of Colorado. “One of their new coaches, coach McGhee, came out here just a week ago … I still have a good relationship with coach Cabral. I’m interested to see the different feel within the program … and see if it is right for me.”

Just my impression, but if Harbaugh or Miles had taken the Michigan job, I would say that the Buffs had no chance at Jones. Now, with Brady Hoke being named the next head coach, I’m not so sure …

Woodson Greer

The Stats … Greer is a 6′2, 215-pound linebacker from Gardena, California. He runs a 4.7 in the 40. Greer is considered to be a three star prospect by both rating services, and is rated as the 48th-best linebacker prospect in the nation by Rivals.

The Status … Unlike the majority of the recruits coming to Boulder this weekend, Greer has not yet made a commitment to any school. Greer has offers from Michigan, Arizona State, and San Jose State. Greer has already taken official visits to Arizona State (in December), and San Jose State (last weekend), and has no other reported official visits set up. “I’m pretty much content with Arizona State, Colorado, and San Jose State,” Greer told ASUDevils.com on January 6th. “I would say right now Arizona State is ahead only because I’ve already taken a trip there,” Greer said. “I want to take my other trips, and then see how I feel.”

The Skinny … If only due to the fact that he is the only linebacker candidate coming to Boulder January 14th who doesn’t already have a commitment elsewhere, Greer would seemingly be the best chance for the Buffs to land a verbal commitment this weekend. It also helps that Colorado has the last shot at Greer, as he has already taken his official visits to the other two finalists. Colorado fans could be talking a great deal more about Woodson Greer come this Sunday.

K.T. Tuumalo

The Stats … Tuumalo is 6′3, 210-pound linebacker from Honolulu, Hawai’i. He runs a 4.65 in the 40. Tuumalo is considered to be a three-star prospect by Rivals (two by Scout), and is rated the 119th-best outside linebacker in the nation by Scout. One of the “Hawai’i Four”, Tuumalo is rated as the fifth-best overall prospect coming out of Hawai’i this year.

The Status … Tuumalo committed to Boise State on December 26th. Tuumalo has offers from at least eight west coast schools, including four from the Pac-12. He took an official visit to Oregon State, Arizona State, and Boise State before making his decision. On January 9th, Tuumalo met with Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, and made an impression upon Tuumalo’s family. “They really enjoyed talking with Coach Petersen,” Tuumalo told BroncoCountry.com. “He came in, and wasn’t uptight at all. He’s just a really cool guy.”

The Skinny … The question here is not whether Tuumalo is going to change his commitment this weekend, it is whether he will be in Boulder at all. Tuumalo is still showing up on the official visit list at Rivals, but has been taken off the list at Scout.com. What Tuumalo reportedly told BroncoCountry.com may have something to do with that. “I won’t be taking that visit (to Colorado),” said Tuumalo. “I’m 100 percent committed to Boise State.” Tough to misinterpret those words. So don’t be surprised if there is no mention about Tuumalo in Boulder this weekend.

Defensive backs

Rashad Wadood

The Stats … Wadood is a 5′10″, 180-pound cornerback from Lakewood, California. He runs 4.49 in the 40. Wadood is considered to be a three-star prospect by both services, and is considered by Scout to be the 62nd-best cornerback prospect in the nation by Scout.com.

The Status … Wadood committed to Arizona State back on June 3rd. Wadood has offers from at least seven schools, including Arizona State, Colorado, Washington State, and Miami (Fla.). Wadood was solid with Arizona State all the way back to junior day last spring practice. “I’ve been talking about how much I like Arizona State since I’ve been there,” Wadood told DevilsDigest.com in June. “I just didn’t see any point in waiting, because I knew that’s where I wanted to go for sure, because that’s where I felt the most comfortable.”

And now? “I want to take what little time I have left with the recruiting process and enjoy it, see some new places, and make sure I made the right decision,” Wadood told BuffStampede.com this week. “I have heard good things about Colorado. I heard it is really beautiful out there … I know Colorado has a good tradition as a program. I am anxious to go and check it out, and see how Boulder is.” After visiting Boulder this weekend, Wadood will take an official visit to Miami next week.

The Skinny … Wadood would probably have to be considered a longshot for the Buffs this weekend. It sounds as if Wadood is one of those players who committed early, but has decided to take advantage of some travel opportunities. “I am committed to Arizona State still,” said Wadood. “(ASU) coach Erickson understands completely. He just said, ‘I know you are going to be a Sun Devil so go out and have fun. If this place is right for you, you’ll end up here. If you like somewhere else, I wish the best of luck to you.’ ”

Kameron Jackson

The Stats … Jackson is a 5′10, 175-pound cornerback from Long Beach, California. He runs a 4.45 in the 40. Jackson is considered to be a three-star prospect by both services, the 40th-best cornerback prospect in the nation by Rivals; the 41st-best cornerback by Scout.com.

The Status … Jackson committed to Washington back on April 6th. Jackson has offers from a number of schools, including Washington State, Cal, Utah, Boise State and Cincinnati. “It was the right time,” Jackson told Rivals.com last April. “I sat down and thought about it for awhile, and just decided to do it. The coaching staff is really cool, they’re all down to earth, and they’ve always been really cool with me.” Still, Jackson did take an official visit to Cal in December, and is coming to Boulder this weekend. No other official visits have been planned.

The Skinny … It’s hard to get a read on Jackson, who hasn’t spoken much since his commitment to the Huskies. All we seem to know for sure is that Colorado is part of the mix. “He has narrowed it down to those three: Washington; Cal; and Colorado,” Jackson’s high school coach, Raul Lara told BuffStampede.com. “So I would think that his trip to Colorado would be his last one.” Flatirons, do your thing …

Sherrard Harrington

The Stats … Harrington is a 6′1, 170-pound cornerback from Washington, D.C. He runs a 4.4 in the 40, and has a 3.97 GPA. Jackson is considered to be a three-star prospect by Rivals, but is unranked by Scout.com

The Status … Like linebacker Woodson Greer, Harrington comes to Boulder in unique status … he hasn’t committed to any school. Harrington has offers from only a handful of BCS conference schools, and it appears that Iowa will be Colorado’s major competition. Harrington had been scheduled to take an official visit to Iowa City last weekend, but that was called off, leading to speculation that Colorado was the front-runner for Harrington’s services. “That’s false,” Harrington told HawkeyeInsider.com when asked if he was no longer interested in Iowa. “I bounced my Iowa City visit back because it just works out better (for his schedule) … It wasn’t because of lost interest on my part or theirs. It’s more of a timing issue.”

The Skinny … Early this month, it appeared that Iowa had an edge on Colorado because Harrington wanted to enroll in college this spring, and Iowa started its spring calendar later than Colorado. Now, enrolling early doesn’t appear likely, so Harrington has removed that as a deal-breaker. “That’s fine with me,” said Harrington about waiting until summer to enroll. “It gives me more time with my family. I can graduate with the rest of my class, and finish school like a regular senior.”

Harrington had appeared to be the front-runner amongst potential recruits to commit to Colorado this weekend. However, with a trip to Iowa City now to come after his trip to Boulder, instead of before, Harrington may be reluctant to make a commitment until he has had the chance to take his second official visit.

Wide receiver

Jafus Gaines

The Stats … Gaines is a 6′1, 175-pound wide receiver from Houston, Texas. He runs a 4.5 in the 40. Gaines is considered to be a three-star prospect by both services, and is considered by Scout to be the 123rd-best wide receiver in the nation.

The Status … Gaines committed to Houston on November 5th. Gaines has offers from at least six schools, including Stanford, Arkansas, Baylor, and Memphis. His high school team switched to a run-oriented offense this past fall, significantly reducing Gaines’ numbers. After catching 79 passes for 1,634 yards as a sophomore and a junior, Gaines, collected only 29 receptions for 408 yards and six touchdowns this past fall. Still, despite the numbers, Gaines earned first-team all-district honors. Gaines likes the idea of playing for a spread offense for his hometown Cougars. “The opportunity to play in a spread offense is something that sold me on wanting to commit to Houston,” Gaines told BuffStampede.com this week. “I feel like that will fit me real well.” Still, Gaines is willing to give Colorado a look. “I have wanted to check out Colorado for awhile, just because I have never been there,” said Gaines. “I would like to see the team is like, and see what they are really all about.”

 The Skinny … The odd thing here is that, while Gaines spoke with Adam at BuffStampede.com on Tuesday, Rivals is not listing Gaines as being an official visitor this weekend. Meanwhile, Scout.com does have Gaines on the official visit list. So, for starters, it will be interesting to see if Gaines is even in town. Once we know that, it will be better to assess the Buffs’ chances of landing a wide receiver this weekend.

KNOWN VERBAL COMMITMENTS VISITING THIS WEEKEND …  

Meanwhile, two of the known visitors this weekend have already committed to Colorado. As with the other three known Buff verbal commitments, their story has been filed under “2011 Verbal Commitments”. In case you haven’t yet had the chance to read up on them, here are the writeups on wide receiver Nelson Spruce and offensive tackle Marc Mustoe:

Nelson Spruce – WR

Just the facts … Committed December 18th … Spruce is a wide receiver prospect from Westlake High school in Westlake Village, California. He is 6′2″, 195 pounds, and runs a 4.5 in the 40. Spruce has a 3.8 GPA.

What others say about Spruce … Nelson Spruce is considered to be a three-star prospect by both Rivals and Scout. Spruce is the 94th-best wide receiver prospect in the nation, according to Scout.com. In his senior year, Spruce had 73 receptions for 1,292 yards and 18 touchdowns. A two-way starter, Spruce was named his league’s Defensive back-of-the-year, with 31 tackles and three interceptions.

Spruce had other offers from … at least a dozen schools, including Washington State, Hawai’i, Air Force, Colorado State, and Northwestern. Spruce will take his official visit to Colorado January 14th. He had discussed taking an official visit to Hawai’i before he announced his commitment, but it is unclear as to whether Spruce will still take that visit. Spruce’s head coach, Jim Benkert, speculated that Spruce did not receive more BCS offers because Spruce played baseball this past summer, instead of going to summer camps. “He has been a three-year starter for us,” Benkert told BuffStampede.com. “He played safety, corner, inside and outside receiver … he returned punts, kicks, never left the field … We played 14 games this year, and he probably played past halftime in four games. So his numbers, not only are they impressive, but considering he didn’t play in the second half in probably ten of those games, that tells you how dynamic a player he is.”

In his own words … “I’ve been talking to Coach Embree a lot, and he seems like he has the program going in the right direction,” Spruce told Rivals.com when he committed, “so I wanted to be a part of it.” Being able to return to California to play also played a role. “That’s one of the many things that attracted me,” said Spruce. “I’ll be able to come back to California, so that was a big part of it.” Spruce has yet to make his official visit, but it looking forward to seeing Boulder on January 14th. “I just want to get a feel for how the players are and how the atmosphere of the school is,” said Spruce. “I have heard a lot of great things about Boulder, so I am sure that it will go well.”

Marc Mustoe – OT

Just the facts … Committed December 11th … Mustoe is an offensive line prospect from Arvada West High school in Arvada, Colorado. He is 6′7″, 273 pounds, and runs a 5.3 in the 40. Mustoe has a 4.0 GPA.

What others say about Mustoe … Marc Mustoe is considered to be a three-star prospect by both Rivals and Scout. Mustoe is ranked as the 5th-best overall prospect in the state of Colorado. Mustoe is ranked as the 55th-best offensive tackle in the nation by Rivals, and the 32nd-best offensive tackle by Scout.com.

Mustoe had other offers from … at least five other Pac-12 schools, including Cal, Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, and Utah. Mustoe also had offers from Louisville, Notre Dame, and Kansas State. Mustoe was an early commit to UCLA (June 23rd), but changed his commitment after Jon Embree was hired as the new head coach at Colorado.

In his own words … “I visited UCLA (on June 22nd), and got a chance to see the campus for the first time and it was awesome. I committed (that night),” said Mustoe last summer. “I told Coach (Bob) Palcic and Coach (Rick) Neuheisal, and they were pretty fired up … I was leaning to leaving Colorado, and going someplace out-of-state for school”. After meeting with Jon Embree, however, Mustoe changed his mind, and his commitment. Mustoe told PrepColorado.com that the “program at Colorado is looking up”, and that he wanted to be a part of it. Mustoe was particularly impressed with Embree. “He bleeds Colorado. He went to Cherry Creek, played at Colorado, was a coach at Colorado, and now he is the head coach … Coach Embree has a vision of making the program what it once was.”

 

Program Note … It is not unusual for teams to have players take their official visits without the reporting sites knowing that the players are coming. If and when it becomes known that there are more players other than those listed who are taking official visits, I will add them to the above list …

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