Rivals Colorado Top 15 announced, with five offensive lineman in top eight spots
It's a good year to be in need of offensive linemen.
The University of Colorado will lose three starters from its offensive line after the 2011 season: Ryan Miller, Ethan Adkins, and Mike Iltis. The Buffs will also lose contributors Blake Behrens, Shawn Daniels and Sione Tau. Throw in walk-on senior David Clark, and this season the Buffs will be losing–quite literally–a ton of talent.
The good news is that potential help exists right in the Buffs' back yard.
Five of the top eight players in the Rivals Colorado Top 15 Spring rankings are offensive linemen and it should come as no surprise that Colorado has extended scholarship offers to all five.
So, what are the Buffs' chances at landing some of these linemen?
Let's take a look:
#1 Paul Thurston–6'5", 274-pounds, Arvada West. Rated as the No. 19 offensive tackle in the nation by Scout, Thurston has offers from all over the country, including half of the Pac-12, along with schools like Nebraska, Michigan and Notre Dame. Thurston spent last weekend in Lincoln with the Cornhuskers and came away impressed.
"It was great. I enjoyed it," Thurston told HuskerOnline.com. "I got to talk with coach (Barney) Cotton, and do some one-on-one time with coach Bo Pelini, and I talked to some of the other coaches too. They told me what their view is of me and how they see me fitting into their program, and they asked me if I had any questions. Coach Cotton said he sees me as a (offensive) tackle or guard...I thought they did real good (in the Spring game), and they played a type of offense I can see myself playing in. I liked the whole thing...The facilities are just state of the art. You can tell they've put a lot of time and money into it."
Thurston was in Boulder for spring practices and has this to say about the Buffs: "It was interesting to see how everything is coming together with the team," Thurston told BuffStampede.com. "I also went up there to see one of their first spring practices so I have had a good chance to see how their offensive line is developing under the new coaches. They practice with a lot of intensity so that is good."
Before making a decision, Thurston has other trips planned. "My next visit is in two weeks when I head out to Oregon," said Thurston. "The following week, I head out to Michigan, and then I'll probably swing down to Notre Dame at the same time. There maybe a couple other trips as well."
Thurston is expected to announce his decision this summer.
#3 Shane Callahan–6'6", 277-pounds, Parker (Chaparral). Rated as the No. 23 offensive tackle in the nation by Scout, Callahan also has offers from all over the country, including Utah, Notre Dame, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Oregon and USC. Callahan also has an offer from defending national champion Auburn and took a trip to the Plains this past weekend. "They are definitely at the top of my list," Callahan told AuburnSports.com after his visit. "I went down and visited and really enjoyed it. I really like coach Grimes, the coaches, the town, I liked everything. They are up there. I wouldn't say I have a leader, but they are up there." Despite the distance from Colorado to Auburn, Callahan insists that travel will not play a part in his decision. "It was at first, but now as I get into it it is less of a factor," Callahan said. "My parents will support me wherever I go, it will work out great no matter."
A month ago, Colorado, which offered Callahan last summer when he was a sophomore, impressed Callahan. "They restated that I am their No. 1 priority and that they want me to be a big part of their program," Callahan told BuffStampede.com in March. "It was great talking to them and they are definitely at the top of my list."
Callahan has already visited Michigan and Notre Dame and will visit USC this weekend. As to a commitment, it may come sooner than later. Callahan said he would like to make a decision this summer, but is not opposed to making a decision earlier if he feels it is the right one. "I definitely could," Callahan said about a spring decision. "When I feel like I can make a decision, I'll make it."
#5 Alex Kozan–6'4", 280-pounds, Castle Rock (Valor Christian). Rated as the No. 27 guard prospect in the nation by Scout, Kozan has offers from over a dozen schools, including both Arizona schools, both Kansas schools, Arkansas, Illinois and Iowa. "So far I have visited Colorado, Colorado State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Northwestern, Nebraska, Kansas and Kansas State," Kozan told BuffStampede.com. "I am just trying to get a better feel for the schools. That is why I have been taking so many trips. Before I visit the schools, it is just a logo in my head and a voice on the phone from their coach. I think the best way to find out if a school is a good fit for you is to get to know a coach in person and see what they are all about."
As for the Buffs, Kozan was in Boulder for the Spring game. "It was great to see the students on campus and even though it was just an intrasquad scrimmage, Boulder had a game day like atmosphere last Saturday so it was a cool deal," Kozan said. "The fans there brought a lot of excitement to it. Some of them were calling me out by name, which was pretty impressive given that I had never met them before. I found that to be kind of cool. I talked to [Colorado head] coach [Jon] Embree, [offensive line] coach [Steve] Marshall and [offensive coordinator and running backs] coach [Eric] Bieniemy. They have put a strong emphasis on trying to get the in-state kids. They talked all of us and told us that we can be the base of the program and help get CU back on top."
Kozan said his goal is to have his list of schools down to five by July, then take a second visit to those schools. "I am thinking late summer, probably in August, is when I am looking at making my decision," said Kozan.
#7 Joey O'Conner–6'4", 278-pounds, Windsor. Rated as the No. 55 offensive tackle prospect in the nation by Scout, O'Conner only has five offers to date, but based upon the schools who have extended offers - Colorado, Penn State, Utah, Colorado State, and South Carolina–that total is sure to grow. "Michigan is supposed to come out here next month, so we'll take it from there," O'Conner told BlueWhiteIllustrated.com. "I haven't talked to them about an offer yet, but we'll see how that goes after they come here. I went to Nebraska last season for an unofficial visit. They've still been sending me letters and stuff, but not as intense or as much as the other schools lately."
As for the Buffs? "I really like how dedicated the new coaches are to bringing back traditions and trying to turn the program around," O'Conner told BuffStampede.com. "I also like that they are going to try to be smash-mouth," he said. "They told me (at the Spring game) that they are going to focus on getting the Colorado guys before they go out of state. They asked, 'Why not go to a program that is an hour away from your house and be part of the group that helps turn it around?'"
Right now, O'Conner isn't listing any favorites. "I played hockey forever, so I really wasn't into college football," said O'Conner. "I didn't grow up with a favorite team or anything. Everyone is equal right now, I'm keeping all my options open."
#8 Arthur Flores - 6'6", 295-pounds, Aurora (Mullen). Not rated by Scout amongst its top 100 offensive tackles, Flores currently has offers from Colorado, Boise State, Utah, Colorado State, Vanderbilt and UCF. "I thought it was really cool to get a few offers," Flores told Rivals.com. "It's kind of a relief and I'm excited to start visiting some college and going to camps and looking at facilities and getting to know the coaches. I want to get other schools to talk to me and then I'll probably just pick a couple schools and narrow them down and then pick the best one I can attend." Flores' dream school is Penn State, but the Nittany Lions have yet to offer. "Penn State has always been up there because they've been my favorite team growing up," Flores said. "We've talked a little bit but not as much as the other schools."
Flores visited Boulder with his teammate–and No. 2 overall Colorado prospect–quarterback Cyler Miles for the Spring game. "We went up to CU for the second half of their Junior Day and then watched their spring game" Flores told BuffStampede.com. "We didn't go on the full campus tour but got to see their facilities, which are really nice. And their coaches are great. The offensive line coach (Steve Marshall) is a really cool guy. I really like CU. It is a nice campus, it is close to home and the academics are good, too."
Flores may not commit until late summer, or even this fall. "I still want to see all my options before I decide," Flores added. "I think the latest I would commit would be during the season. But I would like to commit before then so I don't have recruiting running through my mind during games."
Here are the remaining members of the Rivals Colorado Top 15:
No. 2 - Cyler Miles–quarterback (has a CU offer; see story, below)
No. 4 - Evan Baylis–tight end (has a CU offer)
No. 6 - Clay Norgard–defensive end (CU commit)
No. 9 - Tyler Henington–defensive tackle (CU commit)
No. 10–Kevin Davis–linebacker–\(does not currently have an offer from CU)
No. 11–Zach Jones - tight end - (does not currently have an offer from CU)
No. 12–Jordon Vaden - wide receiver - (does not currently have an offer from CU)
No. 13–Max McCaffrey - wide receiver - (does not currently have an offer from CU)
No. 14–Michael Mann - defensive end - (does not currently have an offer from CU)
No. 15–Austin Hendrickson - offensive lineman - (does not currently have an offer from CU)
Article originally published at www.cuatthegame.com