Colorado Buffaloes: Recruiting the Defensive Line, Class of 2012
Colorado has five defensive linemen who will see their last games as Buffs this fall, including starters Curtis Cunningham and Josh Hartigan, along with everyone's breakout senior-to-be, Conrad Obi. Throw in the loss of Eugene Goree, spring star Tony Poremba and junior Forrest West (who has opted to transfer), and there is a definite need for more defensive linemen in the very near future.
Incoming freshmen Stephane Nembot and Juda Parker will help, but the class of 2012 will have to be good—and be good soon.
When asked about his recruiting priorities for the class of 2012, Colorado head coach Jon Embree stated he wanted "as many d-linemen as we can get or want to come."
So, how many defensive linemen want to come to Boulder?
Colorado does have commitments from defensive tackle Tyler Hennington from Mullen High in Denver and defensive end/inside linebacker Clay Norgard from Highlands Ranch. Hennington is considered to be a 3-star prospect according to Scout, the 60th-best defensive tackle in the nation. Norgard, meanwhile, is rated as a 3-star prospect by Scout, the 72nd-best defensive end in the country.
A good start, but who else is out there?
There are a number of high-profile defensive tackles out there holding offers from the University of Colorado, like Ellis McCarthy from Monrovia, California (5-star, No. 6 defensive tackle prospect nationally); Korren Kirven from Lynchburg, Virginia (4-star DT); and Tommy Schutt from Glen Ellyn, Illinois (4-star, No. 7 defensive tackle prospect nationally). Others include:
Aziz Shittu: 6'3", 275 lbs. from Atwater, California
Considered to be a 5-star prospect by Rivals, the 12th-best defensive tackle in the nation. Scout, meanwhile, ranks Shittu as the No. 6 defensive tackle in the country. Want to aim high? Hope for Shittu.
A Stanford commit since April, Shittu recently reopened his recruitment. "I want to leave no stones unturned," Shittu told Scout.com on June 2nd. He went on to say:
I told myself before the process I wanted to take my officials and go through the process. I don't think I gave everyone a fair chance to look at me. I want to see how everyone does this season, and see how the D-Lines do. Education is very important to me but so is the team...I'll make a top 10 in the next couple weeks, and talk to some coaches, and then I'll have my top 10 ready.
Colorado has offered, but has not been mentioned by Shittu of late...don't get your hopes up on this one.
David Deleon: 6'0", 270 lbs. from Bamberg, South Carolina
Considered to be a 3-star prospect by Scout, the 51st-best defensive tackle in the nation. Deleon has offers from over a dozen BCS schools, but only Texas Tech and Colorado from west of the Mississippi. Once again, Colorado is in the mix, but not a favorite. "Tennessee and Illinois would have to be my top two right now," Deleon told InsideTennessee.com on June 6th.
Justin Solis: 6'3", 287 lbs. from Westlake Village, California
Considered to be a 3-star prospect by Scout, the No. 55 defensive tackle in the nation is from the same town as 2011 CU wide receiver commit Nelson Spruce. Solis has offers from at least five Pac-12 schools, as well as schools like Boise State, Georgia Tech and Nevada.
In Solis, Colorado is very much in the discussion. In fact, Solis has Colorado ranked in the top two. "I like that UCLA is 35 minutes down the 101 and 405," Solis told BuffStampede.com. "With Colorado, I know they haven't been that great recently but I like what is going on there right now with [head] coach [Jon] Embree and their new coaching staff. I feel like they are turning that program around and it is going to be a top 10 or a top 25 program very soon. They are going to be on the rise."
Solis told eDuck.com the same thing: "I'm trying to figure out my top three or four right now, but the two schools that are definitely in it right now are UCLA and Colorado," said Solis, who may be just waiting for Oregon to offer. Asked about his interest in the Ducks, Solis responded, "Very high. I'm just hoping and waiting for an offer to come...When I was up there, what (the Oregon coaches) said is what they do is they take it very slow."
If Oregon does not offer Solis, Colorado may have a good chance at his services. If the Ducks do offer...
Zaheer Webb: 6'3", 320-pounds, from Lakewood, Washington
Webb is not rated by either services, and on June 10th received his first Division I-A offer from...Colorado. Does this mean that Webb is going to jump at the chance to play for a Division I-A school?
"It felt good to get my first offer. And now that I have that offer, it shows me that I have to work even harder to keep it and to get other colleges to show interest in me," Webb told BuffStampede.com.
Webb plans to attend camps at Washington, Oregon State and Washington State this summer. "I am trying to stay kind of close to home for college," he said. "I really want to go to Oregon and I have interest in Washington, Oregon State and Washington State."
As with the defensive tackles, Colorado has an impressive offer sheet. However, you have to slide down the list before you find prospects who are seriously considering the Buffs. On the list of offers, but who are not likely to suit up in the black and gold include: Adolphus Washington from Cincinnati, Ohio (5-star, No. 3 defensive end nationally); Darius Hamilton from Ramsey, New Jersey (5-star, No. 4 defensive end); Jeremy Castro from Murrieta, California (4-star DE); Troy Hinds from Kaysville, Utah (4-star, No. 10 defensive end); and Martin Aiken from Bamberg, South Carolina (4-star, No. 12 defensive end).
So, are there any defensive end prospects who like Colorado?
Kyle Kelley: 6'3", 205-pounds, from Irvine, California
Kelley is considered by Rivals to be a 4-star prospect, the 181st-best player in the country overall. Scout labels Kelley as a 3-star defensive end, No. 36 nationally. Kelley has offers from a majority of the Pac-12 schools, as well as schools as far away as Florida and North Carolina State. Still Kelley, who was in Boulder for the CU spring game, likes the Buffs. "Colorado is losing a lot of seniors that are graduating so I would have a good shot of playing there early," Kelley told BuffStampede.com on May 27th.
Colorado is the first school that I took an unofficial visit to and it is a great school. They have the most beautiful campus that I have seen. With the new coaching staff, they are really trying to turn things around and I believe that they will because I have heard great things about [head] coach [Jon] Embree and the whole coaching staff they have in place now.
Kelley has already visited half of the Pac-12, including both Arizona schools, USC, UCLA and Washington.
I get out of school on June 15 and after that I am making plans to travel east and go see some of the schools I have offers from out there: NC State, Florida, Vanderbilt and I might stop by Northern Illinois on the way there or on the way back...Then I might go up to one of the Oregon schools. So I still have some trips to plan. But after I take those visits, by the end of June, I should stop traveling and that is when I will narrow it down. If there is one school that I really like at that point, I will commit. I am trying to commit before my senior season starts so I can focus on my team. But if I am having trouble figuring out which one I want to go to, then I will take some official visits during my senior year.
DeForest Buckner: 6'7", 225 lbs. from Honolulu, Hawai'i
Buckner is considered by Rivals to be a 4-star prospect, the 248th-best player in the country overall. Scout rates Buckner as the No. 50 defensive end nationally and a 3-star recruit. Buckner has offers from seven Pac-12 schools, including Oregon, both Washington schools, Utah, UCLA and Arizona.
Back in March, Buckner listed Colorado in his top three, along with Oregon and Arizona. By April, though, Buckner wasn't making any lists. "I'm just looking right now," Buckner explained to UteZone.com. "I'm not picking any favorites right now. I'm going over all of them and seeing which are interesting."
Don't look for a commitment from Buckner anytime soon. Buckner isn’t ready to name a favorite or even trim his list, as the junior plans on taking all the time the NCAA allows to make his decision. “Right now everybody is even,” Buckner told Scout.com. “I don’t have a leader. I think that I like the teams the most that are really honest with me. The ones that just tell you how it is and are real clear about things...I plan on waiting to announce my decision all the (way) up to signing day.”
Buckner's ultimate choice might depend on where his teammate, Luke Kaumatule, ends up. Speaking of Kaumatule...
Luke Kaumatule: 6'7", 225 lbs. from Honolulu, Hawai'i
Kaumatule is considered by Rivals to be a 4-star prospect, the 236th-best player in the country overall. Scout rates Kaumatule as a 4-star recruit and the No. 29 defensive end nationally. Kaumatule has offers from eight Pac-12 schools, along with BYU and Hawai'i.
Kaumatule was asked by eDuck.com on June 2nd to name his top five choices: "Schools that would be in the top five are: Oregon, Stanford, Cal, UCLA...I don't know, I'm just open-minded to whatever comes along." That would be four schools, along with "I don't know." Perhaps Colorado could fit into that final spot, perhaps not.
In May, Kaumatule told BruinBlitz.com, "Right now my parents are mainly telling me to go for education first," Kaumatule said. "Then try and stay on the west coast second and then the best offer." What is Kaumatule going to be looking for in a college? "A safe environment," Kaumatule said. "Good weather, hopefully like Hawai'i, but the weather is going to be whatever, I just want to be somewhere safe and get a good education where after college, if football doesn't work out, then I will do good and have a good career."
Javonte Magee: 6'5", 262 lbs. from San Antonio, Texas
Magee is considered by Rivals to be a 4-star prospect, the 127th-best player in the country overall. Scout rates Magee as a 4-star recruit, also listing him as the No. 11 defensive tackle nationally. Magee boasts a laundry list of offers, including six schools that start with the letter "A" alone. On the Rivals list, Magee shows offers from over 40 schools, including six Pac-12 schools, every Big 12 school except Oklahoma, eight SEC schools and seven Big Ten schools. Whew!
So, what chance does Colorado have? Magee wants to be part of a package deal. Sam Houston High has three prospects who want to play together in college, Magee, defensive back Leo Thomas, and offensive lineman Raphael Green.
"We are a package deal, we are trying to go to college together," Magee told BuffStampede.com on May 26th. "We have a real close bond, that is why we are all trying to go to the same college," added Thomas. "We love to compete with each other. We just want to stay together. Of course there is always a chance that might not happen if we don't get the same offers, but hopefully it will happen."
To date, Thomas only holds offers from North Texas, Arizona (recruited by former Buff Ryan Walters), Wake Forest, SMU, and Colorado, while Green only has an offer from North Texas.
The offer of a scholarship by Colorado to Leo Thomas has the trio looking at Boulder as an option. Colorado has a nice campus," Magee said. "I heard it is real nice so I like it." Thomas added, "I like that they have a new coaching staff at Colorado. The coach I talked to (J.D. Brookhart) is real cool. They have a nice school and they have shown me a lot of love, so I like that."
How many of the above players will become Colorado Buffs next February? Hard to say. It would appear right now that Justin Solis and Kyle Kelley are the Buffs' best bets.
What is easy to say is that if Colorado is to be successful in the Pac-12 during the middle years of this decade, a few of these names will need to become household names in the Buffs Nation.