For many Colorado football fans, watching the Buffaloes this year has been a breath of fresh, Rocky Mountain air. Particularly because of how bad football had been in Boulder the last decade.
From 2006 to 2015, Colorado had won a total of 35 games, averaging less than four victories each season. And the best year of that stretch—2007—ended with a comeback attempt that fell short against Alabama in the Independence Bowl. Colorado finished with a losing record (6-7), which has been an uncomfortable norm since 2006.
Motivated by their best start in years and fresh off a big win against Arizona to remain atop the Pac-12 South standings, the Buffaloes are all about success. Head coach Mike MacIntyre has the team with an 8-2 record, the campus buzzing and opponents on guard.
What makes the fans and coaching staff smile is that the success isn't just on the football field.
One look at Colorado's 2017 recruiting class shows the coaching staff is preparing for success to be the norm and not a trend. It's Darrin Chiaverini's goal as the guy who wears several hats on the Buffaloes' coaching staff.
In addition to being the team's co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, Chiaverini also is the recruiting coordinator and has led the charge in Colorado's 2017 class that includes 22 commitments. The latest pledge is the class' highest-ranked player, Arvada, Colorado, 4-star offensive lineman Jake Moretti, a former Ohio State commit who decided to play in his home state.
"We're trying to turn things around here," Chiaverini said. "We want this class to go down as one of the best in CU's history. I think think this class can win some championships together."
Chiaverini has been tasked with finding the nation's top athletes to wear a Colorado uniform in the near future, all while doing his part in leading a Colorado offense that averaged nearly 466 yards and more than 35 points a game through 10 games.
"We're winning, and we're bowl eligible," Chiaverini said. "It's been different in the past. CU hasn't been too good lately, but there's great history and great tradition here. Now that we're winning again, we're trying to do something special."
The success on the field has resonated to the state of Texas, a state considered a major recruiting hotbed nationwide. Of Colorado's 22 commits, eight are from the Lone Star State. Arguably the three biggest commits are from the same school.
DeSoto High School is a nationally-ranked power that features 10 commits from Colorado, LSU, TCU, Missouri, Wisconsin, Nevada, Army and Howard. Three of those players, 4-star wide receivers K.D. Nixon and Laviska Shenault Jr. and 3-star interior offensive lineman Xavier Newman, are taking their talents to Boulder.
Shenault was recruited by Chiaverini and said he immediately sold him on the program when he came to the school for a visit. He also liked the campus' surroundings when he visited Boulder.
"Coach [Chiaverini] really went in to detail about everything, how he was going to throw the ball and how the program was going to turn around," Shenault said. "He just really made you believe, and that really caught my attention."
Moretti, Nixon and Newman all are proof that Colorado is becoming a national player in recruiting. Moretti was committed to Ohio State since July 2015 but tweeted his decision to play for the Buffaloes Thursday evening.
Moretti is still rehabbing a torn ACL suffered during the summer, but when healthy, he is a versatile standout who can play anywhere on the line. Regardless of missing his senior year with the injury, he is still ranked No. 103 in Scout.com's 2017 rankings.
Nixon originally committed to Tennessee in April but decommitted to explore his options in June. He committed to Colorado on Oct. 18, four days after an official visit to Boulder.
Newman originally committed to Texas in April but parted ways with the Longhorns on Oct. 16—two days after an official visit to Colorado. He committed to the Buffaloes the day after decommitting from Texas.
"The coaching staff is amazing," said Newman, who was recruited by Chiaverini, as well as running backs coach Darian Hagan and offensive line coach Klayton Adams. "They preach family, and when I took my visit, I felt that. It took a toll on me; I was very impressed."
The metropolitan Dallas area has been a primary target for recruiting with Chiaverini. Along with the DeSoto trio, 3-star wide receiver Jaylon Jackson from nearby Cedar Hill, Texas, also is committed. Additionally, Colorado has pledges from Denton (Texas) High School teammates in 3-star offensive lineman Grant Polley and 3-star athlete Chris Miller, as well as 3-star offensive lineman Will Sherman of nationally-ranked Allen High School.
Getting the best players for Colorado is both business and personal for Chiaverini. He was a wide receiver for the Buffaloes from 1995-98 and a team captain his senior year.
As a coach, he said building coaching relationships in and around the Dallas area has been one of his major objectives since returning to Coloado in January. He's been aggressive in recruiting not only the 2017 class but also the 2018 class—a class that has two pledges in Colorado 3-star safety Ray Robinson and, as of Monday, according to Dan Albano of The Orange County Register, California wide receiver AJ Allen.
There are athletes everywhere, particularly California, Florida and Georgia, but getting the best players in Texas, Chiaverini said, is something most coaches are looking to accomplish every year.
"One thing I noticed as a former player is the great CU teams in the 90s had a lot of talent from the Dallas area," he said. "For whatever reason, we got away from that and weren't as visible in the area. One thing I wanted to make sure of when I got hired is to be visible again in the state of Texas.
Chiaverini's targeting of Texans has trickled down to the current recruits. Both Shenault and Newman said they are looking to not only sell uncommitted players on the program but also possibly sway committed players to join them in Boulder.
Some of Colorado's current targets include all-purpose running back Kaegun Williams, a teammate of Jackson's at Cedar Hill, the Iowa defensive back commit Chevin Calloway, defensive tackle Damion Daniels out of Bishop Dunne High School in Dallas and cornerback Samuel Barnes out of George Ranch High School outside of Houston.
"I wish my whole team could come," Shenault added, "but it is what it is."
The Colorado dream has been sold to the future players. Credit MacIntyre, Chiaverini and the rest of the staff for their efforts on the field and by way of the recruiting trail.
"When kids commit to a school, they're going to commit because they trust the coaches recruiting them," Chiaverini said. "They have to trust not only me but what we're trying to do here. It's about relationships and trust; that's key. We've done a good job so far, but this class isn't done yet."
Newman added: "It's been a great sight with the success they are having. More recruits are starting to recognize that and are getting interested."