Monday, February 25, 2008

Team Recruiting Countdown: No. 15 Colorado Buffaloes

No. 15 Colorado Buffaloes (Big 12 No. 3)

2008 Haul: 21 signees, 3 Athlon Consensus 100

Scouting Report:

Despite some early struggles, Dan Hawkins has the Colorado Buffaloes trending upward again. This team was one of the youngest in the Big 12 last season if not the country, so there is a lot returning on the field. Buffs fans can only continue to be optimistic, as off the field, the 15th ranked recruiting class is heading to Boulder this fall.

The 2008 Colorado recruiting class is headlined by the first elite prospect to show up on our countdown. Darrell Scott (Ventura, Calif.) is arguably the best running back in the nation and is likely to win the starting job right away. If Scott does not start, Hawkins did a strong job of creating depth in the backfield since Hugh Charles left. Ray Polk (Phoenix, Ariz.) leaves the sunny desert landscapes for the mountains and snow of Colorado. He will also see some carries as a true freshman.

It is one of the best running back recruiting classes in the nation.

The second strongest position in the class is easily the linebackers. Loaded with two AC100 members, Lynn Katoa (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Jon Major (Parker, Colo.), as well as one of the top JUCO linebackers (Shaun Moehler – Costa Mesa, Calif.), this linebacking crop is also one of the best positional classes in the nation. It could not come at a better time as the team’s leading tackler and defensive leader Jordan Dizon has graduated.

Back in the 80s, Bill McCartney found out that if he kept Colorado kids at home, he could win a national championship. Of course, he had to dip into Texas and California too, but the Centennial state provided the foundation for a title team. Dan Hawkins did a great job last season of keeping in state kids home, something his predecessor could not do (see Calais Campbell and LenDale White). Although not a particularly deep year in Colorado, Hawkins still pulled some talent. He landed the most important players - three of the states’ top four.

It is also no surprise that Hawkins went into California and had success. He landed seven prospects from the Golden Coast. Boulder does have a unique advantage in the Big 12 as it is the western most city in the conference. California will have to be fertile ground for the Buffs if they expect to continue to build the program under Hawkins. Scott obviously headlines this group but Moehler, Max Tuioti-Mariner (Corona, Calif.) and Ryan Deehan (Poway, Calif.) round out a really strong group of California prospects heading east to Boulder.

Top Prospect: Darrell Scott – RB – Ventura, Calif. (6-1, 212) AC100 No. 3

Darrell Scott is the most complete running back prospect in the nation. He has not only the durability, size and power to run between the tackles 20-25 times a game but also the speed and agility to get to the outside and beat defenders to the edge. He shows exceptional feet for a bigger back and has great balance and power for a guy who can play in the open field. He has great vision and patience while allowing his blocks to develop. Scott is also one of the better receivers out of the backfield in this class.

Scott rushed for 3,194 yards and 45 touchdowns his junior year.

Scott has lived in Florida, Texas and California, so he has played against top-flight competition his entire career. Colorado freshman wide receiver Josh Smith is Scott’s uncle but is more like his brother as they lived together in Ventura. This relationship will be a key factor in where Scott ends up.

Scott is the first elite prospect to show up on the top-25 class countdown.

Best of the Rest:

Jon Major – LB – Parker, Colo. (6-4, 230) AC100 No. 65
Lynn Katoa – LB – Salt Lake City, Utah (6-2, 225) AC100 No. 76
Ryan Deehan – TE – Poway, Calif. (6-4, 230)
Bryce Givens – OL – Denver, Colo. (6-6, 275)
Ray Polk – RB – Phoenix, Ariz. (6-0, 195)

Sleeper: Max Tuioti-Mariner – OL – Corona, Calif. (6-4, 300)

Okay, so Mariner probably should be in the ‘Best of the Rest’ section but he is dramatically underrated so ends up as a sleeper. This kid should be in the top-75 regardless of position but because he is likely to play guard he ends up lower. In addition, he may not come into camp at 100 percent but if he is healthy he is a good bet to get some playing time. He has a nasty, killer instinct and looks to demolish defenders.

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