BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Last season the Colorado Buffaloes played both participants in the Pac-12 Championship Game and were beaten and bruised by Utah and Oregon by a combined score of 90-18, or an average of 36 points. Seeing the Buffs were often outmanned up front, head coach Mel Tucker and his coaching staff went to work building a recruiting class in hopes of quickly closing the gap and competing with the best in the conference.
“This group is all in and that’s what I love about them,” Tucker told CBS4. “We were very intentional about the guys we went after. We target them. We signed them and each and every one of those guys wanted to be in Boulder. They saw the vision, they felt the culture. They know we’re building something special and they wanted to be a part of that.”
On the first day of the early signing period Colorado added 21 recruits. 16 from high school, three Junior College transfers and two four-year transfers. The players come from all areas in the country from California, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, Mississippi, Massachusetts and Arizona. All the players will have a chance to compete for playing time as soon as they hit campus.
“You have to build your roster,” Tucker explained. “Recruiting is to improve your team. To help your team so every one of those guys we’ve signed are going to be impact players. They’re going to come in and compete for playing time right away.”
The top recruits include Christian Gonzalez, Brendan Rice and Jake Wray. But the player that highlights the class is Brendon Lewis, a three-star, dual threat quarterback from Melissa, Texas. He comes to Boulder competing for the starting position with Blake Stenstrom and Tyler Lytle.
“He’s an awesome competitor. He really gets after it,” Coach Tucker said. “He can make all the throws. He’s a pocket passer but he has mobility. So, whether they’re called quarterback runs or it’s improvising and quarterback scrambles, he can make plays with his feet. That’s the type of guy we were looking for. We were targeting him because out of the guys we evaluated we thought he was the best so we’re very fortunate to have him.”
The Buffs also added defensive end Antonio Alfano, the five-star transfer from Alabama who was rated as the top player in last year’s recruiting class. CU also focused on getting bigger up front in a change in strategy from how previous head coach Mike MacIntyre often recruited lineman.
“Coach MacIntyre was known for bringing in guys that were about 255 pounds trying to build them up in the weight room, said Adam Munsterteiger, lead writer for Buffs Stampede. “Mel Tucker is kind of taking the opposite approach and wants to bring in guys and then maybe have to kind of reshape their frame a little bit. One of the guys they took a chance on is Gerad Lichtenhan who’s 6-foot-9, 325 pounds. So, if you’re going to take a sleeper, you take one that’s bigger and that’s been kind of the approach from him.”
As the Buffs continue to build their roster, they understand that only one player from Colorado is Carson Lee, the offensive lineman from Cherry Creek High School. Coach Tucker believes early recruiting and winning ballgames will help keep the top talent playing in Boulder.
“We have to recruit our state like its out of state. We can’t take anything for granted, Coach Tucker said. “We’re very intentional and we’re very aggressive. We put out the offers early and we’re targeting the top players and we’re going to recruit them and eventually I feel we’re going to get our fair share.
“But it’s a prove it deal. They want to see what we’re all about. The feedback I’m getting is that they can see the culture is changing, there is a difference. We’re going to continue to build on that and recruit and keep our top players in Boulder.”
Colorado starts the 2020 season in Fort Collins against the Colorado State Rams on September, 5th.
24/7 Sports Rankings:
National Ranking: 34
Pac-12 Conference: 6
Recruit from Colorado: Carson Lee (Cherry Creek)