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Pac-12 Football Recruiting Profiles: Colorado Buffaloes

Part 5 in in our look at the 5-year recruiting trends of each Pac-12 program

USC v Colorado Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Welcome to a series in which I am profiling the recruiting trends and habits of each team in the Pac-12 conference over the past 5 seasons. That includes the 2014-2018 classes ending with the incoming freshmen for this upcoming season.

The data I used does not include every single offer and commit for every program but it does include the vast majority. The cuts I made were deliberate. To see more information about what specifically is in the data set and an explanation of any metrics I used, please check out this article here which has all of the information you could want and more.

You can also look at the previous editions profiling: Arizona, Arizona State, California, and Stanford. With that out of the way, let’s look at the Colorado Buffaloes.

Program Overview

It was a rough start to the Mike MacIntyre era in Boulder as Colorado followed up a 1-8 Pac-12 record in 2013 with a 2-10 (0-9) campaign in 2014. Things were only marginally better in 2015 even though the Buffs swept their non-conference slate because they won only 1 of their last 9 games. Still, you could tell that the talent had improved and Colorado was at least coming closer to wins. Things peaked in 2016 with one of the more shocking division titles in recent memory with a 10-4 (8-1) record and a Pac-12 South title. That team lost a lot of players at the end of the year though and Colorado came back down to earth at 5-7 (2-7) in 2017. Now Coach MacIntyre is looking to show that the 8 conference wins of 2016 is closer to reality than the combined 4 Pac-12 wins in his other 4 seasons.

General Recruiting Statistics

Average Offer: 3.46 stars, 0.89 composite rating (8th in conference)

Average Commit: 3.07 stars, 0.85 composite rating (10th in conference)

Average # of Offers: 143.6 (10th in conference)

Recruiting Style: Offers- Middle of the Road, Quality- Middle of the Road

The fact that Colorado’s average offer ranking is higher than their average commit shows that occasionally their food is a little bigger than they can swallow. The Buffaloes had exactly 1 commit from a player rated at a 0.894 or higher from 2014-2018 despite offering 275 of them. That means more than one-third of Colorado’s offers you could essentially just ignore.

But Colorado still tried to be relatively selective with their offers. While they weren’t nearly as patient as Washington and Stanford, they were at the bottom of a clump of Pac-12 teams that didn’t give out an offer to every recruit under the sun. It should be noted that Colorado’s best recruiting year (2017) also corresponded with the only season they gave out more than 200 offers so maybe we’ll see the Buffs be a little looser extending them in the future. Of course it also corresponded with coming off a division title so they might want to try that again too.

Best Recruiting Win: Class of 2014 Shay Fields, WR. 3 stars, 0.8614 composite rating.

“I’m stretching the timeline a bit, but the flip of Shay Fields from USC to CU was the first big recruiting win of the MacIntyre era and the first successful foray into California for the Buffs. Fields was a big name wideout from a big name school in St. John Bosco, and prying him away from SoCal was one of the first big signs that CU might actually be getting better. Fields was a starter for four years, and always stretched the field. While he is not the highest rated recruit to sign with the Buffs in the last five years, he was the first big win against other Pac-12 schools.”

-Jack Barsch at Ralphie Report

Worst Recruiting Loss: Class of 2016 Carlo Kemp, SDE. 4 stars, 0.894 composite rating.

“Carlo Kemp was a local superstar who had family ties to the CU program. He showed interest throughout his recruitment, visited officially and unofficially a few times, and was receptive to the coaches. Kemp was a four-star, but he wasn’t a no-brainer national recruit. People close to his recruitment process were decently confident that Kemp could and would stay home and play for CU. Then Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh. He quickly tore around the country and snatched up almost any recruit he could, one of those being Carlo Kemp. While there have been more visceral flips or more highly-rated prospects saying no late, Kemp was a local guy at a position of need. He would’ve changed CU’s defense and played a lot for four years. It still hurts.”

-Jack Barsch at Ralphie Report

Recruiting Map Profile

Colorado may be the most reliant on just two states of any program in the conference. Nearly two-thirds of the Colorado offers go to players from either California or Texas in close to an even split but with a slight lean towards California. From there Florida is a clear number three at 10.6%. No other state gets more than one out of every 25 Colorado offers (even Colorado). They especially don’t wander into the Pacific Northwest very often with a combined 15 offers to Oregon and Washington recruits. That’s less than their overall offers to Arizona, Utah, or Hawaii.

Highest Success States

Colorado: +16.39%, California: +7.43%, Arizona: +1.01%

As the only power conference school in Colorado, the Buffs still hold pretty high brand appeal there. MacIntyre has gotten commitments from 50% of the home state players with offers which is by far their best percentage. That has led Coloradans to comprise about one-fifth of the roster despite being less than 4% of the total offers.

Colorado has also dumped a ton of resources into recruiting California and it has paid off. Slightly more than 40% of their commitments come from the Golden State. There really isn’t a third state that they do very well in but Arizona technically comes next in the percentages.

Lowest Success States

Texas: -8.34%, Florida: -6.24%, Hawaii: -2.09%

Colorado has ramped up their recruiting in Texas over the last two seasons as they’ve essentially offered twice as many players from the Lone Star State in 2017 and 2018 than in any year previous under MacIntyre. That decision has helped them make up some ground but still puts them last in this list. Colorado had more commitments in both 2017 and 2018 from Texas than in the three previous seasons combined.

Florida is a virtual black hole for all but a couple of Pac-12 programs and that’s also the case for Colorado. They’ve been able to pull in a trio of 3-star recruits there but they’d clearly hope for more with as many offers as they give out.

Out of Conference Profile

Non-Conference Rival- Boise State Broncos, 45.0%.

Out of 20 recruits choosing either BSU or Colorado with offers from both, 11 have chosen to head to the Mountain West. Interestingly though none of those players were from either Colorado or Idaho so normally they are both trying to entice California recruits to leave the state. While the Buffs haven’t won in sheer numbers they have reeled in 7 of the 9 highest recruits in that group (although they missed on the highest one this year in 4-star athlete Khalil Shakir).

Non-Conference Big Brother- Texas A&M Aggies, 3.03%.

The Aggies have gone head-to-head with Colorado more than any other non-conference program and it’s gone as well for the Buffs as it has for Wile E Coyote in his frequent run-ins with the roadrunner. Only a single recruit with an offer from Texas A&M has found their way to Boulder in 3-star California SDE Terrance Lang. Otherwise it’s 32/33 for A&M. Coach MacIntyre is surely hoping that Kevin Sumlin isn’t able to put up similar results now that he’s at division rival Arizona.

Non-Conference Little Brother- Fresno State Bulldogs, 80.0%.

Unfortunately, with Colorado’s recruiting profile there were slim pickings for this category. Colorado has won 8 or 10 recruiting battles with Fresno. The only significant win for the Bulldogs was for QB Chason Virgil in 2015 but the Buffs have been mostly content that they ended up with Steven Montez in that class instead.

Colorado Pac-12 Recruiting Win %

Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
2014 7.23% 10
2015 2.15% 12
2016 6.31% 9
2017 8.06% 8
2018 7.35% 9
Overall 6.57% 11

There are clear signs of progress in Boulder but they’ve still got a large one tied to their leg weighing them down in the overall rankings. The 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes had a few great players such as Shay Fields and Isaiah Oliver but for the most part were pretty barren. The fantastic run in 2016 was largely on the backs of an underrated recruiting class in 2013 with 3-star players like Tedric Thompson, Bryce Bobo, Phillip Lindsay, Devin Ross, and Chidobe Awuzie. Once those guys graduated there just wasn’t enough talent among the upper classmen to sustain. There’s been progress made since then so we’ll see if some better numbers the last 3 seasons will build back up the depth.

Colorado Weighted Pac-12 Recruiting Win %

Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
Year Conf H2H % Conf. Rank
2014 5.78% 11
2015 1.25% 12
2016 9.46% 8
2017 14.98% 8
2018 8.82% 10
Overall 8.06% 11

The recruiting spike following the Pac-12 South title is even more pronounced with the weighted results. More than half of their recruits had multiple other Pac-12 offers and they brought in one player with offers from more than half of the conference. The latter is a very rare event in the MacIntyre era and happened only once previously.

Early Outlook for 2019 and Beyond

Colorado is off to an excellent start recruiting for 2019. They already have 6 commitments including both their QB (who made the Elite 11 finals) as well as a 4-star WR. Braedin Huffman-Dixon has a composite rating of 0.915 which would make him the second highest rated recruit of the MacIntyre era if his verbal holds. The average composite rating of those 6 players is significantly higher than the average over any of the last 5 years. Colorado has once again honed in on Texas and California at least early on. Almost 75% of the offers they’ve extended so far have gone out to those 2 states.

The talent is steadily getting better at Colorado. They have mostly lifted themselves up a tier in Pac-12 recruiting from the very bottom but it will be difficult to climb much higher without sustained success on the field. Coach MacIntyre has to prove that 2016 wasn’t a complete fluke and get to a bowl game in 2018. If he can do that they might be able to take advantage of the coaching turmoil in the South and inch closer to the middle of the conference.


You can follow me @UWDP_maxvroom