Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo
The desire for fast and substantial improvement of the University of Colorado’s football team — a reasonable demand being made by fans, players and coaches alike — has encumbered the CU community since the decline of the athletic program after the Buffs’ 70-3 loss to Texas in the 2005 Big 12 Championship Game. Since then Colorado has won only 39 percent of its games.
With heads held high, loyal and hopeful Buffs fans have turned their eyes to the competitive world of recruiting. After all, the young men who have expressed interest, signed letters of intent or committed to CU will greatly influence the team’s future.
Here are a few names that Buff fans should note for the near future.
Sheriron Jones: Sheriron Jones, pronounced Sher-RON, is a redshirt freshman quarterback who recently made headlines with the announcement of his transfer to CU from the University of Tennessee. The 6-foot-2 QB from Perris, California, was recruited by Colorado a few years back, though he eventually decided to play for the Volunteers. Jones will have to sit out a year before regaining eligibility to play, per NCAA regulations; his potential impact won’t be felt in 2016. However, with starting quarterback Sefo Liufau entering his senior year, the Buffs will eventually need to answer the question concerning his replacement after graduation.
Now, the options aren’t looking incredibly promising. Freshman Cade Apsay, who we briefly saw when Liufau suffered a season-ending injury in mid-November, proved that he could play at least decently. Overall, he didn’t do much (granted, in his few weeks of playing time) to convince me he should succeed Liufau. I’d say the same of junior Jordan Gehrke, who, at this point in his career, has become nearly inconsiderable for the position.
Jones has never played a snap of college football. He sat out the entirety of last season and will continue to sit out during the upcoming season. Still, he’s reported to be a guy who can utilize his legs just as easily as using his arm. In other words, Jones could be the dynamic type of player to really reinvigorate the Buffs’ offense. So remember his name, and keep an eye out for him in 2017.
Akil Jones: Akil, a 6’1” linebacker from San Jose, California, committed to CU in June of last year. He was personally recruited by defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt and offensive line coach Gary Bernardi. He will graduate from Valley Christian High School this spring, and will likely see some familiar faces in the locker room with fellow graduates Ryan Severson and Garrett Gregory also playing for the Buffs.
The high school senior received offers from Utah State, Wyoming and San Diego State before committing to Colorado. Coaches see Jones as a smart, hard-hitting player that could have an immediate impact on the team’s defense.
Let’s not forget the Buffaloes’ linebacker situation last year. When Addison Gillam had season-ending surgery early last season, it created a huge hole at the inside linebacker position, one that was beautifully filled by freshman Rick Gamboa. For Leavitt and his subordinates, Jones presents the opportunity to mold a player into a competing collegiate athlete. Buffs’ fans should take some solace knowing that in the event of another untimely and inconvenient injury to a starting linebacker, there is a capable potential fill-in to add to the list of considerations.
Johnny Huntley: Huntley, from Plantation, Florida, seems to be one of the more promising offensive recruits. He’s 6’3” and uses his size to his advantage. If you don’t believe me, check out Huntley snagging this jump ball in the end zone during an exercise. The Buffs beat out over 20 other schools who made offers to Huntley, including Alabama, Clemson, TCU, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
I sense a deep threat in the making. It’s time to officially accept that Nelson Spruce is gone. Despite an experienced receiving corps returning to the offense in 2016, a lack of depth — on both sides of the ball, for that matter — has proved to be a constant disadvantage for the Buffaloes in recent years. Now, we’re beginning a distinct change, evidently marked when inexperienced players stepped up in the wake of injuries to starters last season.
Huntley caught 12 touchdown passes and gained 900 yards on 40 receptions in his junior season at South Plantation High School. He was recruited by assistant coach Joe Tumpkin back in October.
Davis Webb: Webb raised eyebrows when he announced his desire to transfer from Texas Tech following his upcoming spring graduation. From 2013-2015, while playing as a Red Raider, Webb threw 46 touchdowns compared to 24 interceptions. He led Texas Tech to the 2013 Holiday Bowl, where he earned MVP honors in a 37-23 triumph over Arizona State.
Webb will be visiting Boulder soon. If he’s convinced to play for the Buffaloes, he would be a major offensive asset. The 6’5” 20 year-old from Prosper, Texas, has fought injuries, including a season-ending ankle injury and undergoing a necessary shoulder surgery. Still, he’s been an instrumental part of some intense battles for the starting quarterback position at Texas Tech. Though he’s not a lock just yet, Webb would bring Colorado a strong, physical and determined attitude that the team could no doubt benefit from, both on and off the field.