For college football fans around the world, the NCAA National Signing Day feels a lot like Christmas morning. It’s a day where university football programs around the country introduce their newest recruiting class.
Buffaloes head coach Mel Tucker held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to introduce the 25 high school standouts and/or junior college transfers that have signed their letter of intent to play for Colorado next season.
“It’s a great class,” said Tucker. “I’m really proud of these guys [and] our coaches. I’m proud of our recruiting department. Obviously [these recruits] decided to come here for a reason. They see our commitment to win, they see our commitment to win through our facilities, our coaching staff [and] everything we have to offer. What a great class to start this new era off with.”
While the Buffs’ 2019 class lacks the fabled and highly-sought after 5-star recruit, of which the university hasn’t had since the 2007 class, when Colorado managed to snag Darrell Scott, the No. 1 running back of that year’s class, this year’s group contains a number of game changers, or at least that’s the hope.
Lack of 5-stars aside, Colorado’s 2019 pool does boast a few 4-star recruits. According to Rivals.com, the Buffs grabbed a couple of highly-ranked offensive weapons in running back Jaren Mangham and receiver La’Vontae Shenault.
The program was also on the shortlist for defensive back Kaiir Elam, another 4-star prospect who also happens to be the No. 59 player in the nation. Elam, a Florida native, chose the University of Florida over Colorado, Georgia and Miami live on ESPN2 shortly before Tucker’s scheduled press conference was set to begin.
Tucker, however, doesn’t seem worried about the stars associated with any of his incoming players.
“We just have to trust our process,” Tucker said. “…Whether [the players] have one star or five stars, when they get here all of those stars go away anyway. “…It’s not about that [anymore.] It’s what can you do to help our football team. [They need to] become a part of our program, become a part of our culture, learn how to work, learn how to compete, compete to get on the field, [and] become a team player.”
Tucker, who was just hired in early December and took over the recruiting process during the eleventh hour, was pleased with how he and his team of new coaches and staff performed during their first recruiting period.
“It’s been a fast and furious recruiting season here, but I think we’ve done a good job,” he said. “I really want to thank our coaches. Those guys have worked really, really hard out on the road. They’ve done a really good job of identifying players, selling our program and I think our organization, our efficiency has really paid off for us.”
As the 2018 season ended, it became increasingly apparent that Colorado required some new help on the front lines. Tucker used his first recruiting class to do just that. Ten of the Buffs’ 25 recruits are either offensive or defensive linemen.
“I thought it was a need,” he said. “We’re always going to have big guys in the trenches, on offense and defense. We’re never going to be short in that department. I thought we needs to get bigger, we needed to gain depth, so that was a point of emphasis…that’s why we signed so many players with [big] size.”
Tucker’s 10 linemen were the most popular position of his inaugural class at Colorado.
The first-year head coach spent some time finding some offensive firepower, too, however.
With the graduation of tailbacks Kyle Evans and last year’s graduate transfer, Travon McMillian, CU nabbed 4-star running back Jaren Mangham, a 6-foot-1, 214-pound back from Detroit, Michigan. Mangham also garnered attention from the likes of the University of Alabama and Arizona, among a large pool of 47 schools, before ultimately signing with Colorado.
The Buffs also snagged local product Joshia Davis, who hails from Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch, to help fill the running back position, as well.
Though the Buffaloes are fairly strong at the wide receiver position, Tucker and his staff added three more wideouts to the team, one of whose last name should sound very familiar to Buffs fans.
Four-star receiver La’Vontae Shenault, younger brother of junior receiver Laviska Shenault Jr., will be joining his Heisman-candidate brother here in Boulder this fall.
“Another rare athlete,” said Tucker of Shenault Jr.’s brother. “[He’s] a huge, huge competitor…loves to compete. [He’s got] great size [and] his ball skills are incredible. He wanted to play with his brother, he wanted to be here at CU…he knows he’s not going to be in [Laviska’s] shadow because he wants to create a legacy of his own.”
One area of the offense where the Buffs failed to gain a commitment was at the quarterback position. Starting QB Steven Montez’s impending graduation after the 2019 season doesn’t seem to have Tucker and his subordinates concerned.
“We have good quarterbacks on our roster now, guys that can play,” Tucker said. “We’ll see how it all shakes out. We’ll be in the market for a quarterback in the 2020 class…Whether it’s the quarterback position, the offensive line, defensive line, defensive backs, whatever, we really have a great product to sell here regardless of what our depth chart looks like.”
In most cases, it’s not usually expected for incoming freshman to start and make a big difference to next year’s team, Tucker understands that. Despite this, the new head coach is excited to see what the new commits can do.
“They’ll come in and get what they deserve,” Tucker said. “I would love for all these guys to play right away, whether it’s starting role or a rotational guy or somewhere on special teams. We’re going to play the best players and we’re going to compete everyday to earn that playing time.”
With recruitment season drawing nearer to a close and the 2019 season a little over 200 days away, it’s time for Tucker and his staff to prepare and ready this new team for success. His new team – at least according to Tucker – seems ready to go.
“[They’re] eager and willing,” said Tucker. “That’s what sticks out to me the most. They want to learn, they want to know about the schemes [and] they want to get to know the coaches….We’re getting to know our guys and then [preparing to] get ready for Spring ball.”
The Colorado Buffaloes’ annual Spring game is on Saturday, April 1 at 1 p.m. MST.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Scott MacDonald at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ScottTopics.