The new way forward

Colorado coach Jon Embree hasn't spent much time away from his cell phone during the past week as he plays catch up in the 2011 recruiting cycle, trying to add some talent and depth to his team and not allow this year to be a waste the program pays for in the future. Get inside for more.

Jon Embree already has met several times with members of his staff, academic advisers and other athletic department personnel to discuss recruiting and how he plans to proceed not only in the remaining five weeks of this cycle but in the future.

Sources said two things have become clear about Embree's philosophy so far. He does not want to take risks on players with marginal academic records unless they are difference-makers on the field. And he won't be casting as wide a net for recruits as the last staff did.

One big criticism of former coach Dan Hawkins from within the program and the school's admissions office was his willingness to bring players into the program who struggled to get by academically and also didn't do much on Saturday afternoons.

Embree wants to put a stop to that, which is why we could see the program sign as few as 12-13 recruits in this cycle. We're not saying that is the goal, but it is a possibility because Embree doesn't want to fill scholarships with players who can't help him and might hurt him in the long run.

As a former CU student-athlete and a coach who spent more than a decade on the Folsom Field sideline as an assistant coach, Embree knows what it takes for young men to succeed on and off the field in Boulder.

"I want a kid who wants to build and add to the tradition," Embree said. "I want a kid who wants to come get his degree. I want a kid who wants to try to play in the NFL. If you don't want to be the best, you're not going to do it in college.

"If a kid says, 'I don't want to play in the NFL.' Then I don't want him to try to play for me because he is satisfied with where he's at. ...At the end of the day, it's not who you don't get. It's the one you get who can't play for you. That's what hurts you."

Embree plans to focus much of the program's recruiting efforts on Texas and California and the western half of the nation.

It's a wise approach if history is any gauge. Over the past 38 years, a large portion of the program's high school recruits have come from Colorado (230), Texas (107) and California 205), according to records from the school's sports information department.

The program began to venture east a little more over the past five recruiting classes under Dan Hawkins grabbing recruits in Connecticut, Ohio, New Jersey, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama and Maryland.

Under Hawkins, a total of 24 players were recruited over five years from east of the Mississippi River. Some, such as running back Rodney Stewart, have paid off in a big way.

While Embree plans to maintain recruiting ties all over the country, the primary focus will remain in the west and CU will likely sign fewer players from the east, curtailing the trend that had developed under Hawkins.

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