Hernandez on Buffs' radar

Colorado offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy believes that some prospects are overrated in recruiting based on what they do as sophomores and juniors with no enough emphasis given to their senior seasons. California wide receiver Zach Hernandez is hoping a change in schools might give him a boost as a senior and help him earn a CU offer.

Zach Hernandez, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound prospect, played in a spread system as a junior at Alemany High School in Mission Hills, Calif., last fall. He finished with just 15 catches but 400 yards creating questions about why he wasn't thrown to more.

"I didn't get as many touches and stuff as I wanted to, but I still came up strong and had a lot of things to help me and my team," Hernandez said. "I did what I could. We didn't have the biggest line. So that makes it hard to go deep, but overall it was a good year."

The slot receivers caught the majority of the passes in the Alemany offense, according to Hernandez, despite his gaudy average per catch. Hernandez said there were several games in which he would catch a pass and gain 50 or 60 yards and coaches wouldn't come back to him again. That played a part in his decision to switch schools after the season.

Hernandez transferred to Oaks Christian between semesters and will play in an offense with USC bound wide receiver Jordan Payton next fall. It could be just what he needs to prove he is a legitimate college prospect.

Hernandez and Payton made a side trip to Boulder in February during a ski trip to Vail. They met with CU coaches and checked out the campus. Hernandez was blown away, but didn't come away with a scholarship offer.

"I loved it. Everything was so great," Hernandez said. "The football coaches were amazing. I loved everything they had to say. Their game plan for the future is unbelievable. I love the offense they're going to run with their head coach coming from the Redskins and all their coaches having NFL experience. The offense fits what I like a lot. It's a passing offense.

"The school itself was unbelievable. I went for a tour and saw everything. The new dining hall there was ridiculous. I loved that. It was great. Nice town. Small, cool, it was perfect for me. It was exactly what I was kind of looking for."

Hernandez also made a trip to Cal several weeks ago and he played this weekend on the Badger Elite 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas. He plans a trip to SMU, possibly this week and is being recruited by Connecticut and Syracuse as well.

Hernandez is originally from New York City and moved to California when he was 10. So going to college all the way across the country in the northeast wouldn't be difficult for him. In fact, it would be like going home in a lot of ways.

None of the schools have offered him a scholarship but that might change during the spring evaluation period, and it will likely change once the 2011 season begins in the fall.

Colorado coaches might have been more interested initially in landing Payton, but they told Hernandez they plan to keep their eyes on him and watch him develop with his new team.

As for Payton, he continues to say he is committed to USC but exploring all his options. One of them is Boulder and the new-look Buffs under coach Jon Embree. Perhaps Hernandez and Payton will choose to play together in college and do so in a place where they can get a little skiing and snowboarding done in the offseason.

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