In-state recruits turning away from Buffs

As of Friday, the state of Colorado had nine prep football players from the class of 2012 give verbal commitments to Division I schools. The University of Colorado has landed just two of those - Mullen defensive tackle Tyler Henington and Mountain Vista defensive end Clay Norgard.

Henington and Norgard may have bright futures ahead, but it's the seven who have gotten away that troubles CU fans. With a BCS program just down the road in Boulder, why are so many of these top recruits choosing to leave the state?

"I'm sure each kid has his own reasons," Buffs head coach Jon Embree said.

Colorado's population, which is full of transplants from other states, could be a factor.

"We're a unique state," Embree said. "There's not a lot of kids growing up saying, 'I want to be a Buff.'"

Whatever the reasons, in-state recruits are deciding that Folsom Field is not where they want to play their home games in college.

In fact, all four of Colorado's four-star recruits have committed out of state: Grandview tight end Evan Baylis (Oregon), Mullen quarterback Cyler Miles (Washington), Arvada West tackle Paul Thurston (Nebraska) and Chaparral tackle Shane Callahan (Auburn). Windsor tackle Joey O'Connor picked Penn State this week.

"I went down to CU for their spring game," O'Connor said. "It was definitely awesome how they want to turn the program around and get that rolling again. But, when I was down there, I didn't feel like it was the right place for me. I ended up going to Penn State and visiting them. Right when I stepped on campus I knew this is where I wanted to be."

Baylis, who said he never really grew up watching many Buffs games, had the same feeling with Oregon.

"I fit in really well with the coaches and I like how they run their program," he said of the Ducks.

They certainly aren't alone.

Three of the state's top five offensive line recruits (Callahan, O'Connor and Thursday) have committed out of state, while the other two - Valor Christian's Alex Kozan and Mullen's Arthur Flores - are being heavily recruited by out-of-state schools.

It's probably no coincidence that the schools these recruits are choosing have enjoyed recent success.

Auburn was the BCS national champ last season, defeating Oregon in the title game. Nebraska, Penn State and Washington also played in bowl games last season.

Meanwhile, CU was 5-7, fired head coach Dan Hawkins during the season and hasn't played in a bowl game since 2007.

Embree just might be the guy to turn that around, but right now, CU is a team with five consecutive losing seasons under its belt.

"I'm sure some of that has something to do with it," Embree said. "Let's say you're in seventh grade and you start following college football, what has Colorado done since (the 2012 recruits) were in seventh grade?"

Baylis and O'Connor both expressed a belief that Embree and his staff will get CU on a winning track.

O'Connor, however, added, "How I felt, and I've talked to a couple of other guys, they said (the Buffs) kind of need to prove themselves in the Pac-12."

Baylis said CU producing more wins "would definitely help" in landing more in-state recruits. "It would show they are really turning it around," he said.

While Embree said signing in-state talent is "something we have to continue to work at," he is not overly concerned.

"I'd be more concerned losing some of these guys and not getting the interest and getting some of the guys out of state," he said. "I'm happy with the kids we have committed in and out of state."

And, don't forget, it's only July. Signing day isn't until February, so Embree and his staff have a full season ahead of them to prove themselves to recruits. Most schools, including CU, are going to gain recruits and lose some that have already committed.

"You have to be patient," Embree said. "It's a long time until February."

NOTES: The state's top two receiver recruits are Jordon Vaden and Max McCaffrey. McCaffrey has committed to Duke, where he has family ties. Vaden hasn't received much attention from the Buffs. ... Another in-state recruit, Silver Creek quarterback Austin Apodaca, has committed to Washington State. Apodaca was attracted to the Cougars in large part because they run the same offense he runs in high school. Like Vaden, CU hasn't shown much interest in Apodaca.


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