Buffs get better with 2012 class

After finishing 3-10, the CU Buffs had a lot of holes to fill. They hope they took care of some of those with a class that ranks among the top 30.

Jon Embree's second class at Colorado yielded him 28 players, including a four-star recruit at cornerback.

"Today we got better," Embree said. "The Buffaloes definitely got better."

It's hard to argue that. Colorado was 3-10 a year ago and had a defense got torched way too many times.

"I felt bad for some of the opposing team's cheerleaders in a couple of those games, all them push ups," Embree joked, referencing the common tradition of cheerleaders to do pushups after each score. "Hopefully we can slow that down a little bit."

Colorado addressed its two biggest areas of need: defensive line and defensive back, signing nine linemen and five DBs.

"Defensive backs and D-line were two areas of emphasis for us this year," Embree said. "If you watched us play last year, you know we had some issues at those positions from a depth standpoint. We feel like we addressed those appropriately in this class."

The Buffs also got a little of everything on offense, with two linemen, three tight ends, three receivers, three running backs, two fullbacks and one quarterback.

In all, it's a class that Scout.com ranked No. 29 in the country. That's a significant step in the right direction for Embree and his staff, who just completed their first full year on the job.

Still, Embree looks around the conference and knows the Buffs aren't there yet. Their class ranked sixth in the Pac-12, with Utah and California not far behind. The Pac-12, in fact, had 11 schools with classes that ranked No. 46 or better. The only school that didn't was Washington State at No. 60.

"There was a lot of carnage in this conference with recruiting, to say the least," he said of the battles teams had for certain players. "You have to improve. It's going to be very competitive (in coming years). I feel good about our staff and our ability to recruit in this conference."

The next step to better recruiting, however, needs to be taken on the field.

"As we get more successful (on the field) I hope that translates, first off, to kids wanting to stay home and be a part of it," Embree said. "Then, maybe we don't finish second on some kids like we did this year."

Although he didn't mention them by name, Embree was most disappointed to lose four-star tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick to Southern Cal and three-star tight end Taylor McNamara to Oklahoma. The Buffs were believed to be the No. 2 choice for both players.

"If you're a half-full guy, that's good that you finished second to them," he said. "But, if you're looking at it from a competitive standpoint, you want to get those kids.

"The last piece, for winning some of those battles is winning. The sooner, the better."

Other items of note from Embree's press conference:

  • The Buffs landed 10 players from California and seven from Texas, but only three from Colorado. "We didn't do a good enough job (in state)," he said.

  • Kenneth Crawley, John Walker and De'Jon Wilson -- dubbed the DC3 -- all signed from H.D. Woodson High School in Washington, D.C. Embree said, "Our footprint expanded, now D.C. is an area we're going to be going regularly."

  • CU signed four cornerbacks: Kenneth Crawley, Jeffrey Hall, John Walker and Yuri Wright. "We sat down and watched all the corners and ranked them, and we got our top four," Embree said.

  • With only two offensive line recruits, the Buffs will be a bit thin in the trenches, but Embree isn't worried. "We feel good about where our line is at," he said. "Is it great depth, as far as three deep? Probably not, but at the same time we had other pressing issues that we needed to fix."

  • Of the 28 players who signed, Embree said 75 to 80 percent of them could earn playing time this fall. Most notably, all 14 defenders will be in the mix early on.

  • CU still has one open scholarship. "You kind of like to keep one in your pocket," Embree said. "You never know what happens down the line."

  • Embree said he and his staff are still trying to catch up a bit on recruiting, but have looked at some players from the 2013 and 2014 classes. "Not only is recruiting year-round, but identifying people early is huge," he said.

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