Billingsley Back in School

Inside, some news on J.J. Billingsley, Terrence Wheatley, Patrick Williams and Chris Hollis. Also, Gary Barnett talks about some issues on his mind for discussion at the annual Big 12 meetings, including the proliferation of recruit scouting combines.

Billingsley, CU's most experienced safety, spent most of 2004 out with a knee injury. He received a medical redshirt, but was suspended from the team this spring for academic reasons.

The former Sporting News Freshman All-American will enroll in summer classes. Gary Barnett said Tuesday there is a chance Billingsley will be back with the squad in the fall, depending on how he does in the classroom in the coming months.

"J.J.'s reinstatement will depend on his academic performance in the summer," Barnett said.

Billingsley had 67 tackles, including seven tackles for loss, as a true freshman in 2002. The following season he had 94 tackles and two interceptions. If he becomes eligible and can regain the form he showed in his first two seasons, it should be a big boost to the CU secondary.

Barnett also said Tuesday that cornerback Terrence Wheatley's injured wrist is healing well. Wheatley, who severely injured the wrist last year, but played the latter part of the season with the injury, missed spring ball to rehab the wrist. Doctors have questioned whether or not Wheatley could ever play again, and it's still undetermined whether or not Wheatley will be cleared to play in the fall or take a redshirt year.

However, on Tuesday, Barnett sounded positive on Wheatley's prospects of playing again, though he said it's still too early to tell if it will be this fall. He said Wheatley is no longer wearing the metal medical contraption on the outside of his arm he's worn the past months.

Wheatley is one of the two fastest players on the team, and the Buffs are desperate for speed in their secondary.

Meanwhile, Barnett confirmed that both Patrick Williams (broken hands) and Chris Hollis (neck) received medical redshirts for last season.

Big 12 meetings on tap
Barnett said two issues are on his mind that will be addressed at the annual Big 12 meetings, held later this month. One is instant replay.

After the Big Ten experimented with instant replay last season, seven of the 10 major-college conferences will use instant replay in 2005, including the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Mountain West, SEC and Pac-10.

The NCAA has given its conferences a June 1 deadline for detailing exactly how the instant replay will be implemented in their leagues. The Big 12 is considering using a modified version of what the NFL uses.

Another issue on the Colorado coach's mind involves the proliferation of recruit combines hosted by private companies, such as

The combines provide recruits an opportunity to impress college coaches and recruiting gurus who run various recruiting services. Barnett said constant access to recruits by recruiting gurus is having an affect on recruiting.

"For one thing, they have constant access to kids, and you don't know what's being said," Barnett said. "There are guys who are saying things to kids out there. There isn't a person in this country that's objective in everything they do, much less a guy who has subjective access to (recruits) anytime he wants. …They tell them, ‘Don't commit.' They tell them, ‘Wait until the Army All-Star game.' They're manipulating these kids like crazy."

Barnett also pointed out the logistical problems that combines can create. The NCAA allows college coaches to evaluate a recruit in person just twice. Most coaches want to do one of those evaluations at the recruit's high school. After that, it becomes difficult to regulate.

"So if we go to his school, and then go to a combine and then try to go to another combine, if some of the same kids show up, you may have committed a violation," Barnett said. "But there's no way that you can chart all that."

As he has said in recent years, Barnett reiterated that the NCAA's rules on recruiting haven't caught up with the reality of the game. For example, coaches are allowed to call a recruit just once in the month of May (though recruits can call coaches), then once per week in the fall, beginning in September. But many players are making verbal commitments before the fall these days, which means they make up their minds before coaches can create a relationship with them.

It's also where, according to Barnett, some recruiting experts come into play in a nefarious way.

"Just the lack of objectivity that we as coaches run into — there are guys calling and saying, ‘Don't do this, don't do that. Don't commit to this school, blah, blah, blah.' It drives parents nuts, it drives kids nuts. But it's become a huge business," he said.

So what can be done from a coach's perspective? The NCAA regulates coaches' contact, but can it affect others?

"I don't know if you can solve this thing," Barnett said. "Can (the NCAA) affect those other people? I don't know."

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