Sykes — who was on the Washington Redskins roster until he was released earlier this year — recently accepted an offer by head coach Dan Hawkins to work in the football office as an assistant to recruiting coordinator Robert Tucker.
Although Sykes doesn't know yet how much he'll be able to speak directly with recruits in his position, if he is allowed to talk with them per the NCAA guidelines, he thinks having gone through the recruiting process nine years ago will help.
"I know what young guys are looking for," the 26-year-old said. "I know the comfort level that they want and the things that will lure them to be seriously considering a school, and the things that won't."
Beyond his potential impact in the football office, Sykes' hire is significant in another way. Since he was hired in December, Hawkins has said he wants to get former players involved in the program – in formal and informal ways. It's something Sykes said he's spoken about with former teammates.
"We want to feel accepted. We want a coach that when we come around he's going to accept us and welcome us with open arms," Sykes said. "I know a lot of guys – we still talk – they would like to come around, but a lot of times in the past, when they did come around, they weren't accepted. I think with Coach Hawkins, he's going to be receptive to the players that have been there when they come around."
Sykes — who helped out with the recent CU football camp — said creating a welcoming atmosphere for former players will help the current players.
"It's good for the younger guys to show them the tradition and what it takes to win; to be a big brother to them," Sykes said.
Sykes left Colorado following his senior season in 2001 — one in which he played just four games after suffering a serious neck injury. Before that Sykes earned first-team all-Big 12 honors (AP) in 1999 as a sophomore. He's currently No. 10 on the CU all-time tackles list with 330, and most likely would have broken into the top 5 had he stayed healthy in 2001.
He went undrafted in 2002, but joined the Denver Broncos as a free agent. Sykes spent that year on the Broncos' practice squad, then had a solid season in 2003, when he made 63 tackles in 16 games.
Sykes was released by the Broncos in 2005 and signed on with the Redskins earlier this year. He spent the offseason working out with the team, but when the Redskins drafted two players at his position in April, then brought in some undrafted free agent linebackers, as well, the writing was on the wall. Sykes was released in May.
He's not completely given up on playing football, but Sykes said he wasn't going to waste his time sitting by the phone hoping for it to ring.
"Football's going to come to an end some day, so why not prepare for life after football now?" he said.
While he works in the football office, Sykes will also pursue a graduate degree at Colorado. He's leaning toward a master's in education. Sykes said he'd like to pursue either a career in coaching or in athletics administration, with his eye on eventually becoming an athletic director.
"Right now I'm focusing on the offer that Coach Hawk gave me and I'll try and do the best job I can there first," he said.