Dykes On Board in Boulder

As the Buffs prepare to open their 2006 season vs. Montana State on Saturday, one member of the squad is trying to learn the names of his new teammates. Safety D.J. Dykes joined the Buffs this week after transferring from the University of Idaho.

As a true freshman at Idaho in 2004, D.J. Dykes had 72 tackles, two interceptions and broke up four passes. Last season, as a sophomore, Dykes made 69 tackles, four interceptions and broke up four passes. One of those picks came in a 70-35 loss at Boise State against the Dan Hawkins-coached Broncos. The Vandals finished the season 2-9.

Dykes was recruited to Idaho out of southern California powerhouse Los Alamitos High School, by then-new Vandal head coach Nick Holt in 2004. Holt left Idaho to coach the defensive line for the St. Louis Rams this past February. Dennis Erickson replaced him.

Dykes participated in spring ball in Moscow, but decided to transfer after the spring semester ended.

"There were numerous reasons, some personal," Dykes said Wednesday about why he left Idaho. "But mostly we lost a lot and I wanted to win games. We had just brought a new coach in and I thought it might take him a couple years.

"I have three years to play two, and I was excited about my opportunity to play at a place like Colorado, and get out of a small town like Moscow. I just kind of felt like taking my chances."

Dykes enlisted the help of his Los Alamitos coaches once he decided to transfer. He had to sell himself to programs, and wanted to play in either the Pac 10, Big Ten or at Colorado, he said.

Though he had never met Hawkins, he had done well in the two games he played against Boise State when he was a Vandal. And CU tight ends coach Kent Riddle recruited Dykes out of high school, when Riddle was on Hawkins' staff at Boise State.

"I knew I had to walk on, but I wanted to go somewhere where at least they knew my name and new what I was about," Dykes said.

When he received an invitation to walk on at Colorado, Dykes went about applying to school, and was accepted in August. He moved to Boulder earlier this month, then began practicing with the team this week when classes began.

Dykes must sit out this season, per NCAA transfer rules, but can practice the entire fall. Asked to describe his game, Dykes said, "I'm a white safety. Like you would expect, I'm a step slower than 90 percent of these guys out here. But I rely on what I know and how I see the field. I have a lot of experience now at the Division I level – maybe not at the Big 12 level, but I've played at some big places. I play patient. I don't make too many mistakes."

While Dykes is still learning the names of most of his new teammates, he's familiar with a couple. His Los Alamitos team played against George Hypolite's Loyola High, and Brandon Nicolas' Mater Dei. Los Alamitos won the CIF Championship in 2002 when Dykes was a junior, then lost in the semi-finals of the state championships to Loyola in 2003.

That 2003 team sent eight players to Division I teams. Dykes played in a secondary that was surely among the most talented in the country. Dykes played beside Antoine Cason and Randy Estes.

Cason, now a third-year junior at Arizona, was ranked as the second-best corner in the country by Phil Steele this summer. Estes was ranked as the top safety prospect in the country in 2003 by Scout.com.

"He was the best high school football player I've ever seen," Dykes said. "I feel like I was a better player just watching him."

But Estes was dismissed from Los Alamitos in November of his senior season after being arrested on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell. He went on to sign with Washington State, but never qualified academically for the school in Pullman.

"It's a pretty sad story," Dykes said.

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