Hawkins Upbeat About CU's Recruiting

Though there's a long road ahead in securing CU's 2008 class, head coach Dan Hawkins likes how the Buffs have started this recruiting cycle. It's one that has CU coaches looking far and wide for prospects, while still focusing most their efforts on key states.

Coaches are not permitted by the NCAA to talk about specific recruits until after they've signed letters of intent, which happens each year in February. From what Scout.com has been able to ascertain, however, Colorado has offered over 75 prospects, and the number is likely higher.

What's striking about the growing list of offers is where the players are located. So far, Scout has identified players in 26 states — from Connecticut and New Jersey to Hawaii, from Florida to Washington — who have received scholarship offers from the Buffs this year.

Are Dan Hawkins and his staff really casting as wide a net as it seems as they try and reel in the 2008 class? Yes and no.

The net is wide in that targets are located in all directions from Boulder. But this is no blind fishing expedition. Rather, Hawkins says it reflects how recruiting has changed in recent years. Nowadays, CU coaches are able to target a single player in a state like Ohio — one they don't typically keep an eye on — in an efficient manner.

"Even 10 years ago it wasn't close to how it is now," Hawkins said. "It's not where you send a (recruiter) to a certain area, he visits all the schools, talks to all those coaches, finds out who the better (prospects) are. … Nobody recruits like that."

Nowadays, thanks to technology, prospects put together highlight videos and get busy promoting themselves, either through services or directly to the various football programs. With an Internet hookup, a phone and a little savvy, coaches can figure out who they want to target in a state where they don't normally spend time. Then, when they hit the road in that area, they can make things happen without wasting a lot of time and energy.

"As you look at going across the country, instead of going in there with a fishing net, you go in there with a spear gun," Hawkins said. "It's so much easier (these days) to wash it down to who are the viable (prospects). Then you say, ‘Are they our kind of guy? Are they our kind of student? Are they our kind of football player? And do we have a shot at getting him?' If those things check out, then you go to work on them."

That doesn't mean the Buffalo staff isn't targeting some specific states with a bigger net. They are.

"We still continue to hammer California, Colorado, Texas and Florida. And then we're going to spot recruit and check out these other areas," Hawkins said.

The number of scholarship offers to players in those states Scout has determined bears that out. CU has offered at least 21 players in California, seven in Colorado, then six and five in Texas and Florida, respectively.

The Buffs' first commitment from a high school prospect this cycle came from a player in Texas — wide receiver Chance Blackmon, from Tatum. Blackmon told BSN in May he may open up his recruiting process again. He did just that in June and is no longer committed to CU.

Still, that CU was appealing to him earlier this spring is significant. Last year was the first time since 1983 a Colorado coach didn't sign a single player from the talent-rich Lone Star State.

When Hawkins put together his staff in January 2006, there was no one with recent ties to Texas. Thanks, in part, to Jeff Grimes – the offensive line coach with Texas roots who was hired in February — Hawkins said CU is making inroads back into Texas.

"So much of recruiting is relationship-based, particularly in Texas," Hawkins said. "That's the football Mecca. You don't just show up and in one year convince those guys that his kids ought to come play for you. But I think that's improving. The addition of Jeff Grimes helped there.

"The second year, the people getting familiar with you and what's going on — there was so much mis- and disinformation before about Colorado, so that stuff is really smoothed out."

Overall, Hawkins is positive about how recruiting is going. (CU currently has five known commitments.)

"I think the interest is really high and we're in on a lot of really good players," he said, adding that it's still early in the process.

As evidence of a better recruiting process this go around, the head coach points to the fact CU hosted a lot more players in their football camp, passing camp and junior day this year than last. (And the players were from all over. When CU coaches handed out awards at their recent camp, they went to players from 12 different states). Being able to personally eyeball players helps speed up the evaluation aspect of recruiting.

Hawkins also said the staff have a better understanding of and working relationship with the admissions office at CU, the people who give input on whether or not a prospect is a viable CU student. The staff is targeting prospects earlier, too. Though coaches are not allowed to talk to juniors in high school, they can begin sending them mail on a certain date. Hawkins said CU is up to speed on rising juniors, and is poised to begin their mailings as soon as the NCAA allows.

Though the number could fluctuate a little, CU will have roughly 20 scholarships to offer for 2008. Tight end, linebacker and safety are the priority positions, in terms of sheer numbers. Hawkins added, though, he always wants good offensive and defensive linemen in each class.

"I'm always looking to fortify the O- and D-line," he said.

And even though he's upbeat about the potential to land a good class, he's far from satisfied.

"People talked about how good our class was (this past February), and I thought it was," he said. "But you'd hope that over the years you'd say, ‘That was a good class, but wow, look what they're doing now.' That's just the nature of the business. I tell (players) all the time, I'm trying to recruit somebody better than you this year. I do that every year."

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