Buffs Frosh Middlemiss Is Right Where He Wants To Be
BOULDER - For most high school football recruits, putting pen to a National Letter of Intent is the culmination of a years-long recruiting process, and choosing the school that they want to send it to is the biggest decision of their lives. Not for Dillon Middlemiss. For him, the NLI was a formality, the solidifying of a commitment he had made long before a coach knocked on his door.
"My dad came here (University of Colorado)," Middlemiss said. "It was just an easy decision. It's where I wanted to go. I was a fan since I was a little kid. Always came to games and stuff. They gave me the whole tour but this is where I wanted to go."
Middlemiss appeared on Colorado's radar two years ago, when the staff noticed his size, his toughness, his potential for growth, and his strong academics ' he graduated from high school a semester early with a 3.0 GPA.
"We had a couple nice, long visits," Buffs offensive line coach Gary Bernardi said. "I think his family was happy with everything."
The visit to the 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman may have been the easiest recruiting trip that Bernardi and special teams coordinator Toby Neinas will ever undertake. Middlemiss' other scholarship offers ' from Colorado State and Wyoming ' barely merited consideration.
"They didn't really have to pitch to me, honestly," Middlemiss said of his visits from Neinas and Bernardi. "There was no other choice."
So from the start, CU had the loyalty of the fourth-ranked in-state prospect. Middlemiss started for three years at Pomona High School in Arvada ' at left guard as a sophomore and left tackle as a junior and senior. He was a mauling run blocker for an attack that averaged nearly 300 rushing yards per game.
Middlemiss committed just two penalties in his career; the five sacks he allowed as a sophomore are the only ones he ever gave up, and in his junior and senior seasons he let his quarterback be pressured only twice. Middlemiss shrugged that off as a product of the level of competition in Colorado high school football, but it helped land him all-state honors and got him on the Buffs' radar.
The only school Middlemiss wanted to attend was the first one to offer him a scholarship. A month later, at Colorado's spring game in April 2014, Middlemiss verbally committed.
His decision made, Middlemiss spent the summer installing garage doors with his best friend (he joked that it would make a nice fallback career, should football not work out), then played his senior season free from the recruiting circus.
"I hated recruiting," Middlemiss said. "I hated talking to coaches, I hated them messaging me on Facebook, I hated having to call them. I don't know, something about that bugged me. All the rules and stuff, I didn't really like it. I just wanted to get away, just go to college."
"Obviously, I wanted to talk to the CU coaches," he continued. "I wanted to get that offer, I wanted to become close with them. But I feel like there are some coaches that are a lot more pushy, not as friendly."
Two months after Pomona's season ended with a loss to Valor Christian in the state quarterfinals, Middlemiss was in Boulder, another freshman awed by the size and scope of a college campus as a January enrollee.
"Stepping into Chem 140, the huge lecture hall, is insane," he said. "Just to see 200 people sitting in one room, getting ready to listen to one teacher."
If Middlemiss was as amazed by the college practice field as much as the college classroom, he hasn't shown it. He, Isaac Miller and Grant Watanabe are the Buffs' only freshmen who are participating in spring drills, and they have all acclimated admirably.
"They're doing well," Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre said. "It's kinda coming at them fast, but they're doing good."
That first lecture in Chem 140 was Middlemiss' Whoa, I'm not in high school anymore moment. He'll have plenty of those this season ' the first time he sprints onto Folsom Field behind Ralphie, the first sack he allows. But those are a spring and a summer away.
"Wait and see," Bernardi said of the Buffs' approach with Middlemiss in camp. "Right now, what is it, February? But he's fine. He's doing good."
Right now, it's time for practice, and Dillon Middlemiss is exactly where he wants to be.