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2021 Pac-12 Football
Signing Day Central

Dorrell Says New Group Should Be 'Impact Class' For Buffaloes

Dec 15, 2021

BOULDER — Colorado coach Karl Dorrell believes he and his staff put together an "impact class" of Buffaloes with their recruiting haul Wednesday.

All told, the Buffs signed 19 players to letters of intent Wednesday, the first of two national signing days. Dorrell said he plans to add as many as seven more new faces to the 2022 group, either via the second signing period in February or the transfer portal, an avenue that continues to grow in importance.

"They saw the bare bones roots of the process that we're building," Dorrell said of a class that could provide immediate help at a number of positions on both sides of the ball. "To get established this year was important. They see it. Us being able to talk about that in their living rooms helped them understand why we're recruiting then, why we expect them to be great players, why they can impact us and why they can do it in a short period of time."

The group is split evenly, with eight offensive players, nine defensive players, a punting specialist and an "athlete" who could play on either side of the ball.

More importantly, it includes players who could step in and contribute immediately at some "need" positions.

"What I see with this group is that they know we're not far away from where we can be a really good team," Dorrell said. "They feel they can be difference makers in helping us get there in a fast period of time. I think that's the common thread throughout the 19 — being able to compete, being able to help this team win and an avenue for them to do that early."

Most coaches promise incoming recruits a chance to compete right away. But Dorrell and his staff proved last year that they are not hesitant to throw young players into the fray and those youngsters responded with some big moments.

Next fall, those youngsters will have invaluable experience under their belts — and the newest group of freshmen have that as proof that Dorrell will live up to his vow of playing the best players available.

That could mean some moments for any number of players from the latest class, ranging from linebackers Aubrey Smith, Eoghan Kerry and Kaden Ludwick to receivers Chase Sowell, Jordyn Tyson and Grant Page.

(Smith, by the way, clearly has the attention of Buffs inside 'backers coach Mark Smith, who said the 6-3, 215-pounder from Atlanta is a "punishing, instinctive, physical downhill linebacker.")

But the list of players who will have a chance to put themselves in the mix includes most of the class — and that might be the most impressive overall characteristic of the newest Buffs.

There are no "reaches," no hopeful "diamonds in the rough." The Buffs didn't sign players with fingers crossed that they will "grow into the position."

Instead, every member of the newest group of Buffs is capable of vying for a spot on the depth chart. From top to bottom, this might be overall as solid of a group as CU has signed in years.

As mentioned earlier, Colorado coaches will be adding another half-dozen or more players to the 2022 class over the next few months. That could include more true freshmen during the February signing date, as well as some additions via the transfer portal.

Dorrell's wish list includes a couple more offensive linemen (the Buffs signed two tackles Wednesday), an inside linebacker, a safety or two and a defensive lineman.

Also a possibility is another quarterback. While CU did sign a pair of young signal callers Wednesday — Owen McCown of Texas and Oakie Salave'a of American Samoa — only Salave'a will be available in spring ball. 

That will leave CU with just two quarterbacks who took even one snap last fall, starter Brendon Lewis and backup Drew Carter, along with J.T. Shrout, who missed the season with a knee injury. Dorrell said Shrout will be available for some work in the spring.

"There's still some targets for us to try to find, both from a portal standpoint or a freshman standpoint," Dorrell said. "There's still some areas we need to address."

CLASS NOTES: There are two "legacy" players in the latest class. Salave'a is the son of former Buffs standout defensive lineman Okland Salave'a while offensive tackle Travis Gray is the son of former running back Lamarr Gray … Six members of the class are scheduled to enroll in January and be available for spring ball. The list includes Salave'a, Gray, Page, Kerry, punter Ashton Logan and cornerback Joshua Wiggins … Gray is the biggest member of the class, already at 6-7, 295 pounds … Quarterback McCown is the son of Josh McCown, who had an 18-year NFL career …  CU signed players from six states and American Samoa. The list includes eight players from Texas, the most from any state.

Contact: Neill.Woelk@Colorado.edu