Colorado football coaches received their first commitment of the 2011 recruiting class in the middle of June from quarterback Nick Sherry of Petaluma, Calif., but they have added just four more recruits to the class in nearly five months since then.

Clearly the results on the field aren`t helping attract prospects. The Buffs are 3-5 overall and 0-4 in the Big 12 and have been embarrassed on national television several times, including a 43-10 whipping at Oklahoma last week.

Those results have led to speculation that the coaching staff will soon be fired, which only exacerbates the difficulties of recruiting to a program that hasn`t had a winning season since 2005 and hasn`t had a dominant season since 2001.

Denver Johnson working with the O-line in spring.Cliff Grassmick / March 6, 2010
Denver Johnson working with the O-line in spring. Cliff Grassmick / March 6, 2010 ( Cliff Grassmick )

Coaches say they are doing the best to deal with the challenge, but make no mistake, it`s quite a challenge.

"It`s not easy there," offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau said. "We`ve got guys who are starting to ask some questions and we`ve got to be honest with them because they can read the paper, too. It`s not a mystery.

"We just have to be very, very upfront with them and very honest, and obviously, we`ve got to try and recruit like we`re going to still be here and we`re the future of the program."

In Kiesau`s case, it`s very likely he will still be here next season regardless of whether the school chooses to fire Dan Hawkins and the rest of the staff.


Kiesau has a multi-year deal withthe school through the end of next season, though it does not include any stipulation that he must be the offensive coordinator.

A new coach could decide to move him back to wide receivers coach, make him a quarterbacks coach, keep him as a coordinator or make him a recruiting coordinator.

Regardless of what his future holds, Kiesau said he is doing his best to continue to build the program as he would in any other year.

Offensive line coach Denver Johnson is taking a proactive approach with the players with whom he is in regular communication. He tells them what he knows as soon as he knows it so that recruits don`t get their information on the program from media or recruiting websites.

"I`m trying to stay out in front of that," Johnson said. "You know? Be honest with the kids. Recruiting is about relationships. You build those relationships and you have to honor those relationships. Kids obviously are going to be concerned about their own best interest and we should be concerned about their best interests, too.

"I think honesty is the best policy. I think right now under the present circumstances, it`s difficult, but you try to build those relationships and as things change, then you go one way or the other from there."

CU coaches have hosted only 10 prospects on official campus visits so far this season. They are allowed to host 56 per year and when they have "banked" leftover visits from the previous year, the number can grown to as many as 61. CU has 61 officials visits available in this cycle.

The program generally hosts the bulk of its official visitors in December and January after the high school season because recruits don`t have the same scheduling conflicts.

Coaches said 10 official visits to this point in the year is slightly lower than past years, but they said they continue to maintain a steady stream of unofficial visitors from local prospects every week.

It also should be noted that CU does not expect to sign a full class once again this year because it is replacing a small senior class.

CU has 83 scholarship players on the roster and will likely lose 13 of 14 scholarship seniors. It remains possible that wide receiver Andre Simmons can redshirt this year and play his final year of eligibility next season.

That means CU can sign, at most, 15 recruits in the 2011 class. Those numbers obviously could change if a scholarship player decides to leave the program for any reasons between semesters.

The drop in official visits combined with the low number of known commitments to the program, indicates CU coaches are facing a challenge in bringing quality players to Boulder in the current environment.

"It`s difficult," Johnson said. "Obviously, there is a lot of speculation out there and even some negativity out there about our program and those types of things. You just have to be honest with the kids. Colorado is certainly a great university. There is a lot of interesting aspects to this and the good thing is, long before signing day the picture is going to clear up."