Nearly three months after a come-from-behind performance from an opponent ended the tenure of his predecessor, first-year Colorado football coach Jon Embree detailed a fairly impressive come-from-behind effort of his own on national signing day.
Embree announced his first recruiting class Wednesday, less than two months after being hired.
The class consisted of 18 recruits and one grayshirt from last year's class at the time of his late-afternoon press conference. Later in the evening, another prospect added his name to Embree's list bringing the total to 19 new members of the program.
Considering Embree had just two holdovers in the class from the previous coaching staff, plus the grayshirt, and the fact that he also had to assemble a coaching staff before turning his attention to recruiting in earnest, he seems to have done well.
The class includes eight players who had been committed to play for other programs such as Boise State, Washington, UCLA, Arizona State and Wake Forest. Embree boasted about his staff's ability to "flip" those players with only 13 days of off-campus recruiting.
Do the math. Twenty recruits, minus the three holdovers, equals 17 players successfully recruited in 13 days.
"I think that says a lot about our coaching staff," Embree said. "We're going to be a staff to be reckoned with."
The class features 18 high school prospects and junior college quarterback Brent Burnette, who is already enrolled in spring semester classes and will participate in spring ball next month.
There were eight offensive players, nine defenders, a place-kicker and one athlete whose position will be determined later.
Embree said he was able to secure signatures on national letters of intent from all but six or seven of the players the staff had targeted over the past month. Considering all the facts, Embree said he is pleased with how the class came together.
"We were able to convince them and show them what we had and what Colorado is all about," Embree said. "We were able to get them to want to come and be a part of this program, and we're very excited about it."
The class includes only one player rated with four stars -- offensive lineman Paulay Asiata, a prospect from Hawaii who chose the Buffs over Washington and was one of the nine flipped players. Scout.com ranked Asiata a four-star player and the 21st best tackle in the nation this year.
The major recruiting services didn't have Colorado's class ranked among the top 50 in the nation for the second year in a row. Scout.com ranked the Buffs No. 60 and 10th in the Pac-12 ahead of both Arizona schools. Rivals.com ranked the Buffs 11th in the Pac-12 ahead of only Washington State.
Embree said he formulated a plan in December as he reviewed tape of every game last year and evaluated the roster from top to bottom while also interviewing and hiring coaches. He said his goals with the class were to balance the roster, find players who could help the program immediately and upgrade speed with a move to the Pac-12 looming next season.
There were some disappointments and Embree acknowledged
The two most prominent names in that category where wide receiver Devin Lucien, a product of Encino, Calif., who opted for UCLA, and linebacker Leilon Willingham from Mullen High School in Denver, who chose Central Florida.
Lucien, sources said, was the top player on the CU staff's recruiting board during the final month of the recruiting cycle. Now the Buffs will have to face him each year in the Pac-12 South Division.
When asked if there was a position where he would have liked to add another player, Embree said he can never have too many defensive linemen and would have liked to get one more wide receiver.
In his next breath Embree said he has been excited about what he has seen on film from junior-to-be Will Jefferson, who has played wide receiver his first two years in Boulder, but was also moved to running back late last fall.
When he was hired, Embree said publicly that he expected to sign just 12-15 players. On Wednesday he explained that some attrition in the program over the semester break and the way his coaches were received by talented players on the recruiting trail led to the class growing.
"We have some pretty good coaches," Embree said. "We have some coaches that know how to recruit. We've got some coaches that are relentless. That's important in recruiting. You can't take no."
Embree emphasized that "nobody's job is safe on this team."
He said spring practices would be highly competitive and that his goal would be to continue to raise the bar of competition each year going forward.
"Everyone in this class, I'm brining in someone next year to beat out everyone in this class," Embree said. "If they can't beat them out, great because that means all these kids in this class are raising their level. And all the guys on this team, they know I'm bringing in guys to beat them out, and if they can't beat them out, then they're handling their business. That's how it has to be."
"...Kids, everyday we go out there, whether we're lifting, running or practicing, has to feel like, 'I've got to earn my job today.' Because they all want to play in the NFL. Well, that's the NFL."
Embree will introduce the class to fans today at a luncheon in downtown Denver at the Hyatt Hotel. Then he will turn his attention toward spring ball and turning the program around on the field next fall.
"I can't wait to start coaching these guys," he said.