Jon Embree is looking for more football guys.

It might seem obvious given the fact that Embree is the head football coach at Colorado and a big part of his job is to recruit football players.

But right there is the twist.

Embree doesn't just want football players. He wants football guys, young men who truly love the sport. Guys who live and die with the outcomes of games on fall Saturdays. Embree sees them as the foundation of the program he is building.

An offseason conversation he had with San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh reinforced that view.

Embree talked with Harbaugh about the rebuilding job he pulled off at Stanford before being hired by the 49ers in the winter. Harbaugh encouraged him to fill his team with as many football guys as possible initially as the quickest way to begin winning more games. Sprinkle in a few star players in each class and a losing team can become a winning team in a few short years.

University of Colorado head football coach Jon Embree answers questions during his weekly press conference at the Dal Ward Center in Boulder, Colorado
University of Colorado head football coach Jon Embree answers questions during his weekly press conference at the Dal Ward Center in Boulder, Colorado October 11, 2011. (MARK LEFFINGWELL / CAMERA)

Colorado travels to play at Washington this week where coach Steve Sarkisian has used the same formula to turn around the Huskies.

Perhaps the best example of a "football guy" on the current roster is running back Rodney Stewart, who has done a little bit of everything this season and continues to want to do more.

"He just loves to play," Embree said. "He's such a competitor and he wants to be the guy who makes a difference every time he is out there."

Embree said he identifies the Rodney Stewarts of the world during recruiting by asking certain questions. Theanswers recruits provide tell him whether they are football guys or the kind of player who might come to Boulder and spend four years on scholarship without ever playing much.

He said he would ask many of the same questions to college players trying to make the jump to the NFL when he had the chance to interview them each spring at the scouting combine.

"When you talk to these kids, depending on how they answer certain questions, some of these kids, they don't know," Embree said. "What you have to find out then is how are they going to react when they get to your school and it might take them two years to play. Are they going to keep working or are they going to look for the easy way out?

"As you continue building this, you have to have football players, guys that love football. Guys that understand the game, understand little things that go on within the game to have success to start winning consistently. Obviously when you start getting elite playmakers that's what takes you to the final level so to speak."

Embree said he already has a strong group of freshmen who he believes will serve as part of that foundation of a successful program in the future. He said despite the team's struggles so far this season, recruits continue to respond favorably to the program in general. CU has 14 oral commitments and is expected to sign a full class of 25 recruits in this cycle, possibly adding more if some of those players can enroll in January and count back to last year's class.

"A lot of them see opportunity," Embree said. "For some kids, they just want that opportunity. A lot of them understand kind of what's going on on the inside. They've been here on trips already and have seen it from the inside out. It hasn't been an issue."

Notable

Embree said Brian Lockridge will miss his second consecutive game with a sprained ankle. ... Senior offensive lineman Shawn Daniels is nearly fully recovered from a severely strained calf muscle he suffered in fall camp and could play as soon as this week.