Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer
Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer ( PAUL AIKEN )
FWIW i luv u man. #shouldertoshoulder.

These days young people tend to express themselves in 140 characters or less.

Jon Embree recently challenged his underclassmen to think outside of the Twitter box.

The Colorado head coach asked some of his players to write old-fashioned, hand-written letters to the 28 seniors on the team about what they mean to the program.

Fortunately for their high school English teachers, these documents will not be published.

"That was an interesting exercise to say the least. I read all the letters, and you could tell that this is the texting generation," Embree said with a laugh. "Not that I'm Mr. Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee champ, but golly.

"These guys ... I don't know if Wheel of Fortune is going to make it much longer."

Go ahead and add a crate of Strunk & White Elements of Style guides to the long Christmas wish list Embree has for improving the program.

"It was funny reading the letters," Embree continued. "Some of them, it was like you were reading a letter to Santa."

The shaky prose and sloppy penmanship not withstanding, the letters captured a sentiment that gives Embree hope for the future of CU football.

Even in the worst of times, this generation of Buffs have formed the same unbreakable bond that the great teams from the Bill McCartney era share. In 20 years, this group will remember the friendships more than the road losing streak.


"It was interesting to seehow some of the guys felt about their teammates," Embree said. "There's a lot of guys that care deeply about each other and about their teammates. I was surprised at how selfless a lot of these guys were."

Toney Clemons received a letter from Tyler McCulloch. Actually, it was more of a thank-you note to the senior wide receiver for helping the freshman deal with the pressures of playing at this level instead of being upset about being listed as co-starters together.

"It was a good touch. It was something new. I wish I had a chance to say it to the guys I came up with that were above me when I came into college," Clemons said. "Because it makes an impact on the person. I'm glad coach Embree took the time out to have those guys write us letters and show us that they're in it for us as well, and that we're not alone as a class."

Travis Sandersfeld received a letter from Greg Henderson. The senior starting cornerback had his season derailed by injury while the freshman starting cornerback has learned tough Pac-12 lessons against Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley.

"It was good to know they had our backs and wanted to fight with us," Sandersfeld said of the 15 true freshmen who have played for CU this season.

Tyler Hansen received a letter from Doug Rippy. They arrived on campus together as part of the 2008 recruiting class, but the senior quarterback was never allowed to redshirt like the junior linebacker did.

"He wrote me a long letter, about three pages long," Hansen said. "And it was pretty special."

Before the season began, Embree said he wanted to win for this group. So far, they've only belted out the fight song once in the postgame locker room.

"I'll remember them as a group that really wanted to try and get things done and really try to get this program sent on the right path," Embree said.

Despite four consecutive losing seasons, this senior class will not be forgotten by their younger teammates when brighter days arrive for the Buffs.

"It was good to see it. It validated that a lot of the kids we brought in the last class are the kind of kids that we can continue to build around and are about the team," Embree said. "That is important; we have to be about each other if we are going to be successful."

Fans will have a chance to say goodbye to the large senior class on Saturday when the Buffs host Arizona in the Folsom Field finale.