The Colorado football coaching staff was billed as one with a solid, maybe even great, recruiting pedigree when it was assembled just over a year ago.

Perhaps the only unknown in the group was defensive assistant coach Kanavis McGhee, a former Buff linebacker great who played in the NFL but had limited coaching credentials prior to being hired by Jon Embree. He came back to Boulder after serving as high school teacher and football coach in the Houston area.

High praise was doled out for McGhee Thursday after the 2012 recruiting class had been announced, the first full year the staff had to work together.

"He was huge. I always felt like he was a star in the making, not just from a recruiting standpoint but as a coach," Embree said.

Kanavis McGhee
Kanavis McGhee ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

CU's head coach said McGhee was the program's go-to guy with several key situations. He said McGhee was an integral part of landing three prospects from Woodson High School in Washington D.C., three prospects from Upland High School in Upland, Calif., and twin brothers Sean and Jeromy Irwin from Cypress, Texas.

"I think that shows a lot being that it was his first season in college coaching and then being in very different parts of the country," Embree said.

CU offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy once made Sports Illustrated's list of the best college football recruiters in the nation. He is known for spotting talent and reeling it in. Bieniemy said he sees the same quality in his former teammate.


Bieniemy and McGhee played together at CU in the late 1980s and helped lead the Buffs to the 1990 national title. Bieniemy said having a passion for the school always has helped him be a more effective recruiter and he believes the same is true for McGhee.

"He's got some bloodline ties to this university," Bieniemy said. "So it's not a sell to him. He's talking about the things he knows and believes in. He is going to be recognized here in the next few years as one of the outstanding recruiters in the country if you're asking my opinion."


Goals for spring

Embree said Thursday he has already identified some basic goals for spring, but he will meet with his staff over the next month and refine the list and tweak schemes. The Buffs are scheduled to begin spring practice on March 10 with the spring game scheduled for April 14 (4-6 p.m., at Folsom Field).

Embree's early goals are to get the quarterback competition off to a good start, improve fundamentals in every area of the team, improve communication and understanding of responsibilities throughout the defense and building continuity with the offensive line.

No rest for recruiters

Embree said he and his staff are already hard at work recruiting prospects for the 2013 class and even 2014 prospects. He said the staff won't develop its list of top targets until the end of the spring evaluation period in June.

Colorado coaches put together a list of 53 names last summer and they managed to sign 20 of those prospects on Wednesday.


Asked what else he had on his schedule in the coming weeks before the start of spring ball, Embree said, "Sleep."


CU's annual junior day will be held on the April 14, the day of the spring game as it was last year.