Kyle Ringo
Kyle Ringo

The reinforcements have arrived for the Colorado football program, but fans will have to wait a little longer than expected to really get to know members of the freshman class.

Coach Jon Embree has decided freshmen won't be allowed to do interviews with members of the media until after the first game of the season Sept. 1 against Colorado State. Embree was undecided about whether there would be unfettered access to freshmen at that point or if they would only be allowed to do interviews after games throughout the season.

Embree told me earlier this summer he doesn't see this being his long-term policy with every group of freshmen he recruits to Boulder. But he believes it's important to limit the distractions this group of freshmen will have because he expects a large number of them to be playing this fall, a handful are even candidates to start their first college game.

Some of these same concerns are also behind Embree's decision to close most, if not all, August practices to the public.

Embree signed 28 players to national letters of intent back in February. Since then, he has announced that three of them will grayshirt, delaying their enrollment until January. Though no official announcement has come yet, it's looking like defensive end Kisima Jagne, a product of Chandler, Ariz., may not qualify academically and might have to start his college career at a junior college.

That means there will be 24 true freshmen scholarship players on this year's roster, assuming the grayshirt plans haven't changed.


You can't really blame Embree for choosing this approach. After all, he is coaching the youngest team in the nation this fall, according to college football analyst Phil Steele, whose preseason magazine features a chart analyzing the experience level of 124 teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision.

I chuckled recently when Bruce Feldman of included the Buffs among the 10 weakest nonconference schedules in the nation this season. Obviously, Colorado State, Sacramento State and Fresno State is not an imposing lineup and certainly not the standard nonconference slate CU fans have come to expect, but I wondered whether Feldman considered how young the Buffs will be when he made them No. 4 on his list.

When you consider CU has only eight seniors and it's possible that nearly 30 true and redshirt freshmen could see playing time, it's a lot easier to see the Buffs stumbling in one or more of those September games.

And that is why Embree wants his freshmen focused on football and not worried about what's being written about them when fall camp opens Aug. 7.

He doesn't want cornerback Yuri Wright to have to do 20 interviews about the inappropriate Twitter posts that got him expelled from his New Jersey High School during the winter. He wants freshmen quarterback Shane Dillon completely engaged in learning the offense, giving him the best opportunity to push older teammates such as Connor Wood and Nick Hirschman for a place on the depth chart.

He knows that freshmen are going to play major roles at defensive line, running back, wide receiver, tight end and in the secondary. He knows their heads are going to be spinning and he's doing what he can to help them get up to speed quickly.

Embree is certainly not alone. Dozens of college coaches across the nation regularly limit media access to freshmen. Of course, doing so doesn't prevent stories from being written about the youngsters. They are just written with perspective from coaches and older teammates.

Meanwhile, CU basketball coach Tad Boyle has taken the opposite approach with his stellar class of six freshmen. Boyle has allowed his players to do interviews and interact with the media almost since the day they stepped on campus.

Boyle, who is taking his team to Europe in August, wants his players to be accustomed to dealing with the media by the time they begin full-scale preparations for the season in October. Getting them acclimated now to regular interaction with the media will give his greenhorn group one less distraction in the fall.

Media members and fans generally favor Boyle's approach for obvious reasons, but improvement in the football program is badly needed this fall, and if Embree believes sheltering his freshmen will help achieve that goal, no one is going to argue the point.

CU fans will patiently wait another month to hear from freshmen, especially if it means they will also see them doing interviews about a bowl game in December.