Spring practices ended over the weekend but Colorado coach Jon Embree was still coaching hard on Monday night in his living room.
Embree hosted members of the freshman class for a dinner at his home. He said he planned to use the opportunity to make sure his youngest players understand how important they are to the future of the program and how they can help the team get better this summer.
"I want to impress upon them that if they're going to be here this summer, just kind of the urgency and the sense of purpose they need to work with," Embree said.
The players who met with Embree Monday soon won't be the youngest and least experienced in the program. Embree and his coaches will welcome nearly 30 freshmen into the fold this summer and the Buffs will be one of the youngest teams in the nation next fall with only eight seniors on the roster.
Embree said he is trying to establish a culture of mentoring in the program. He encourages his players to help freshmen assimilate quickly so there isn't as big a learning curve when practices resume in the fall.
"I think as we continue to grow as a program, it becomes second nature," Embree said. "We have a lot of freshmen who last summer know how things went for them. So if it was bad for them, then they know what not to do and how it felt. So they can make sure that the next guy doesn't feel that way."
Embree said he hasn't been around many teams as young as the Buffs will be in 2012 with only 31 players in the junior and senior classes. He said the 1998 Aloha Bowl team is probably the best example he has to draw upon. That season 40 percent of the starts were made by freshmen and sophomores.
Players in that freshman class became the leaders of the 2001 Big 12 Conference championship team. Embree said coaches must have more patience in a season when the roster is dominated by youngsters.
"If you have enough leadership and things fall the right way, it can be, obviously, a huge benefit to play some guys when they're young," Embree said. " ... You probably have to put your arm around them a little more than what you've been used to."
CU is moving back its camps of high school age players from June to July in order to allow more participation from players and teams on the West Coast. High Schools in California generally don't complete the school year until the second or third week of June, which has limited the number of California prospects who could come to camp in Boulder in the past.
Embree said he believes the change will allow more in-state players and high school coaches to participate as well.
Embree will conduct a pair of three-day camps for kids June 1-3 in Boulder and June 8-10 at Cherry Creek High School in Englewood. The camps are open to kids ages 8-13, but Embree noted, "But there has been a few kids known to get in there before the age of 8."
Embree parted ways with a handful of players following his first spring in 2011. He said he does not expect to have to cut anyone from the roster this year but he emphasized that he is still in the process of evaluating players and it's important for everyone on the team to finish the spring semester doing well in the classroom.
"It would be a minimum amount I would imagine," Embree said. "For the most part kids are handling their business and doing what they are supposed to do."
Richardson a lone wolf
Embree said wide receiver Paul Richardson is the only player he expects to be out of action when fall camp opens on Aug. 7. Embree met with Richardson on Monday morning to educate him about some of what he could expect to experience in the coming weeks as he recovers from surgery to repair his torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Richardson underwent surgery on Monday afternoon and is expected to miss the entire 2012 season.
Defensive back Will Harlos has been granted a medical redshirt season by the NCAA meaning he will be a redshirt freshman in the fall instead of a sophomore. Harlos played early last season, but missed much of his true freshman year with hamstring and concussion injuries. ... Embree said there won't be any uniform changes for the 2012 season but some subtle changes could be in store for 2013. Embree said the Buffs have a good color scheme and he is generally in favor of sticking with the classic Colorado look. ... Embree said he still is leaning toward naming captains on a week-by-week basis in the fall but that will be determined in August. ... As he said in February, Embree expects to have 16-20 scholarships to award in the 2013 recruiting class. ... Seven of the nine assistant coaches hit the road to begin recruiting in the six-week spring evaluation period on Monday. Embree said his coordinators, Eric Bieniemy and Greg Brown, are still in town wrapping up loose ends from spring ball. Only seven assistant coaches can be on the road at any time.