For the past several years, Mullen High School running back Marcus McElroy has known Cherry Creek teammates Dante Sparaco and Jonathan Van Diest.

The three are friends, but not close enough to where they talk or text all the time.

So, McElroy found it strange when, in late February, Sparaco and Van Diest both started texting him.

"We were all supposed to be visiting (Colorado) for junior day," McElroy said. "They never really text me. When they texted me, I was sort of surprised."

Sparaco and Van Diest kept asking McElroy, "What do you think about CU?"

Then, they let him know they were planning on committing to the Buffaloes that week, and they did just that. Sparaco and Van Diest became CU's first commits for the Class of 2017 when they announced their choices on Feb. 28.

More than ever, there's a thirst for collecting verbal commitments as early as possible in the recruiting process.

McElroy, on the other hand, sees value in taking his time. Like his friends from Cherry Creek, McElroy is one of the elite in-state prospects for the 2017 class, and he's seriously considering joining them in Boulder. He's just not in a hurry to make a decision, with national signing day still more than seven months away.

"I told them, 'I like the school, but it's a big decision and I don't want to jump into it now and then regret it sometime or want to take it back,' " said McElroy, who currently lists CU and Kansas State as his top choices. "I want to get my time to look at the school and really get to know some of the coaches."


As a junior at Mullen, McElroy rushed for 1,430 yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 8.8 yards per carry. He also caught 21 passes for 313 yards and four touchdowns and had a 98-yard kickoff return for a score.

At 5-foot-11 and 197 pounds, he's got the ideal size for a college running back. and have both given him a three-star rating. Colorado State, Kansas and Purdue are among the other schools that have offered him a scholarship.

McElroy said he wants to be absolutely sure about his choice before he makes it official, however.

At Kansas State, he loves the coaching staff and the overall football program.

CU has the major he wants (civil engineering), he's grown comfortable with the campus after several visits and has developed relationships with several coaches, including running backs coach Darian Hagan.

"They're moving forward in the program," McElroy said. "I don't see any problems in their future, unless they just don't win any games this year."

That's part of why McElroy is in no rush to make a decision.

"I just want to see a couple games and see these teams go up against good competition and see how they do against good competition," he said. "After a couple of games, maybe I'll make my decision."

In the meantime, McElroy is focused on getting ready for his senior season at Mullen, which features a couple other top CU targets for the 2017 class: defensive backs Isiahia Banks and Christian Cumber.

And the texts from Sparaco and Van Diest keep coming.

Brian Howell:, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.