CU's 2017 class
A list of players that have verbally committed to Colorado for the 2017 class:
High school seniors
RB — Alex Fontenot, 5-11, 185; Richmond, Tex. (George Ranch H.S.)
WR — Jaylon Jackson, 5-10, 150; Cedar Hill, Tex. (Cedar Hill H.S.)
QB — Tyler Lytle, 6-5, 205; Anaheim, Calif. (Servite H.S.)
CB — Chris Miller, 6-0, 175; Denton, Tex. (Denton H.S.)
LB — Chase Newman, 6-1, 205; La Mirada, Calif. (La Mirada H.S.)
OL — Heston Paige, 6-5, 270; Highlands Ranch (ThunderRidge H.S.)
WR — Laviska Shenault, 6-2, 205; DeSoto, Tex. (DeSoto H.S.)
ATH — Dante Sparaco, 6-4, 265; Englewood (Cherry Creek H.S.)
LB — Jonathan Van Diest, 6-2, 235; Englewood (Cherry Creek H.S.)
DB — Jalin Burrell, 6-2, 192, Moorpark, Calif. (Moorpark College)
Jonathan Van Diest is still more than 14 months away from his first college football game at Colorado.
In fact, he's still more than seven months away from being able to sign a letter of intent to officially become a Buffalo next February.
As one of the first two players to commit to CU for the 2017 class, however, Van Diest feels it's important for him to do his part to bring the best talent to Boulder with him.
"It's crucial," the Cherry Creek High School senior said. "You talk about 'The Rise' and the (Twitter) hash-tags we have going on and the motto and the attitude we have, that's where it starts."
CU already has 10 players verbally committed for the 2017 class and that group is building relationships with each other and with those they want to join the party.
Van Diest and Dante Sparaco, who are teammates at Cherry Creek, were the first two to commit, on Feb. 28. Since then, they've been very active on social media and working the phones to get others.
In fact, both of them had multiple conversations with quarterback Tyler Lytle before Lytle made his commitment to CU last week.
"I'm in constant contact with them, asking them questions and they were really helpful throughout the process," Lytle said.
It didn't take long for Lytle to do the same. He committed on Tuesday and was immediately on the phone to Chris Miller. A three-star cornerback, Miller committed the next day.
"He wanted me to do it at the same time and I was like, 'Let me wait a day,'" Miller joked.
Miller added that he is already getting questions about CU from other recruits and he's pushing them to look at the Buffs.
There's no question that CU's recruiting energy has been cranked up a notch in the past year. Assistant coaches, such as co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini, defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt and offensive line coach Klayton Adams have been particularly active on Twitter and they are very popular among the players they recruit.
Other CU coaches, including head coach Mike MacIntyre, have received high praise from recruits, as well.
There's also no question that CU's brand-new facilities are helping matters.
Hearing from fellow recruits, however, is just as critical, and it's why players like Van Diest, Sparaco, Lytle and Miller have become very important to CU.
"It makes you trust in (the school) and in the coaches," Miller said. "If you have other good players going with you, and people that you like, it really gets the worries out of the way. It lets you know you're not going into anything alone.
"Getting advice about recruiting from other recruits that have already committed, I think it's better. They're comfortable. They were like, 'Once you commit, you're going to be in love with it.'"
A three-star quarterback who selected CU over more than two dozen other schools that wanted him, Lytle said his goal is to help collect as much talent as possible between now and signing day in February.
"I'm completely committed to CU, so ... I want good players to be around," he said. "You're only as good as your weakest link and if you have a team of strong guys, I think you're good.
"Right now, I'm really working on some linemen to protect me. I'm only as good as my teammates. It definitely takes more than just a quarterback to be a successful team."
As in-state players, Sparaco and Van Diest have a passion for CU that has been palpable over the past few months on social media.
"It's just a sense of pride when you come to Colorado and you're like, 'This is my home town, I'm going to get the best guys,'" Sparaco said. "I know it's not hard to recruit here."
Sparaco said he believes the momentum started with the players already on the CU roster.
"Last year, they had a great group of guys and started to bring the program back," he said. "I'm just happy I can be in and help build off of what they started. I want anybody who can come here and help us."
Van Diest believes the campus and the city of Boulder are major selling points for recruits, if they will just make a visit. To get them to do that, Van Diest said he promotes the opportunity to be a part of something special.
"I know the commits already that we have and even me, I want to build something and create a legacy," Van Diest said. "We've seen the last couple of years, they've started to build the program. I just want to be a part of that story.
"A lot of guys are trying to create their story and I think this is the best place to do it."
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.