Throughout 2016, the Colorado football team gained a tremendous amount of momentum on the recruiting trail.
Now, the Buffaloes are aiming to close with a bang.
National signing day on Feb. 1 is less than four weeks away and in that time, the Buffs are hoping to keep a strong list of commitments together, while adding a few more quality players to the mix.
"It's a special group," CU co-offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. "If everybody stays in, it'll probably be the best class Colorado has signed in the last 15 years."
CU recently signed four junior college players and currently has 21 high school players verbally committed to sign on Feb. 1. Among the prep players, 17 have been committed since the summer.
"It's a good thing and a bad thing," Chiaverini said of having so many early commitments. "When you have them committed for a long time, they develop relationships with each other, which is a good thing, because they feel like they're vested in this thing together."
The negative is that players sometimes have a last-minute change of heart, as opposing coaches give them the full-court press. A few of CU's commitments have taken — or have scheduled — official visits elsewhere.
"Are non-commitments part of this business? Yeah, definitely," Chiaverini said. "That happens a lot. Guys will de-commit for whatever reason, but we feel like we've done a really good job with this class and now we have to get them to the finish line."
Beginning Friday, when the recruiting dead period ends, Chiaverni and the rest of the coaches will travel all over the country trying to get the recruits to the finish line.
CU is hoping to finish the recruiting cycle better than it finished the season on the field.
The Buffs has a resurgent season, going 10-4 and winning the Pac-12 South division. They were soundly beaten in their last two games, however, falling 41-10 to Washington in the Pac-12 title game and 38-8 to Oklahoma State in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
CU has also lost two defensive assistants — coordinator Jim Leavitt and cornerbacks coach Charles Clark. Both left the Buffs to take similar jobs at Pac-12 foe Oregon.
Friday's news that safeties coach Joe Tumpkin has been named in a domestic violence complaint was another dent to the program. Tumpkin has been a candidate for the defensive coordinator job.
Despite the negatives in recent weeks, Chiaverini believes CU's verbal commitments are solid.
"The kids still want to be here," he said. "That just shows you what Colorado is about.
"We have to keep improving the roster and the only way you do that is by recruiting and I think players see that. They see that we've had some success, but they also feel like they can come in and help right away, which is a win-win for us."
If the Buffs do keep the class together, it's one that could make an impact all over the field.
Offensively, the Buffs are slated to bring in a top-notch quarterback, a running back, four receivers and a handful of offensive linemen.
Led by four-star recruit Jake Moretti of Pomona High School, this has the potential to be the best group of offensive line recruits by CU in years.
Including the four JUCO players recently signed, the Buffs are slated to add five defensive linemen, five linebackers and four defensive backs.
"We're pretty full on both sides and we have a really talented class," Chiaverini said.
Retaining the commitments is the top priority, but the Buffs are also looking to add another two or three players to the list.
Last month, the Buffs signed JUCO defensive tackles Javier Edwards and Chris Mulumba, but they don't have any commitments from prep players at that spot.
"You want to be able to sign a high school kid you can develop in the next couple of years," Chiaverini said.
CU coaches can't talk about unsigned players, but it does appear that Damion Daniels (6-foot-2, 320 pounds) of Bishop Dunne High School in Dallas is a top target at defensive tackle. He visited CU last month.
Other non-committed players to keep an eye on over the next few weeks include: tight end Josh Falo and safety Trajon Cotton from Inderkum High School in Sacramento; outside linebacker Isaac Slade-Matautia from St. Louis High in Honolulu; defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson of North Shore High in Galena Park, Texas; and safety Brian Edwards of Miramar, Fla.
Falo is the younger brother of current CU linebacker NJ Falo.
Several players will take official visits to CU during the final two weekends of January and CU is hoping the overall momentum gained from a 10-win season will make for a strong finish in recruiting.
"Obviously we had a great season," Chiaverini said. "It's something to build on."
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.
Colorado's 2017 recruiting class
A list of the players CU has signed or received verbal commitments from for the 2017 football recruiting class (star rating from Scout.com):
Junior college players who have signed letters of intent and plan to enroll this month:
DT - Javier Edwards, Blinn College, 6-foot-3, 350 pounds (3 stars)
DE - Shamar Hamilton, ASA College in Miami, 6-4, 230 (3 stars)
DT - Chris Mulumba, Diablo Valley College, 6-4, 280 (no rating)
DB - Dante Wigley, Holmes CC, 6-2, 188 (3 stars)
High school players expected to sign letters of intent on Feb. 1:
WR - Maurice Bell, Murrieta, Calif., 6-0, 170 (3 stars)
DE - Jacob Callier, Bellflower, Calif., 6-2, 247 (3 stars)
RB - Alex Fontenot, Richmond, Texas, 5-11, 185 (3 stars)
WR - Jaylon Jackson, Cedar Hill, Texas, 5-10, 171 (3 stars)*
OLB - Nate Landman, Danville, Calif., 6-3, 210 (3 stars)
S - Isaiah Lewis, Granite Bay, Calif., 6-0, 195 (3 stars)*
QB - Tyler Lytle, Anaheim, Calif., 6-4, 210 (3 stars)*
CB - Chris Miller, Denton, Texas, 5-11, 173 (3 stars)
OL - Jake Moretti, Arvada, 6-5, 290 (4 stars)*
LB - Chase Newman, La Mirada, Calif., 6-2, 210 (3 stars)
OL - Xavier Newman, DeSoto, Texas, 6-3, 272 (3 stars)
WR - K.D. Nixon, DeSoto, Texas, 5-8, 175 (4 stars)
ATH - Sebastian Olver, Kentfield, Calif., 6-5, 248 (3 stars)
CB - Morrell Osling, Lancaster, Calif., 6-3, 170 (3 stars)
OL - Heston Paige, Highlands Ranch, 6-5, 270 (3 stars)
OL - Grant Polley, Denton, Texas, 6-4, 285 (3 stars)
WR - Laviska Shenault, DeSoto, Texas, 6-1, 203 (4 stars)
OL - William Sherman, Allen, Texas, 6-3, 294 (3 stars)
DE - Dante Sparaco, Englewood, 6-5, 245 (3 stars)*
LB - Jonathan Van Diest, Englewood, 6-1, 235 (3 stars)
DE - Carson Wells, Bushnell, Fla. (2 stars)
* Player intends to enroll this month and take part in spring football.