Following a Pac-12 South championship in 2016, the Colorado football team signed its best recruiting class in several years.

A disappointing 2017 season didn't do anything to derail the momentum in recruiting.

On Wednesday, the start of the first-ever early signing period for football, the Buffaloes signed 19 players to letters of intent, sparking what could ultimately be an even better class than last year's crew.

"We've put two good classes together," head coach Mike MacIntyre said. "I was pleased with last year's class. I'm pleased with how some of those kids we redshirted are developing. Hopefully that will pay dividends this spring and this fall.

"It definitely was good to put this back to back together."

From 2013-16, the Buffs had the last-ranked class in the Pac-12 four years in a row. Last year, their class was ranked No. 8 by

While the 2018 recruiting cycle won't be complete until the regular signing period in February, the Buffs' class was ranked No. 7 by through Wednesday.

Where they end up remains to be seen, but ultimately, the Buffs put together a class that filled most — if not all — of the team's major needs.

Credit for that goes to the same staff of coaches that was criticized — and with good reason, in some cases — for the Buffs' struggles during a disappointing 5-7 campaign that left the Buffs out of a bowl game.


"They've worked relentlessly and our whole recruiting staff has done a phenomenal job," MacIntyre said. "They've done an excellent job. It does mean a lot. My dad used to always say recruiting is like shaving; if you don't do it every day it shows. I'm very, very pleased with our staff. They blow me away with their work ethic and their commitment."

Coming off the disappointing season on the field, it was clear that the Buffs needed to get better in a hurry, especially in the trenches.

They addressed that by signing three defensive linemen, including Israel Antwine, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound end that was committed to his hometown Oklahoma State Cowboys until the Buffs flipped him at the last minute.

On the offensive line, they signed 6-foot-7, 275-pound tackle Frank Fillip, holding off a late charge from Notre Dame, which hosted him last weekend.

Antwine and Fillip are both players that could see the field immediately.

"This year we were able to get some guys that were already developed and physically ready that can help us play this fall on the lines, which is exciting for us," he said.

CU is no stranger to playing true freshmen, but in the past, it's often been out of necessity. Now, the Buffs are looking at playing freshmen simply because they could be too talented to keep off the field.

"I see this class as the most (physically) ready class that we've signed," MacIntyre said. "More of them can help us early than we have had in the best. That's a credit to our recruiting, that's a credit to our program improving and getting guys that are a little more developed, which should make a quicker impact for us."

In addition to bolstering the lines, the Buffs added five players to a secondary that's been hit hard by graduation the past two seasons. That group includes junior college transfers Delrick Abrams and Aaron Maddox, who are ranked among the best JUCO players in the country.

Linebacker Davion Taylor might be the steal of the class. A transfer from Coahoma (Miss.) Community College, he's rated as the top JUCO linebacker in the country. He's got exceptional speed and could find himself starting at Buff back from Day 1.

With this class, CU has also added talent at receiver, running back, quarterback and linebacker, and its depth across the board is solid.

"As a coach, you always want more depth," MacIntyre said. "I do think our program is a lot better than when we first got here, there's no doubt about that."

That's a testament to the staff, but also the veterans on the roster. MacIntyre pointed out that when the current seniors signed, CU had a 4-21 record the previous two years. Now, CU's coming off a two-year stretch of 15-11.

"That's a pretty big difference," he said. "(Recruits) saw our competitiveness on the field (this year)."

It was the competitiveness in the weight room and the confidence of the older players that really made a difference, however.

"The thing that sells (recruits) is when you bring them in and they meet the (players) and they go out with the kids and the coaches aren't around," MacIntyre said. "These last two classes show you that the culture of our kids and the belief in our kids is that they believe we're going to be really successful. They like it here at Colorado and they believe in what we're doing."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or