Chaminade College Preparatory High School (West Hills, Calif.) coach Ed Croson is quickly turning into a supporter of Colorado's football program.
"I'm tellin' yah, I'm becoming a Buffaloes fan," Croson said with a laugh in a recent interview with BuffZone.
Croson took time from CIF playoff preparation to talk about his current Eagles and Chaminade's connection with Colorado.
He spoke highly of recent CU commits Donovan Lee and Rick Gamboa and touched on his longtime friendship with Colorado assistant coach Gary Bernardi.
The first subject on tap for Croson was Lee, a three-star 2014 CU commit.
"He's exciting, and he's tough. Yeah, he's a hard-nosed runner," Croson said of the Eagles' senior athlete.
"It's hard to say where he'll be," he continued. "For us, he's a running back, and he just has great field vision and makes guys miss. So, you know, he's exciting because he makes plays out of nothing a lot of times.
"We've had some good backs -- Terrell Newby at Nebraska is one of ours. We've had a number of kids over the years that have been great backs, and (Lee) is certainly one of them.
"Now, that being said, he's definitely a return guy. We don't use him all the time, but I'd like to see his return attempts for return touchdowns because I'm sure ... it wouldn't surprise me if it's 50 percent."
Croson said the best way to use Lee is to get him the ball in space.
"As a slot receiver, I think that's another place that he could play where once he gets the ball he does great things with it," Croson said.
"He's been all state of California underclass as a junior as a defensive back, as a corner. So, just from all that you can tell, he's a pretty athletic guy. It wouldn't surprise me if he's the most athletic kid in that (Colorado) class."
Lee's height may have kept other BCS programs away, but that could be Colorado's gain.
"I think the fact that he wasn't 5-10, everybody's looking for 5-10, and I get that to some extent, but look at Jacquizz Rodgers. ... There's guys playing in the NFL that are under 5-10," Croson said.
"So, I mean he's a football player, he runs low to the ground, he has great vision, he can catch anything, I mean, just a lot of great things about him. Obviously in high school it doesn't make that much of a difference and it does to some extent."
While Lee lines up at defensive back, in the offensive backfield and as a receiver, Croson believes Colorado will find the right spot for the young man when he arrives on campus.
"He can definitely play in that league," Croson said. "They've got a good one coming."
Gaining weight will be a top priority for Lee when he lands in Boulder.
"He's not a heavy kid. He's maybe 170 pounds," Croson said. "He needs to be 185. If he ends up being 5-9, 185 he's gonna be just bullets. He's about four percent body fat. He's got a body, the kid."
Gamboa is a leader for the Eagles and Croson believes he'll eventually be a leader for the Buffs.
"Rick's a great player too ... Rick is a complete player, such a smart football player. He just takes the right steps, goes and gets it and hits hard," Croson said.
"He's a good student and a good kid. Both those guys will do the right thing, stay out of trouble and eventually be leaders for that school."
Croson spoke of the future CU linebacker's passion for the Buffaloes and noted that Gamboa worked on getting Lee to join him in Colorado.
"(Gamboa) is fired up," Croson said. "He's probably one of the reasons they got Donovan, too. It's a small school. We only have 1,300 kids. They're all good friends."
Croson's players are just as passionate about their former coach, as made evident by the words of CU redshirt freshman and former Chaminade receiver Elijah Dunston.
"I just wanted to say that coach Croson is a great coach and man. He came to Chaminade when the program was at the bottom and now you see what all his hard work has done. Bringing the team to its first CIF championship was a big thing," Dunston wrote via email.
"I believe that he will be able to lead his team to a victory in the state championship game. He should win the coach of the year award! He has coached a lot of great players including Donovan Lee and Rick Gamboa; I am fortunate to be able to call them my teammates again! Go Buffs!"
A main reason the Chaminade-Colorado pipeline is flowing so well is the friendship between Croson and Bernardi. Croson spoke of the integrity of Colorado's program in the "dog-eat-dog" world of recruiting.
"I've been friends with Gary Bernardi for like 30 years," Croson said. "He was at UCLA for a long time and a he was high school coach out there and at USC and I went and visited him when he was at UNLV ... That's one of the connections, one of their recruiters has been around us and knows us.
"He's a good guy too, a good person. That's probably one of the reasons he has a shot at some of our guys is because he's an honorable guy. It's important in this day in age, it's a business now. It's rough. To me, trustworthy makes a difference."
It's a relationship that's beneficial for both Colorado and Chaminade.
"Our kids play hard and they play together, we have some guys that maybe aren't tall enough or heavy enough to be D-1 players that are as good of players, they just don't have some of the measurables," Croson said.
With two commitments from Chaminade already lined up for CU's 2014 recruiting class, there could be more in the future.
There's 6-5 senior receiver Brayden Lenius, who has received interest from the Buffs. Croson said Lenius is a "monster," and his recruiting stock is on the rise.
There's 6-6, 305-pound offensive lineman Bar Milo, a junior who picked up a CU offer this week, and 6-4, 255-pound junior tight end Chris Bounds, who also received an offer from the Buffs.
Most notable might be Donovan Lee's little brother, Dymond, an underclassman receiver who already holds an offer from Miami.
"Dymond, he's a good player, he's only a sophomore," Croson said.
Croson thinks the Buffs have a strong chance at landing Dymond, "especially since they have his brother. They're close," Croson said.
Chaminade's coach plans to visit the Centennial State this spring to do some fishing after his team wraps up its season. The 13-2 Eagles take on Enterprise (Redding, Calif.) on Saturday for the CIF Division-II state championship after big wins over Junpero Serra and Hart.
The way things are going, Croson will be coming back to Colorado during the fall, too, to watch more and more of his players suit up at the next level for the Buffaloes.