Colorado football coach Jon Embree achieved one of his primary goals in assembling the 2012 recruiting class when he received an oral commitment from a blue-chip quarterback last week.

Shane Dillon, a 6-foot-5 product of Christian Junior Senior High School in El Cajon, Calif., informed CU coaches he had decided to join the program after visiting Boulder in April and taking several weeks to make his decision.

"That`s huge," Embree said speaking about the need to successfully recruit a blue chip quarterback and not about Dillon specifically. "It seems like a long time ago, but when I came in and started assessing the roster, it was a very thin position at quarterback and this game is driven at quarterback, especially some of the things we do from an offensive standpoint."

Embree signed two quarterbacks in the 2011 recruiting class in February, but neither Stevie Dorman, a product of Somerset High School in Somerset, Texas, or Brent Burnette, a junior college transfer originally from Tennessee, was ranked as highly as Dillon.

Scout.com rates Dillon as a three-star prospect and the No. 16 quarterback in the 2012 class. Rivals.com rates him a four-star player and the 227th best prospect in the cycle.

Embree said he and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and quarterbacks coach Rip Scherer sent a consistent message to every quarterback they were recruiting in this cycle hoping it would resonate with one of their top targets.


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"There were a few positions wherewe wanted to set the table so if there was a great one out there, he saw there is opportunity here," Embree said. "The great quarterback, that's all he wants. That's why you get a quarterback that might be from California but goes and plays at Maryland. They want opportunity.

"I felt like they would see there is opportunity here because Tyler (Hansen) is graduating and then you've got Nick (Hirschman), who had a great spring. The great ones aren't afraid to compete either, but they don't want five of them in front of them where they are saying, 'Golly, it's going to be awhile.' "

It has been awhile since CU has signed a quarterback who was legitimately considered a blue chip prospect.

Failing to sign a premier player at the position was considered one of the primary failings of the last coaching staff, led by Dan Hawkins, whose son, Cody, played four years in Boulder.

Cody Hawkins is the last CU quarterback recruit to be ranked as high as Dillon by the major recruiting services. He was the No. 17 player at the position in the 2006 recruiting class in Rivals.com rankings, but he was not universally considered a blue-chip prospect because of the level of competition he faced in high school in Idaho and his lack of size.

Embree said signing a highly rated quarterback will generally help any program land other top-notch recruits during that cycle because good players want to play with other good players.

"I think it sends a message because generally your quarterback is your leader," Embree said. "So I think it sends a message to other great players out there that, hey, if I'm a receiver, tight end or even a running back, you've got to go be around that because a good quarterback makes it easier to run the ball. If you're a receiver, you know you've got a guy who can get you the ball, a trigger man. So coming in with one, I think, is enticing to a lot of guys."

It remains to be seen whether Dillon has that effect on the 2012 CU class.

Embree said he has taken a lot of heat from boosters and some fans for allowing Brock Berglund to sign with Kansas in February after growing up a Buffs fan and originally committing to CU last summer.

Berglund, in the eyes of some, qualified as a blue-chip prospect after a standout career at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch. He was committed to CU when Embree was hired and initially reaffirmed his pledge after his first meeting with the new coach in December. Later he de-committed and opted to attend Kansas saying he didn't believe his style of play would mesh well with the new offensive schemes in Boulder. 

Embree said he plans to sign only one quarterback in the 2012 class. It's possible the program could continue to recruit players who play under center for their high school teams but might have a future at a different position in college.