Head CU football coach Jon Embree.
Head CU football coach Jon Embree. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )
Perception and reality often are at war. No matter what the reality might be, the current perception is the new football coaching staff at Colorado is off to a shaky start when it comes to in-state recruiting early in the 2012 cycle.

Arvada West offensive lineman Paul Thurston -- widely regarded as the top in-state prospect regardless of position in the 2012 class -- announced his choice Friday and he didn`t pick the Buffs. In fact, Thurston`s choice only made the news that much more unbearable for Buffs fans.

He`s going to Nebraska.

Thurston, a four-star prospect, is the fourth high-profile, in-state recruit to choose to leave the state for college in the past six weeks. Chaparral High School offensive lineman Shane Callahan, another four-star rated player, was wowed by national champion Auburn. Grandview High School tight end Evan Baylis, also rated with four stars, chose Oregon -- the program that lost to Auburn in the national title game. And Mullen quarterback Cyler Miles chose Washington.

It should be noted that Miles` decision came after Colorado already had landed a blue-chip quarterback in Shane Dillon, a product of El Cajon, Calif. CU coach Jon Embree previously said he planned to take just one quarterback in this class. Those two factors likely played a big part in Miles ruling out the Buffs.

In an interview a week ago, Embree said he believed recruiting was going well. Without discussing specific players, Embree mentioned that he was disappointed to hear that several in-state players with CU offers had decided to go elsewhere.Embree and his assistants were successful back in December and January in "flipping" seven recruits in the 2011 cycle who had previously committed elsewhere and making them Buffs. It looks like they will face plenty of those situations again this year.

Flipping Thurston is probably a long shot at best. In fact, Thurston might have ruled out the Buffs because of a decision made by administrators at the school that was completely out of the coaching staff`s hands.

Thurston wants to study journalism and Colorado recently decided to discontinue its journalism program in its current form.

The new CU staff hasn`t completely misfired in-state. Two of the program`s five current commitments are from the Denver area. Clay Norgard, the son of former Buff Erik Norgard, committed to CU several months ago as did Mullen defensive lineman Tyler Henington.

There are still a handful of standout in-state recruits available. Windsor offensive lineman Joey O`Connor, Valor Christian offensive lineman Alex Kozan, Mullen offensive lineman Arthur Flores and Prairie View High School wide receiver Jordan Vaden lead the group that remains.

National signing day is still more than seven months away and the CU staff has a lot of work ahead of it with a full class of 25 scholarships to award. With a large senior class this fall, Embree could choose to over sign and bring as many as 27 or 28 new scholarship players in 2012.