Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
While operating a winning team may not necessarily make recruiting easier for any football coach, it does eliminate the hurdle of convincing young players that big victories and nationally-relevant matchups are on the horizon.
Getting to a bowl game for the first time in nine seasons makes that task even less arduous.
As the Colorado Buffaloes continue preparations of their Dec. 29 date in the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State, the coaching staff not only is preparing for a game but also using the extra workouts to gain a springboard on the 2017 campaign. That foresight extends to the recruiting trail, as for the first time in his tenure head coach Mike MacIntyre can use the fact that his Buffs were ranked 10th in the final College Football Playoff poll entering the bowl season as part of his sales pitch.
Simply put, reaching a conference championship game in addition to a marquee bowl gives any program a bigger share of the national spotlight. If potential recruits are talking about the Buffs more, the introductory phase of any recruit meeting
“Any time you win football games and you’re more and more on television, and you’re out in the media more and everything is going well, that always helps,” MacIntyre said. “The thing that I think it definitely helps with is what I call the undercurrent that you can’t overcome in recruiting. What I mean by that is…most of the kids, when they were younger, they’ve never seen Colorado be good until now. (A player) might commit and three or four people are, ‘Why do you want to go to Colorado? They’re terrible.’ You can’t overcome that.
“But now when they walk down the hallway, ‘Man, did you see that game? You ought to go to Colorado.’ His uncles, his aunts, all those people are helping that undercurrent, and that’s what I’ve noticed more and more. I’ve noticed it when I go out somewhere to get dinner. More and more people are just excited about Colorado football. You can’t underestimate that in recruiting.”
CU’s incoming class for 2017, ranked 19th nationally by Scout.com, received a huge boost last month when Pomona four-star lineman Jake Moretti flipped his verbal commitment from Ohio State to Colorado, a turn of events that would have been unlikely just a few short years ago.
Moretti’s change of heart adds to a list of in-state commits for the Buffs’ 2017 freshman class that also includes ThunderRidge offensive lineman Heston Paige and Cherry Creek linebacker Jon Van Diest. For local products like junior running back Phillip Lindsay, the hope is that a new winning tradition once again makes Boulder the premier destination for in-state Division I prospects.
“Honestly, I feel like we can recruit more locally,” Lindsay said. “I want to see more of our local guys here. I want to be part of that. Hopefully we continue to get more local guys. Obviously (a bowl game) is going to help out because you do get more of the big-time recruits and JUCOs that you need. Hopefully we continue this down the line and it continues to build.”
Every year, coach MacIntyre has always promised his entire family bowl tickets when the Buffaloes finally returned to postseason play. That was an empty promise during his first three seasons, yet the family is more than making up for those past missed opportunities this year.
“We have so many people coming to the game. Pretty much our whole family,” sophomore receiver Jay MacIntyre said. “We’ve promised them bowl tickets since we got here and we haven’t been to a bowl, so now everyone is coming and a bunch of friends. It means a lot to my dad and my whole family. We always wanted to be at a big bowl, and the Alamo Bowl is one of the biggest bowls out there.”
Safety Tedric Thompson is among a small group of CU seniors who likely will begin making preparations for the NFL Draft Combine as soon as the bowl game is complete. For his part, Thompson said he won’t start changing his focus until after the Alamo Bowl.
“I try to take everything day by day, so I don’t really have too much thought into it,” Thompson said. “My dream has always been to play in the NFL. If not, I’ve been focused on the full four years I’ve been here. Either way, God is going to lead me in the right direction.”