Colorado head football coach Mike MacIntyre spent a lot of time in January watching high school basketball as he got a jump on his 2019 recruiting class.
While the basketball court may not seem like the place to find football stars, MacIntyre has always been drawn to multi-sport athletes as he builds a football team, and that was no different as he and the CU staff put together their 2018 recruiting class.
The majority of CU’s 23 new recruits were multi-sport athletes in high school, with many of them playing basketball and/or participating in track and field. There’s some baseball and soccer experience among the group, as well.
MacIntyre said this week that if he’s looking at two prospects and both are equal across the board, except that one plays just football and the other is in multiple sports, he’ll always offer the multi-sport athlete.
“For the guy that just plays football, I know he is in the weight room all of the time,” MacIntyre said. “He is coached by the same coach. He is kind of in the same environment all of the time.
“Then I look at the other young man, same situation and he plays football, he plays basketball, he runs track, or he plays baseball. That young man is having to time manage better. He is not in the weight room all of the time. He is playing other sports. So he learning other skills but he is not built up (with just muscle). So he has more of a development stage. He is having to deal with three different head coaches. He is having to be in three different locker rooms. He is having to be in all of these different dynamics of a basketball court situation, a track situation. So to me, he is more well-rounded.”
MacIntyre used cornerback Isaiah Oliver as an example. A star cornerback who has elected to skip his senior year and enter the NFL draft, Oliver was also a star in the decathlon.
“There are seven guys that I have coached, Isaiah being the seventh one, in the secondary that were multi-sport athletes, with over a 3.0 (grade-point average) coming out of high school,” he said. “All seven of those played in the NFL five years or longer. So, I kind of stick by that.”
CU is hoping it continues to pay off, especially with junior college transfer Davion Taylor. The projected Buff back plans to also compete in track and field for CU.
In hiring Ashley Ambrose last month to coach the cornerbacks, MacIntyre changed the makeup of the staff a little bit. Most notably, his own duties will change a bit.
Last year, ShaDon Brown was the lone secondary coach, while MacIntyre, a highly regarded defensive backs coach, did a lot of work with the corners.
With Ambrose on board, MacIntyre said, “It enables me to have a different view of the entire offense and defense (during practice).”
MacIntyre will still be involved with the corners, however. Even when the Buffs had two secondary coaches in 2015 and 2016, he helped that position.
“I kind of enjoy doing drills with the DBs,” he said. “It kind of lets me have an escape for 10 minutes during practice.”
He just won’t be as involved with that position as he was a year ago.
Thanks to a new NCAA rule allowing the addition of a 10th assistant coach, MacIntyre is pleased to have some more balance to the staff, with five assistants now on each side of the ball.
Facing the ‘Huskers
During the next seven months, the Buffs still have to go through spring drills, summer workouts, fall camp and face rival Colorado State in the opener on Sept. 1.
MacIntyre is well aware, however, that many Buff fans are itching for Sept. 8 to arrive. That’s when the Buffs visit Lincoln, Neb., to renew an old and bitter rivalry with Nebraska.
“It’s going to be exciting and our kids are already hearing about it, but we’re not really thinking about that at all,” he said. “We’re thinking about the first day of spring practice and getting better.
“(The start of the season) is going to be unique. We’re going to have two big rivalry games back to back, so we’ve got to make sure our kids are emotionally ready for all of that.”
While CU fans are eager for that game, MacIntyre and the current players aren’t too familiar with the Nebraska rivalry. The teams haven’t met since Nov. 26, 2010. After that season, both schools left the Big 12 Conference.