In the final days – and hours – before the early signing period began on Dec. 18, the Colorado football staff had work to do to land some of their top recruits.
One of the toughest battles came in signing Jason Harris, a four-star outside linebacker/defensive end from Gilbert, Ariz. It wasn’t until late in the day on Dec. 18 that Harris signed his letter of intent, and then he and CU kept it quiet until Harris could announce his choice on ESPNU during the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2.
“We’ve been recruiting him for a long time and (outside linebackers coach Brian Michalowski) did a great job with him,” Tucker said in an interview with BuffZone.com this week. “That was a tough one because he’s one of the top players in the state of Arizona and obviously he has Arizona ties. I was really happy to get him.”
Harris’ father played football at Arizona, while his mother played for the Wildcats’ women’s basketball team. In addition, is brother his currently on the Arizona football team. The Buffs had to beat not only Arizona, but Indiana and many other suitors for Harris, who is 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds.
Harris had 24 sacks as a senior and could provide an immediate boost to the Buffs’ pass rush, which produced just 24 sacks as a team this past season, ranking 10th in the Pac-12.
“Initially his value, and where he’ll be able to help us probably the most early is in pass rush and some of those obvious pass rushing situations,” Tucker said. “Then he’ll develop into a three-down player.”
One of 21 players currently signed for the 2020 class, Harris is the highest rated in CU’s class, which ranks sixth in the Pac-12 and 33rd nationally at 247Sports.com. Rivals.com has CU’s class at No. 7 in the Pac-12 and No. 34 nationally.
“I just thought that our entire coaching staff and our recruiting department really did a good job of hustling and never being complacent,” Tucker said.
The regular signing period runs from Feb. 5 to April 1 and Tucker said CU could “possibly sign a couple more guys” to the class.
The recruiting dead period – where coaches cannot have face-to-face contact with recruits or their parents – came to a close on Thursday. CU coaches returned to the recruiting trail on Friday.
“We’re really using these next couple of weeks as a staff to get out there strong on the 2021, 2022 guys,” Tucker said, “but we do have a couple more targets we’ve got out there (for 2020).”
Tucker’s eyes lit up when cornerback Delrick Abrams Jr., stopped by the office this week.
“I’m really happy that you’re in town,” Tucker said to Abrams. “When you get that degree, I’ll be the happiest dude on the planet.”
“I just have three classes left,” Abrams said.
“Let’s finish strong,” Tucker responded.
“I always finish strong,” Abrams said with a smile. “You saw what I did last semester.”
Abrams has completed his college playing eligibility and is hoping for a chance at the NFL this spring. Around the country, a lot of players in that situation will withdraw from school to train for their NFL shot and then try to come back later. Tucker encouraged several players, including Abrams, Beau Bisharat, Davion Taylor and Alex Tchangam, to stay in school to finish, while training at CU or in Denver.
“You can do both,” Tucker said. “That’s part of the culture that I want to have here is that our guys, when they’re done with their eligibility and they have the ability to stay in that spring semester or even into summer and finish, finish (school) and train here.
“The numbers show that it’s hard to come back and finish. It doesn’t matter what school you are.”
Sauvao to transfer
Defensive lineman Va’atofu Sauvao has put his name into the NCAA transfer portal. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior came to CU a year ago from Modesto Junior College.
Originally recruited as an offensive lineman, Sauvao switched to defense early in August camp, but did not play in any games. He has one year of eligibility remaining.
“He really wants to play,” Tucker said. “We’re going to help him any way we can.”
Former CU receiver Jay MacIntyre will be joining his father on the staff at Memphis. Mike MacIntyre, the Buffs’ head coach from 2013-18, was recently hired as defensive coordinator for the Tigers. Jay, a Monarch High School graduate who played receiver and punt returner at CU from 2015-18, announced Friday that he will be a quality control coach at Memphis, focusing on quarterbacks. Jay worked last season as a receivers coach at Southeastern University in Florida. … Another former CU player, George Frazier, is joining Memphis as a defensive line graduate assistant. Frazier played fullback/tight end and defensive end for the Buffs from 2014-17. Frazier worked with Mike MacIntyre as a graduate assistant at Ole Miss last season.