It was the family feeling of the program that led Jason Harris to sign with Colorado in December.
When the head of that family suddenly bolted for Michigan State, Harris and the rest of CU’s 2020 football recruiting class was put in a tough spot.
Luckily for the Buffs, Mel Tucker’s decision to leave CU after one season as head coach hasn’t done much damage to what has been the program’s best recruiting class since joining the Pac-12.
CU introduced new head coach Karl Dorrell on Feb. 24. He and the four assistants he is retaining from Tucker’s staff – Darrin Chiaverini (offensive coordinator/receivers), Darian Hagan (running backs), Brian Michalowski (outside linebackers) and Tyson Summers (defensive coordinator) – have done their best to keep the 2020 recruits on board.
“I’m feeling pretty great (about CU),” said Harris, a four-star outside linebacker from Gilbert, Ariz., told Buffzone this week. “Coach Dorrell seems like a great guy.”
Tucker’s Feb. 12 departure did give Harris some pause, however.
“I’m not gonna lie and say no,” Harris said. “I definitely had thoughts about (not sticking with CU).
“In that situation, you don’t know what type of coach they’re bringing in, what type of defense that new coach is planning on running. At the end of the day, it’s like ‘Wow!’ But in moments like those, you just have to stay calm and know that God has a plan for you, no matter what.”
Although Harris has not had much interaction with Dorrell at this point, he was relieved to find out Dorrell was keeping Michalowski and Summers.
“Yeah, it definitely did (provide relief),” Harris said. “You want to go there and be familiar with the people that you’re going to be coached by. I don’t think much is changing on the defense, but it definitely means a lot (to have them staying). I want to feel comfortable.”
His comfort level is high enough that Harris said he’s “all in” on CU.
“Hopefully I can have a great career there,” he said.
Harris isn’t alone is reaffirming his support for the Buffs, but CU is losing one player from the class: Will Anglen, a defensive back from Cleveland.
Per NCAA rules, a player can request a release from his national letter of intent (NLI). If CU grants that release, the player is free to go to another school. If CU denies the request, the player can file an appeal.
According to CU, Anglen has asked for and been granted a release from his NLI. Tucker’s long-time connection to Anglen’s coach, Ted Ginn at Glenville High School, helped CU to sign him, but Anglen asked for the release because of a family illness and not because of the coaching change, according to CU.
Overall, CU signed 20 high school players and three junior college transfers. Of the 23, seven enrolled at CU in January.
On social media during the past couple of weeks, most of the others have expressed either their excitement for coming to CU or their support for Dorrell.
“I can’t wait to make noise in Folsom stadium,” tweeted Jordan Berry, a defensive lineman from Los Angeles.
Receiver Keith Miller III, from Addison, Tex., tweeted, “How my Buff Family? I’m ready to work!”
Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan (Davis, Calif.), Christian Gonzalez (The Colony, Tex.), Devin Grant (San Antonio), Montana Lemonious-Craig (Inglewood, Calif.), Toren Pittman (Frisco, Tex.) and Brenden Rice (Chandler, Ariz.) have also expressed their commitment to CU.
Adam Munsterteiger of 247Sports.com reported that through the players themselves or other sources, Chris Carpenter (Jacksonville, Tex.), Ashaad Clayton (New Orleans), Caleb Fauria (Attleboro, Mass.), Louis Passarello (Palo Alto, Calif.) Jayle Stacks (Aurora) and Mister Williams (Westlake Village, Calif.) all appear to be on board with the Buffs.