CU Buffs sign 17 football players to NLIs

Colorado uncertain if it will play this week, but bolsters depth for future

BOULDER, CO - December 12, 2020: Colorado head coach, Karl Dorrell, on the sidelines against Utah.  The Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes played at Folsom Field in Boulder on December 12, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO – December 12, 2020: Colorado head coach, Karl Dorrell, on the sidelines against Utah. The Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes played at Folsom Field in Boulder on December 12, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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Colorado’s latest football recruiting class won’t generate much attention nationally or in the Pac-12.

It is a class, however, that head coach Karl Dorrell believes fits the Buffaloes right now.

“It’s impactful players that we think that can help us and, obviously, create better depth,” he said Wednesday after CU signed 17 players to national letters of intent on the first day of the three-day early signing period.

“It’s not a big class, but I think every one of these players are the players that we were looking for specifically, in terms of the style of how they play and how we see them fit in our systems. So we feel really good about the class.”

It was CU’s first signing day since hiring Dorrell in February and it came at a unique time because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the fourth year of the December signing period and in the first three, CU’s season had been completed for at least a couple of weeks before signing day.

Because the truncated season was delayed, however, the Buffs (4-1, 3-1 Pac-12) are still playing. In fact, after getting all of the NLIs in hand Wednesday morning, Dorrell went straight into meetings and then to practice.

“It’s good to get our class that we’ve had committed all be on board and sign and there was no surprises,” Dorrell said. “It’s one hurdle that we’ve overcame and it was finished and done and now we can move to the next phases of developing our program.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, CU still didn’t know if it would play this weekend. The Buffs are on standby in case Southern California can’t play in Friday’s Pac-12 title game in Los Angeles. CU’s equipment truck is en route to Los Angeles, however, in case the Buffs get a late call to play.

“I haven’t gotten any official notice about the conference yet,” Dorrell said. “I know that we are insurance for that game and I haven’t heard anything different.”

Until they do, the Buffs continue go about their business, and on Wednesday, a big part of that was signing the bulk of the 2021 class.

CU’s class ranks eighth in the Pac-12 and 54th nationally at Rivals.com, and ninth in the Pac-12 and 59th nationally at 247Sports.com.

Regardless of the rankings, Dorrell and his staff filled some areas of need at key positions, including defensive back, inside linebacker and the lines. They also signed a four-star tight end in Erik Olsen of Heritage High School in Littleton and a dual threat quarterback, Drew Carter of Tigard (Ore.) High School.

“We’ve specifically recruited them for a particular purpose to be here, so it wasn’t just to take numbers, which I think programs do,” Dorrell said in his philosophy with the class. “Because of the small class and the small senior class that’s leaving, they’re very specific about why we’re recruiting them and why they can help us.

“I want guys that we think that can play and help us right away.”

It’s a class headlined by Olsen and Carter.

Olsen is the only player with a 4-star rating, from Rivals.com, and he adds significant talent to position CU is trying to build.

“He’s going to bring that next level of attitude and athleticism to our program,” CU tight ends coach Taylor Embree said.

Carter is the first player from Oregon to sign with CU since current starting quarterback Sam Noyer in 2016. Carter has visions of playing basketball at CU, as well. He was a conference player of the year in basketball last year, has received Division I scholarship offers and has already talked with CU coach Tad Boyle about playing for the Buffs.

“We felt he was a tremendous athlete,” Dorrell said. “He’s a pretty good basketball player. He comes from a very athletic family. We feel he’s a guy that’s dynamic and can make plays with his legs and throw the football well and he’s proven that in some of his showcase camps and stuff that he’s done in the spring and in the late summer.

“We just think he’s a dynamite talent that can definitely be groomed into playing the quarterback position and do it very effectively with the style of offense that we want, so we’re really excited about him.”

Carter and the rest of the class bought into Dorrell’s staff despite not being able to visit the campus or meet in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They understand the direction that we’re going,” Dorrell said. “They know that they’re a big piece of that. All these players are chomping at the bit. They’re excited to be part of our program and we look forward to them to get here.”

CU’s 2021 class isn’t yet complete.

Punter Ashton Logan (Orange, Calif.) and linebacker T.J. Patu (La Habra, Calif.) are both committed to the Buffs, but they plan to sign in February, per 247Sports.com.

The Buffs will also continue looking for talent among the high school and junior college ranks, as well as in the NCAA transfer portal.

“We’re going to continue to scour anything and everything that can help us, at any position,” Dorrell said. “We’re going to keep our antennas up for anything that might happen between now and February.”