BOULDER, CO - FEBRUARY 24, 2020:  New CU football coach, Karl Dorrell, is introduce at a press conference in Boulder on February 24, 2020.
(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO – FEBRUARY 24, 2020: New CU football coach, Karl Dorrell, is introduce at a press conference in Boulder on February 24, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Every time Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell has driven on Highway 36 into Boulder, he sees the remarkable view of the city on the horizon.

“There’s not a more magnificent sight than to see our school in the setting right underneath the Flatirons and being right in the setting of the Rocky Mountains,” Dorrell said. “We’re a very unique place. I think our players understand that they like this type of environment.”

It’s all part of the recruiting pitch for Dorrell and his staff, which signed 17 players to national letters of intent on Wednesday.

Scenic views help, but more than anything, Dorrell is trying to build a culture that attracts recruits.

“We’ve got well-rounded kids that school and football, they’re balanced to be motivated in both areas,” he said. “The bottom line, what I’ve told their parents is that I want to create the best version of themselves here at Colorado. They’re going to get great coaching and technique with our assistants with their positions.”

Dorrell also hopes to help players make the most of their opportunities when it comes to name, image and likeness (NIL). The NCAA is expected to vote on NIL legislation next month, which could allow athletes to earn endorsements.

“I want them to create a positive image about themselves and brand themselves and do a number of things; it’s not just football, but it’s to create and do things that represent this program in the right way.

“I want well-rounded players that are fantastic players, but they’re also motivated to do things off the field, motivated to be successful in life. Part of our culture is creating that type of attitude about we want to maximize their potential as young men, not only on the football field but also outside the football field.”

Along the way, the Buffs are hoping winning games will bring in top talent.

CU’s top-rated player in the 2021 class, tight end Erik Olsen from Heritage High School, said he was committed to the Buffs no matter how this season turned out, but CU’s 4-1 record didn’t hurt.

“I feel like I’m even more assured of my decision after watching them play this season,” Olsen said. “It’s not like I’m going to be joining a program that has no future. Obviously, things could turn around in the next few years … but it just feels super good right now that they’re playing well.”

Waiting for an invite

With the Buffs (4-1, No. 25 in College Football Playoff rankings) off this week, they will now wait to get an invitation for a bowl game.

Although some teams have announced they won’t play in bowls, BuffZone has been told by sources at CU that the Buffs would accept a bid.

Linebacker Akil Jones said this week that many of the players are excited about the possibility of playing in a bowl for the first time since 2016.

“Bowl games are special, really,” he said. “We haven’t been to a bowl game since 2016. I was lucky enough to be a part of that group. I want to get the younger guys the experience of bowl games and knowing that when you make a bowl it’s special because if you’re here for Christmas playing football, it means you’re a good football team.”

The Pac-12 has four bowl tie-ins, with a New Year’s Six game, Alamo Bowl, Armed Forces Bowl and Independence Bowl.

CU is one of three Pac-12 teams that have clinched bowl eligibility, while not declaring an intention to bypass a bowl. The others are Southern California and Oregon. Arizona State could join the list with a win this weekend.

On Friday, Utah and Washington became the latest Pac-12 teams to announce they would not accept a bowl bid, joining Stanford, UCLA and Washington State. Arizona, California and Oregon State will not achieve bowl eligibility.

Looking ahead

With the late signing period coming up in February, the Buffs will likely add at least a couple of players to the 2021 recruiting class. The staff is well on its way with 2022, though.

“You have to continue to move forward and build the classes,” Dorrell said. “The ’21 class is great, but with the ’22 class, you have to be up and early in getting those evaluations done. Our staff has done a tremendous job already with looking through those ’22 class members.”

Undecided future

Jones is one of eight scholarship seniors on the roster, but the NCAA has given all players an extra year of eligibility.

Jones, who recently became a father and has been a starter in 10 games over the past two seasons, said he hasn’t decided what he’ll do next year.

“It’s definitely crossed my mind,” he said of returning in 2021. “It’s a tough time all around for everyone in the nation with COVID and everything; people trying to stay safe, and me also being a father; all those factors weigh in.

“But definitely Dorrell is running something special and anyone really can see it. If you’ve been a part of it, you already have that feeling. It’s just a thing that’s going to take some time for me to decide.”