A week ago, Colorado head football coach Karl Dorrell flew home from Salt Lake City and put the 2021 season to rest.
After the loss to Utah on Nov. 26, Dorrell had been on the job for 21 months and two seasons, but he had yet to do one of the most important tasks for a college football coach.
“I’ve been here two years and it’ll be my first time being out (on the road recruiting),” he said after the Utah game. “Can you imagine that?”
Under normal circumstances, no. But, Dorrell hasn’t started his tenure under normal circumstances.
Dorrell was hired on Feb. 23, 2020, nearly three weeks after the previous coaching staff put a cap on the 2020 recruiting class. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and in-person recruiting was halted by the NCAA for more than a year.
The dead period for recruiting was lifted on June 1, which allowed for recruits to finally be able to visit campuses. Many recruits have visited CU during that time, but it wasn’t until Sunday, when the contact period began, that Dorrell could go on the road and visit the homes of recruits.
“It’ll be busy,” Dorrell said last week.
National signing day, Dec. 15, is quickly approaching and CU has 16 players verbally committed for the 2022 class while hoping to get more.
“A busy time but I’m excited about recruiting,” he said. “I’m excited about seeing our guys that we have coming in that are joining us and obviously there’s a bunch of kids that are interested in us that we hope to get them feeling like this is a great place to go with a bright future. So we’re hoping that message is going to be sent.”
Dorrell has been busy all week, as he has visited about 10 of the verbal commits, starting on Monday with running back Victor Venn and linebacker Aubrey Smith, both from Buford, Ga.; and offensive lineman Carter Edwards, from Hattiesburg, Miss.
Also this week, Dorrell has visited six commits from Texas high schools: defensive lineman Aaron Austin, safety Dylan Dixson, quarterback Owen McCown, cornerback Keyshon Mills, receiver Jordyn Tyson and cornerback Joshua Wiggins. On Friday, he visited cornerback Simeon Harris, from Benicia, Calif.
Position coaches have joined Dorrell on the in-home visits, while making visits to other recruits, as well.
CU’s busy time will continue over the weekend with some official visitors. According to 247Sports, the Buffs will have three official visitors this weekend, including two current commits: linebacker Kenny Soares (Avon, Conn.) and edge Kaden Ludwick (Clackamas, Ore.).
In addition, Xavier Smith, from Fairburn, Ga., is visiting. He is projected as a safety.
Durango High School center Joshua Bates, from the 2023 class, is taking an unofficial visit. Bates is currently committed to Oklahoma, which lost head coach Lincoln Riley to Southern California this week. Bates’ father, Justin, played at CU and his former quarterback at Durango, Jordan Woolverton, is a walk-on with the Buffs.
Dorrell and his staff are looking to finish strong with what could be a pivotal class to get the Buffs back on track.
As of Friday afternoon, the Buffs’ class ranked fifth in the Pac-12 and 45th nationally, in part because of the number of commits on the list. All 16 players on CU’s list are rated as 3-star recruits by 247Sports.com.
While the class ranks well overall in the Pac-12, the average 247Sports rating per player (.8564) is 11th in the conference — ahead of Washington State and slightly below Oregon State and Arizona State.
That .8564 average, however, currently stands as the best for CU since it joined the Pac-12 in 2011. It’s a similar rating to the strong class of 2020 (.8563).
CU has already lost its top two recruits from the 2020 class, as running back Ashaad Clayton put his name in the transfer portal this week and defensive end Jason Harris transferred to Arizona last winter.
The 2020 class also included cornerback Christian Gonzalez, receivers Brenden Rice and Montana Lemonious-Craig and quarterback Brendon Lewis.