Following Colorado’s home finale on Nov. 20, outside linebacker Carson Wells came back out to the Folsom Field grass.
Still in partial uniform, he sat down, leaned against the north goalpost and looked around the empty stadium. He knew then that he had played his last game at Folsom.
On Monday, he made it official, announcing on social media that he will skip his final season of eligibility and enter the 2022 NFL Draft.
In a post directed to Buff Nation, he wrote, “The last five years at the University of Colorado have been a blessing. I have relationships and memories that I will cherish forever.”
He thanked former head coach Mike MacIntyre and defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt for recruiting him to CU. He also thanked current head coach Karl Dorrell and outside linebackers coach Brian Michalowski, as well as other staff members.
“Most importantly, I would like to thank my teammates,” he wrote. “You guys are who I played for and I appreciate the opportunity to take the field with you and get to know every one of you. With all of this being said, I would like to officially declare for the 2022 NFL Draft.”
Under normal circumstances, Wells would have exhausted his eligibility this year. However, because the NCAA granted all players from 2020 an extra year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wells had the option to return in 2022.
With a degree in hand, Wells will pursue a pro career after a stellar run at CU.
The national leader in tackles for loss per game in 2020, Wells posted 182 tackles, 38 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks during his time with the Buffs. Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd is the only player in the Pac-12 with more TFLs than Wells over the past two seasons, 32 to 29.5.
Also on Monday, Wells and inside linebacker Nate Landman both accepted invitations to play in the 2022 East-West Shrine Bowl. That game will be held Feb. 2 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Four years after the implementation of a December signing period in college football, there is already some momentum to change it.
A flurry of coaching moves this season, as well as the explosion of the NCAA transfer portal has altered the landscape in recruiting, causing some to re-evaluate the college football calendar. It’s possible this year will be the last December signing period.
CU head coach Karl Dorrell, however, said he’s in favor of keeping the December period.
“I believe in the two signing dates for particular reasons,” Dorrell said Wednesday after signing 19 players to national letters of intent for CU’s 2022 class. “I actually like the way it is right now. I’ve kind of adapted to it.”
Dorrell said he likes being able to sign committed players early and utilize January to focus on the final few spots in the class. After signing 19 on Wednesday, Dorrell said the Buffs would add “maybe seven more.” The Buffs then added another player Friday and a JUCO transfer on Saturday.
Dorrell has been on the job at CU for 22 months, but it wasn’t until the past month that he was able to go on the road and recruit. NCAA restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic limited much of the recruiting to virtual.
Dorrell said it was “extremely valuable” for him to finally see recruits and their families face to face in their homes.
“I felt that, in a lot of ways, this was my first recruiting class,” he said.
Dorrell believes the foundation of competitiveness CU is setting was evident to recruits and added, “Then us being able to talk about that in their living rooms, I think … helped them understand why; why we’re recruiting them, why we expect them to be great players, why they can impact us.”