Like many of his peers, Colorado head football coach Karl Dorrell got home from the regular season finale in late November, packed his bags and went on the road to recruit.
For years, that has been a common schedule of a college coach.
Given the changes to the landscape, however, Dorrell admitted Wednesday it might have been in his best interest to delay his recruiting trips and focus on the current members of his team.
CU has had 22 scholarship players go to the NCAA transfer portal. Some of them were expected and even encouraged. Some were not, though, as the Buffs lost several starters. Some of those decisions were made in early December, when Dorrell and his staff were on the road.
“All of their explanations or reasons are different; they’re never the same,” Dorrell said. “But I know that it’s going to be important that we have great communication and great feedback from coaches and players alike, to make sure that we understand the progress of a young player, that we give him great instruction about what he needs to do in the near future to continue to improve.”
CU’s season finale, at Utah, was on Nov. 26. The early period for signing recruits to national letters of intent was Dec. 15-17. That quick turnaround creates a sense of urgency for all coaches to get on the road and make sure they sign the best class possible.
In doing so, however, the players on the 2021 team didn’t get a chance to sit down with Dorrell to review their season or figure out their futures.
“I went out recruiting right after the season and probably I look back at it, hindsight-wise, it might not have been the most appropriate thing to do,” he said. “I probably should have had some interviewing process right after the season just to kind of check-in with all of our players and get some discussions about how their experience has been, where they need to go from here, things of that nature.”
That’s a process that typically takes place at some point in the offseason, but the transfer portal has changed the urgency. The transfer portal is still fairly new, and it was just 10 months ago that the NCAA announced players could transfer one time without sitting out a season. That has changed the dynamics of the transfer process.
“I think all of the coaches, just talking with other head coaches across the country, we have to make sure we’re pretty much in lockstep with our current players, even though we’re in a recruiting process for adding additional ones along the way,” Dorrell said. “But I think the communication piece needs to improve and we’ll continue to work on those things so that we’re all on the same page in case there is someone that is disappointed or someone that is thinking about going into the portal. Maybe we get a chance to visit about that particular player and maybe get a solution done prior to him actually entering the portal. There’s a lot of things to learn from that for sure.”
During a media roundtable last month, Dorrell said there has been discussion among coaches about implementing a recruiting dead period for the first week after the regular season to allow time for player interviews. There is also a discussion nationally about changing the date of the early signing period.
Work to be done
So far this offseason, CU has added 30 players to the roster and has a projected 86 scholarship players for next season. The Buffs have to be at the NCAA maximum of 85 by the end of the summer.
The Buffs aren’t done shaping the 2022 roster, however. There is typically some attrition after the spring and Dorrell said the Buffs have some areas of need.
“With a handful of numbers that we still have left, picking up an extra offensive lineman or an extra defensive lineman (would be ideal),” he said. “We may try to get an extra running back at some point in time. … We might want to pick up another piece (in the secondary).
“We’ve got to be fluid with how things are in terms of what the climate is out there. … We’re going to have three or four that we feel that maybe we can add in prior to the summer work that can bolster some of the positions that might need another scholarship or two.”
Brady Kopetz, a tight end from Lincoln (Ore.) High School, and Chernet Estes, a defensive back from Lake Travis (Texas) High School, both announced that they have committed to CU as preferred walk-ons. … The last time CU added 30 new recruits was in 2002. … Nine of CU’s 22 high school recruits are from Texas. That’s the largest group from Texas since 10 in 2002.