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CU Buffs’ Karl Dorrell likes new energy within program

Colorado head coach announces new additions on first day of regular signing period

BOULDER, CO: February 2, 2022- CU head football coach, Karl Dorrell, during the University of Colorado Boulder football coaches press conference on February 2, 2022.
(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO: February 2, 2022- CU head football coach, Karl Dorrell, during the University of Colorado Boulder football coaches press conference on February 2, 2022. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

It wasn’t just victories that the Colorado football team was missing last season.

From the staff to the players and even the fans, the program was lacking energy.

Through the first two months of the offseason, head coach Karl Dorrell has done his best to give the program a jolt of energy after a disappointing 4-8 season in 2021.

“Oh, we all needed it,” Dorrell said Wednesday as he met with media on the first day of the regular signing period. “It wasn’t a great season last year. We all know that. I did like how our team finished the year by playing hard and being competitive, but obviously the body of work was substandard to what we’re looking for.

“Thank goodness 2022 is a new season, a new year, a new outlook. There’s new faces in the coaching staff, new faces on this football team. The (returning players) have a renewed sense of energy about the additions that are coming on board. There is kind of a wiping of the slate, so to speak, and starting fresh. … There’s a lot of anticipation and excitement within the team and the coaches about getting started in ’22.”

Former Sam Houston running back Ramon Jefferson has announced he will transfer to Colorado for his final year of college football. (Rwanda Tua’a/Sam Houston Athletics)

CU officially announced four new signees on Wednesday, with offensive linemen Van Wells (C.E. King High School in Houston) and Alex Harkey (Tyler Community College); safety Jeremy Mack Jr. (East Mississippi Community College); and running back Ramon Jefferson, a graduate transfer from Sam Houston.

“We feel like they’re going to be impactful players for us,” said Dorrell, who is entering his third season with the Buffs. “They’re going to be able to help us continue to make those steps of improvement in getting our team to play at a much higher level this year.”

Since signing 21 players in December, the Buffs have added nine players overall, including transfers Tommy Brown (offensive line, Alabama); Maddox Kopp (quarterback, Houston); Chance Main (defensive end, Incarnate Word); and R.J. Sneed (receiver, Baylor). Cornerback Jason Oliver (Liberty High School in Bakersfield, Calif.) has also signed with the Buffs.

Brown, Kopp, Main, Oliver and Sneed enrolled at CU last month and are currently going through offseason workouts.

The additions have helped ease the sting of losing several players to the NCAA transfer portal this offseason.

“Anytime you lose players that leave your program, you’re not excited about why those decisions have been made, but that’s part of the world that we’re in now in terms of recruiting and (name, image and likeness) and the transfer portal,” Dorrell said. “That’s just a new process that we’re all dealing with across the country at every program and so there’s always the initial shock of disappointment when that happens, but I do feel like it did give us a chance to regroup and reorganize ourselves and decide on who’s really excited about being here and believing the process of what we’re doing here. So things like that really, I say, outweigh the negatives.”

In all, CU has lost 22 scholarship players to the transfer portal, including several starters, such as cornerbacks Mekhi Blackmon (transferred to USC) and Christian Gonzalez (Oregon); safety Mark Perry (TCU); receivers Brenden Rice (USC) and Dimitri Stanley (undecided); and running back Jarek Broussard (Michigan State).

Former Baylor receiver RJ Sneed II is transferring to play his final season of college football with the Colorado Buffaloes. (Baylor Athletics)

“I do wish all of those players well,” Dorrell said. “I hope that they got what they were looking for and to help them in their careers and their own respective goals that they’ve had for themselves. But, right now we’re moving forward with what’s in our building, and then what’s coming in the summer. Like I said, there’s a really good feeling that’s within this team that I haven’t felt in my two years prior.”

That energy has been produced, in part, by some of the new players that have signed on with the Buffs.

“We feel like the additions we made in this program are in a lot of ways, I think, probably a little bit more of an upgrade from things that we’ve had in terms of an attrition standpoint,” Dorrell said. “So we feel really good about us moving forward with the players that we have and the energy is great.”

Much of that energy has been produced by an overhaul of the staff, as well. Six of Dorrell’s 10 full-time assistants are new to the program. That group of newcomers includes Rod Chance (cornerbacks); Kyle DeVan (offensive line); Phil McGeoghan (receivers); Clay Patterson (tight ends); Mike Sanford (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks); and Vic So’oto (defensive line).

“I know the staff that’s here are really excited to work with our players,” Dorrell said. “We’ve made some impactful additions in our program that we think are going to be pretty evident that you’ll see in the fall.

“I think our coaching staff is the best that I’ve had since I’ve been here.”

So is the energy, as players and coaches have rallied together through an offseason of change.

“It definitely gives you a sense that the guys that are here, it’s because they’re committed, they’re determined,” Dorrell said. “There’s a sense of loyalty. There’s an allegiance to the school, things like that. The great majority that did stay, they’re inspired to do great things and to prove a lot of people wrong, particularly the people outside the building.

“There is definitely a different feeling in the building about moving forward and having a sense of urgency and having some success. It is being kind of manifested in all areas right now in and around our program and it’s a great feeling.”