Jon Major came to Colorado with so much hope and promise.

Considered the top prep player in the state in the class of 2008, Major was part of a stellar recruiting class for the Buffs.

"We wanted to start a dynasty," Major said of that class, which ranked among the nation's best at the time.

Now a senior linebacker, Major has just two games left in a career -- and a senior season -- marked by disappointment. He and the Buffaloes (1-9, 1-6 Pac-12) will host Washington (6-4, 4-3) on Saturday, still searching for their first win at Folsom Field.

"You just have to see the positive, if there is one," said Major. "You have to put your pride on the backseat a little bit and look to the young guys and to the future and what you can do now as an individual. That's all you can do is try to bring up the new guys and do everything you can to finish on a good note."

It's been an interesting ride for Major, who starred at Ponderosa High School in Parker.

Major came to CU with a class that included five-star running back Darrell Scott, who was arguably the nation's best back. That class also included Lynn Katoa and Shaun Mohler, who, like Major, were four-star linebackers. Scott quit the team midway through 2009. Legal trouble ended Katoa's time with the Buffs after just two years and Mohler, as a junior college transfer, was done after two years.

In all, there were eight four-star recruits (including Scott) and a host of other three-star players. Many of them exhausted their eligibility last season. Others just never panned out. Ironically, it was the less-heralded recruits that wound up being the best of the bunch, guys like Curtis Cunningham, Tyler Hansen, Will Pericak and Rodney Stewart.


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Major would probably be considered the best player from that group of four-star recruits, but his career has been defined by injuries. He tore his ACL during fall camp as a true freshman and missed that entire season. Shoulder and knee trouble limited him in 2009 and another knee injury cut his season short in 2010. He finally played a full season in 2011 and has been on the field for most of this season, but he did miss a game with a hyper-extended elbow.

There have been other disappointments, too, including the fact that Major and the Buffs have never been to a bowl game during his five years. They have come close, though.

"When you really analyze it, you forget how close things are from either going here (good) or here (bad)," he said, gesturing with his hands. "My true freshman year, even though I didn't play, Nebraska makes a 50-something yard field goal and that's the game that would get us to a bowl game. He just had the kick of his life. It's crazy. Stuff like that happens all the time.

"Two years ago, we gave up that huge lead to Kansas. Well, that's our bowl game right there."

Had the Buffs won those games, Major would likely be talking about a couple of trips to bowl games, if not more.

Those losses, especially the 52-45 defeat at Kansas in 2010 -- a game in which CU led by 28 in the fourth quarter -- led to Dan Hawkins, the man who recruited Major, getting fired. Hawkins was dismissed just days after the loss to Kansas, with three games to play in that season.

Under the direction of Jon Embree the last two years, the Buffs have fallen on hard times. No season in Major's career has been as trying as this one.

Despite having just two games left in a lost season, though, Major and the Buffs aren't giving up.

"They have an opportunity these next two weeks and I appealed to their pride," Embree said. "We've talked about trying to create some momentum for them in the offseason and moving forward into 2013. I also talked to the older guys, the seniors, about how they wanted to finish.

"It would be big (to win a game or two)."

Major knows that the Buffs are criticized by many, but he also knows that the Buffs aren't struggling because they aren't trying.

"If anyone could be around us and see it, they'd understand all the hard work that goes into it, and sometimes hard work doesn't match results," said Major, third on the team with 54 tackles this season. "Your preparation doesn't show up all the time. You just have to keep coming and do more than we have. We have two weeks left and nothing to lose. We should prepare like that, we should play like that and see what happens."

To this point, it hasn't been anywhere near the career Major hoped it would be. He said he won't dwell too much on what could have been, though.

"It happens for a reason, and you've just got to maximize the present and move forward," he said. "I definitely still love the game. You've got to let that carry you and seek results from that. If you didn't have passion for it, you would have packed it in a long time ago."

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