Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre signed a class of recruits Wednesday on national signing day ranked No. 64 in the nation by Rivals.com.
MacIntyre's first full-year recruiting class turned out to be a lot like those of the recent past at CU in the eyes of the recruiting services and recruiting analysts. That leaves CU fans in position to wonder what might make this class more successful over the long haul than similar classes have been in the recent past.
MacIntyre said he and his assistants must be the difference. They have to develop the talent they saw on high school fields and summer camps over the past few years that led to them recruiting the 22 players who signed national letters of intent. It's up to them to improve the skills of those players and win more games, which will help land even better players in the future.
"I feel like we're getting the athlete and the caliber of character that we want," MacIntyre said. "When you do that, you build a team and you build staying power within your program and that builds on top of itself and that's how you become successful."
MacIntyre said he is waiting on a possible in-state addition to the class Thursday. That player is believed to be Kalen Ballage, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound athlete from Falcon High School who will decide between CU, Arizona State and UCLA. Ballage would be the second four-star recruit in CU's class.
The class tilts slightly in favor of defense with 11 defensive recruits and nine slated for offense. It includes MacIntyre's oldest son, Jay, who announced he would join the program Wednesday in a signing day eerily reminiscent of 2006 when Cody Hawkins surprised his dad by faxing his paperwork to CU from his high school in Boise, Idaho.
Jay MacIntyre is one of two players who signed with the program and was listed as an athlete, who might end up on either side of the ball. The other is Donovan Lee, a speedy prospect from Chaminade College Prep in California.
When asked for the names of members of the class whom he believes could help the Buffs right away next year, MacIntyre said they all will be given the chance. He went on to say wide receiver Shay Fields, defensive back Evan White, junior college offensive lineman Sully Wiefels are candidates to play right away. He also said he might need several of the five defensive linemen in the class to play.
CU added two inside linebackers to the roster and two defensive backs.
"We felt like we needed to get some more speed and athleticism on defense," MacIntyre said.
Two obvious positions of need at CU were quarterback and tight end. MacIntyre signed one quarterback in the class and two tight ends. He raved about the speed and potential of his tight end recruits Dylan Keeney, a 6-6 prospect from Granite Bay, Calif., and Hayden Jones, 6-6, from Sacramento.
MacIntyre said CU coaches liked quarterback Cade Apsay because of his accuracy. He said offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren evaluated Apsay on multiple occasions and had him rated as the most accurate quarterback of those CU offered scholarships in this class.
MacIntyre said he recruits players he and his staff have evaluated thoroughly and have decided fit into the program's needs and culture. He said he doesn't pay any attention to recruiting services star ratings because he trusts the staff's evaluation process.
"You can't go chasing everything else and overlook some really good players where you might chase, chase, chase and you fall all the way to another level because that other guy is gone," MacIntyre said.
MacIntyre said sticking to that philosophy on the recruiting trail and then developing players once they arrive will allow CU to get back to winning consistently.
Looking back at the first crop of recruits he was responsible for bringing to CU last year offers hope to CU fans that he might have the right people in place and the right approach.
Players such as linebacker Addison Gillam, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, running back Michael Adkins III and safety Tedric Thompson made their mark as true freshman last season.
"You don't want to trick a kid into coming here and he hates it," MacIntyre said. "You want to make sure he wants to be here. That's a big part of recruiting.
"So you want to be here? Do you want to live here? Do you understand what it's all about? Do you understand things that are going on? Do you understand what the school is about? You do? He'll put both feet in the boat and he'll be here. So when we have good fourth and fifth-year seniors in a class built up and good third-year sophomores, we're going to be a good football team. I don't think it's rocket science, but it's hard to do. You better evaluate the right way and you better recruit that way."