Despite all the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 14 months, the Colorado football program has been able to go through a lot of its normal routines.
Although changes had to be made in how they were done, the Buffaloes have conducted workouts, practices and played in games.
One important aspect of the college sports world hasn’t been allowed, but that will soon change. On Tuesday, the recruiting “dead” period will finally be lifted, allowing coaches in football and all sports to resume some normal recruiting activities — including official visits on campus and in-person evaluations.
“In the last month, the buzz around the office has been palpable,” said Bob Lopez, director of player personnel for the CU football program. “You can feel that from people, everybody in the building … because everybody’s going through the same thing. All the teams, all the coaches, everybody’s going to get a chance to do evaluation and get on the road and have kids in. It’s been really, really exciting.”
Due to COVID-19, the NCAA started the dead period — which prohibits coaches from visiting recruits and recruits from visiting campuses — on March 13, 2020. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the dead period has been extended eight times since then, but it will finally expire on Tuesday.
CU and other schools utilized virtual visits and phone calls to complete their 2021 signing classes. Despite signing national letters of intent, most of CU’s 2021 football recruiting class hasn’t been to Boulder or met head coach Karl Dorrell and assistants in person.
Class of 2022 recruits, however, will get an opportunity to take official visits in June.
“It’s huge for us,” CU offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. “We’re in Colorado and the majority of our prospects are going to be out-of-state kids. Obviously, we have some top in-state kids that we’re going to have on our campus, but it’s vital for us to get kids from Texas and California and our prime recruiting areas on our campus in Boulder in June when the weather’s great. They get to see the Flatirons and walk our campus and see our facilities. It’s very vital that we’re getting them here in June.”
CU currently has more than 20 players from the 2022 class scheduled to visit in June, including several who have already verbally committed to the Buffs: safety Dylan Dixson (Pearland, Texas); defensive end Carlton Madden (Ellenwood, Ga.); cornerback Keyshon Mills (Little Elm, Texas); and running back Victor Venn (Buford, Ga.).
For Dorrell and his staff, it will be a welcomed change. Hired on Feb. 23, 2020 — about three weeks before the dead period began — Dorrell has yet to meet with a recruit in person.
“Not having gone through the cycle here, it’s how much they like this place, how much we all like it and now we’re going to get to see that,” Lopez said. “It’s going to be a crazy busy month because we also have our camps.”
CU is holding four separate camps for high school players in June. Due to COVID-19 regulations, the Buffs had to limit participation numbers, so they broke the camps up by position groups. Offensive and defensive linemen will be at Folsom Field on June 7; running backs, tight ends and linebackers on June 8; and then quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs on June 21-22.
The Buffs’ coaches will also get a chance to work at some camps out of state, in California and Texas.
In addition, the NCAA is allowing football programs to hold individual on-campus evaluations (OCE) for players on unofficial visits. During an OCE, CU’s coaches have an opportunity to conduct a workout with one player.
“I know we’re pretty excited about it,” Lopez said. “It gives us a chance to get some out-of-state kids in. For our local guys, we’re really excited about our camps because now you get to take a look at some of the (class of 2022 recruits), but it’ll be mostly 23s and 24s.”
Per NCAA rules, each football program is allowed to host 56 official visits annually and Lopez said the Buffs will balance when they use those.
“We’re trying to strategically get guys in now and then hold some guys for the season when we really get going with football,” he said.
For now, though, the entire staff is gearing up for what should be a whirlwind in June. In addition to recruiting visits and camps, veteran players are returning to workouts this week and incoming freshmen and transfers will join the team by mid-June.
“It feels like August, where you’re going every day, you’re going all day long,” Lopez said. “Like I said, the buzz in this office, on this floor, it’s been really, really fun. People are really energized by it.”
List of Class of 2022 recruits scheduled to take official visits to Colorado (source: 247Sports.com):
CB Anthony Davis, Skyline (Tex). HS
OT Nikolas Hall, Akins (Tex.) HS
DL Trevon McAlpine, Saraland (Ala.) HS
CB Keyshon Mills, Little Elm (Tex.) HS
CB Ronald Lewis, Warren Easton (La.) HS
WR Jordan Nabors, Rockwall-Heath (Tex) HS
CB Ade Willie, IMG Academy (Fla.)
DL Justice Finkley, Hewitt-Trussville (Ala.) HS
DE Carlton Madden, Cedar Grove (Ga.) HS
RB Victor Venn, Buford (Ga.) HS
OT Austin Kawecki, Lebanon Trail (Tex.) HS
S Trevon Howard, IMG Academy (Fla.)
S Dylan Dixson, Pearland (Tex.) HS
DL Erick Conley, Fort Bend Travis (Tex) HS
OT Carter Edwards, Presbyterian Christian School (Miss).
RB DeAnthony Gatson, Newton (Tex.) HS
LB Shakaun Bowser, Casteel (Ariz.) HS
OT Jake Maikkula, Valor Christian (Colo.) HS
OT Jackson Brown, San Ramon Valley (Calif.) HS
CB Joshua Wiggins, Klein Oak (Tex.) HS
LB Eoghan Kerry, Mater Dei (Calif.) HS
ATH Braydon Brus, Glendora (Calif.) HS
DL Aaron Austin, North Crowley (Tex.) HS
WR Jason Essex, Winnetonka (Mo.) HS