By the time Alex Harkey got serious about a future in football, it was too late to grab the attention of Division I colleges.
Two seasons at the junior college level was all it took to change that.
A 6-foot-6, 300-pound offensive lineman from Tyler (Texas) Junior College, Harkey was one of several players added to Colorado’s 2022 recruiting class this week.
“I’m ready. I’m pumped,” said Harkey, who will arrive in the summer with four years to play three seasons. “I’m a little bummed I’ve gotta wait to graduate to get over there.”
A 2020 graduate of Hays High School in Buda, Texas, Harkey said he never got serious about football until his senior year.
“By then I found out it was too late because my grades were so bad,” he said.
Tyler head coach Thomas Rocco offered him a chance to play for the Apaches, though, and Harkey said, “From there it was just a wrap. I committed, signed and started going there.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harkey’s first year at Tyler did not count toward eligibility, but he did play during the spring season, filling a team need at tight end. Last fall, he played tackle.
“This past year was the first real year I got to develop as an O-lineman,” he said.
He also developed as a person and student and is eager to prove himself with the Buffs.
“I’m ready to develop, to be at that point,” he said. “I don’t think I’m there yet. I think this offseason will help me grow and get ready – as ready as I can be – and try to take off from there.”
CU has lost two starting offensive linemen – left guard Kary Kutsch and center Colby Pursell – to graduation and there will be plenty of competition for starting roles across the line. CU hopes Harkey can compete for playing time in the fall.
“Excited about what he can provide for us with some depth and obviously some potential to play and be an impactful player for us up front,” head coach Karl Dorrell said. “Excited about him being part of our program.”
Last season, 19 newcomers saw playing time with the Buffs, including 13 true freshmen.
Through the first day of the regular signing period on Wednesday, the Buffs were slated to have 30 newcomers next season, including 22 true freshmen. Like last year, Dorrell believes many in the 2022 class can get on the field quickly.
“Really the entirety of the group that we brought in, a great majority of them we feel can impact us this year, much like those freshmen that played this past season and did some really positive things for us,” he said. “We’re really excited about this group. We think that they have the potential to impact us and get on the field in such a short order, to be honest with you. They’re very talented, they’re young.”
Of the 30 newcomers, 12 are already on campus and slated to go through spring practices.
“They’re going to have a great opportunity to kind of grow within our systems offensively and defensively and in our special teams and really to make some positive strides in the spring practice sessions and the over the summer,” Dorrell said. “So we think a lot of this group has a chance to help us next fall.”
In particular, graduate transfers Tommy Brown and RJ Sneed could have major impact. Brown is an offensive lineman from Alabama and Sneed a receiver from Baylor.
“We feel that Tommy’s going to be able to provide some really quality depth for us and maybe even impact us as a starter,” Dorrell said. “He’s a natural born tackle, but played guard a lot for Alabama. We’re gonna play him in both of those spots this spring and give him a role to play that will impact us in the fall.”
Sneed led Baylor in receiving in 2020 and had 133 catches for 1,564 yards in his career with the Bears.
“He’s acclimated really quickly to the team,” Dorrell said. “He’s already well-liked (on the team). He does provide a lot of experience for us of a guy that’s had some production. He’s excited about his new opportunity that he has here, too.”
Former CU walk-on tight end Nico Magri was announced Thursday as one of the five recipients of the College Game Changers sponsorship. The sponsorship was launched last year by Integrate, which is led by CEO and co-founder Jeremy Bloom, a former CU football player. The program is aimed to support walk-on student-athletes. Magri, from Monarch High School, completed his collegiate career with the Buffs last fall. … CU is tentatively planning to start spring practices March 30, with the spring game slated for April 23.