Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo.
Throughout the early morning and afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 3, 18 junior college and high school recruits signed letters of intent to the University of Colorado football program, molding the Buffs’ 2016 draft class.
The 18 new Buffaloes hail from 11 different states, which is the most since 2010. The class includes two quarterbacks, three offensive linemen, one running back, five wide receivers, three linebackers and three defensive backs.
Before head coach Mike MacIntyre addressed the media in his signing day press conference, Athletic Director Rick George honored former Buffs’ defensive end Herb Orvis, who played from 1969-1971, and will become the eighth Buffalo to be enshrined this December into the College Football Hall of Fame.
“I can tell you there’s going to be some real things happening here in the future,” Orvis said. “You’ve got the skeleton and the bones here but if you bring some more ball players in here, it’s going to be awesome. I’m very proud to be a Buffalo.”
Prominent among the new Buffs is Texas Tech graduate transfer Davis Webb, who led the Red Raiders to a win over Arizona State in the 2013 Holiday Bowl. Webb, whose playing days at Texas Tech were hindered by injuries, will likely be in competition with injured Buffs quarterback Sefo Liufau, who is nursing a Lisfranc fracture that he sustained last November against USC.
“Davis has an exceptional NFL arm,” MacIntyre said. “We’re really excited about what Davis will do for us here. He has exceptional ability and can read defenses.”
The “Texas Cannon,” as MacIntyre refers to him, is one player in the group that could have a big impact on CU football in the near future.
Joining Webb in that regard is wide receiver Juwann Winfree. He played last season for Coffeyville Community College but saw action here and there as a true freshman for the University of Maryland in 2013. Winfree could very well find himself seeing increased playing time for an offense that has nine returning starters.
He will join receivers Shay Fields, Devin Ross and Jay MacIntyre in an attempt to supplement the Buffs in their first year without top receiver Nelson Spruce.
“I call him the ‘Touchdown Maker,’” MacIntyre said of the 6-foot-2, 200-pound wideout. “He can make plays; he’s athletic, powerful and can catch the ball at its high point. People bounce off of him. He’s a lot of fun to be around.”
One final potential offensive piece of the puzzle for the Buffs is running back Beau Bisharat, a freshman from Sacramento, California. In his three-year high school career playing for the Jesuit High School Marauders, Bisharat racked up 4,130 rushing yards, averaging an impressive 10.1 yards per carry.
Bisharat will join a Buffs backfield that relied on contributions from four different players in 2015, sometimes with limited success — especially against Pac-12 opponents.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound tailback, whom MacIntyre expects will tack on another 10-20 pounds before long, might be the next Christian Powell (hopefully minus the fumbles).
“He’s a big, physical, athletic, hard-nosed running back,” MacIntyre said. “He’s an exciting player [and] we’re really excited about what he brings to the table. He’ll be a guy that I believe will help us immediately next year.”
From a defensive perspective, the Buffs looked to address the linebacker and defensive back positions, both areas on the roster that MacIntyre and defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt wanted to bolster. It appears that in those regards, the mission was a success, as the Buffaloes added some potential key additions to the defensive scheme of things.
One of the first names that comes to mind is linebacker Pookie Maka, who committed to CU earlier this week. Maka, a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, is considered a steal for the Buffs given the intensity with which he was recruited by in-state schools.
He’s 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and well-versed at the outside linebacker position. Coaches are hopeful that he’ll adjust quickly to the environment that is collegiate football, as did true freshman N.J. Falo last season, who was thrust into a starting role and ended up playing well in the seven games in which he saw action.
“Pookie is a pass-rushing outside linebacker, and with our 3-4 scheme you can see his speed off the edge,” MacIntyre said. “He is an excellent young man and he brings a lot to the table for us. He’s like a heat-seeking missile on the quarterback.”
In the defensive back department, the Buffs have added two players to their ranks that can hopefully help to alleviate some of the pressures left by the loss of senior DBs Ken Crawley and Jered Bell, even if that means contributing to the depth chart in their first years.
The first of whom is Ronnie Blackmon, who along with his high school teammate, wide receiver Derrion Rakestraw, are the first two high-schoolers from Georgia to sign with the Buffs since the 2007 recruiting class. Blackmon also played wide receiver and returned punts while at Westlake High School, the alma mater of the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton.
“He’s got a lot of ability to make big plays,” MacIntyre said of the 5-foot-10, 174-pound defender. “He’s got energy.”
The second is a Ca’Ron Baham, a 6-foot, 190-pound product of John Ehret High School in Marrero, Louisiana — a school which has a history of churning out future Buffaloes. Quarterback Kordell Stewart, cornerback Dalton Simmons and linebackers Mike Phillips and Thaddeus Washington all hail from John Ehret.
Baham was one of Louisiana’s top prospects entering his senior year of high school, before tearing his ACL during the season opener.
“This young man can fly — he’s got speed to kill,” MacIntyre said. “He was a quarterback but will play corner for us. He’s got great savvy and tremendous speed and athleticism.”
“I’m very excited about this class’s athleticism at the skill position,” MacIntyre added. “We’re going to have a lot of really excellent Pac-12-type football players that can make big plays for us, which is exceptional.
For the extensive list of the newest Buffs, with bios and highlight reels, visit this page.