The recruiting blueprint for Colorado

Although Colorado could use stability at head coach, an influx of talent wouldn’t hurt, either.

Under Jon Embree, the Buffaloes' assistant coaches did a terrific job of keeping themselves in the race for recruits whom their record indicated they shouldn’t have a chance to land.

With a program like Colorado, which has put together consecutive poor seasons on the field, the opportunity for early playing time is the biggest selling point. That’s a strong pitch for many recruits.

But it’s just as important to point that message in the right direction, and the Buffs are in good shape there, as offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and defensive line coach Kanavis McGhee have given the Buffs a tremendous contact in two areas where Colorado must excel in recruiting if it wants to compete in the Pac-12: Southern California and Texas, specifically Houston. Whether or not Bieniemy and McGhee are kept as assistants on the new staff, those two recruiting hotbeds must remain priorities for Colorado.

Colorado doesn’t need to look far for a blueprint in how to recruit successfully in the Pac-12. Conference member Oregon State has recruited extremely well, despite fighting against an in-state power, by pulling terrific athletes who fit its system out of those same two areas.

In the 2013 recruiting class, cornerback Devin Ross (Mission Hills, Calif./Bishop Alemany), wide receivers Bryce Bobo (Covina, Calif./Charter Oak) and Elijah Dunston (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade), linebacker George Frazier (Monrovia, Calif./Monrovia) and offensive guard Colin Sutton (Orange, Calif./Lutheran) are perfect examples of players Colorado had to pull out of California, and was on track to do so.

McGhee made the biggest impact in this class with defensive end Marcus Loud, a Houston standout with offers from Houston, Michigan State, Missouri, TCU and Texas Tech, among others.

Going back a few years, Colorado simply needs to find more players like Paul Richardson over and over and over. It’s easier said than done, but it’s likely the only way to get out of this hole in a hurry.

Richardson was a standout receiver at Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra in the 2010 recruiting class and knew he was talented enough to make an early impact at Colorado.

In the Class of 2014, the Buffs have made early runs at ESPN Watch List prospects in California such as cornerback Jaleel Wadood (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and tight end Darrell Cloy (Santa Fe Springs, Calif./St. Paul). Linebacker Hamilton Anoa’i (San Mateo, Calif./Junipero Serra) could be one to watch for Colorado as well, and quarterback Josh Davis (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./St. Margaret’s) is a small-school quarterback whom Colorado could get out in front for with an early push.

Recruiting success can begin at home as well. And although Colorado isn’t consistently loaded with enough talent to create a full recruiting class, running back Christian McCaffrey (Highlands Ranch, Colo./Valor Christian) -- the lone ESPN Watch List prospect from Colorado -- would be a tremendous start for the 2014 recruiting class.

Meanwhile, in the 2013 class, Colorado lost out on in-state stars such as quarterback Luke Del Rio, McCaffrey’s teammate and an Oklahoma State commit, and ESPN 150 offensive tackle Chris Fox (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa), who has pledged to Michigan.

In the past two classes, Colorado missed on the state’s top six prospects, so keeping the few star recruits in state will be key for the new staff.