Colorado building on the backs of recruiting flips

Addison Gillam was a standout freshman, racking up 119 tackles for the Buffaloes. Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

This week, we’ll be looking at recruiting "what ifs" for each of the Pac-12 programs. During the recruiting process there are plenty of twists and turns, with prospects committing, decommitting and flipping to other programs. This series looks at how the 2015 season will be affected -- as well as could have been affected -- by recruiting flips at the high school and junior college level, as well as transfers to and from each program.

Past programs covered:


Arizona State


Next up: Colorado

Colorado hasn’t recruited at the level of its Pac-12 rivals since joining the conference, but some of the top talent on the team was assembled via recruiting flips. In fact, both players who represented the Buffaloes at Pac-12 media day -- linebacker Kenneth Olugbode and offensive tackle Stephane Nembot -- could easily have been suiting up elsewhere this fall.

Impact additions:

If Colorado is going to make the climb to bowl eligibility and put a fright into its Pac-12 South rivals, it’s going to need big performances from linebackers Addison Gillam and Olugbode. Both were set to suit up for head coach Mike McIntyre at San Jose State, but followed the coach to Boulder when he was hired. Gillam had spent the 2012 season as a greyshirt with the Spartans and requested a transfer to Colorado. Olugbode took an official visit as a recruit and made the decision to flip. Gillam was a standout freshman, racking up 119 tackles, but suffered a setback in 2014 because of illness and injuries. Olugbode took a huge step forward last season. Colorado should benefit from having both healthy and ready to go in 2015. They prove McIntyre was recruiting at a high level at San Jose State and could be on his way toward getting things clicking at Colorado.

On the offensive side, there is no doubt that quarterback Sefo Liufau -- who McIntyre held onto after the coaching change despite strong overtures from other programs -- and wide receiver Nelson Spruce will make things go. But running back Christian Powell has led the team in rushing the past three seasons and looks poised to pace a talented, young group at the position. Powell was originally committed to UCLA as a fullback during his recruitment, but flipped to Colorado to play tailback.

Though Spruce will be the focal point at wide receiver, youngsters Shay Fields and Lee Walker have an opportunity to make an impact. Fields was originally headed to Boise State, but flipped to USC when the hometown Trojans offered. Though he could have stuck with his USC pledge and signed with the Trojans following the hiring of Steve Sarkisian, Fields elected to explore his options and ultimately signed with Colorado, where he started 10 games last season as a true freshman and set a Buffaloes record for freshmen with 50 receptions. Walker will inject another dose of speed into the lineup for what suddenly looks like a pretty deep group of receivers. Of course, Walker could be suiting up for perhaps one of the strongest groups of receivers in the Pac-12 this season, as he originally committed to Arizona, before having to sit out a season to bring up his test scores. Walker instead enrolled at Colorado, where he redshirted last season.

Up front, two potential starters along the offensive line could have spent their careers elsewhere. Returning starting right tackle Nembot was committed to both Washington and Washington State at various times during his recruiting process, and Shane Callahan -- in a battle for a guard position -- signed with and enrolled at Auburn before making the decision to transfer closer to home.

Impactful misses:

Though recruits flipping out of your recruiting class is never fun to experience, it does mean that you are recruiting at a high enough level that other programs are battling for your pledges. Though that wasn’t often the case several years ago for Colorado, it is slowly changing under McIntyre, who had commitments from tailback Jomon Dotson and offensive lineman Elijah Rodriguez in the 2014 class. Though neither likely would be serving as pivotal pieces this fall, they would have added depth at two offensive positions.

Dotson ultimately made the decision to follow Chris Petersen to Washington, and Rodriguez received a late offer from Texas and decided to stay closer to home.