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CU football's rise reflected in top 30 recruiting class

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Posted at 10:34 AM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 13:22:48-05

BOULDER -- As coach Mike MacIntyre sat in the Touchdown Club, cell phone pressed against his ear for his sixth radio interview, the backdrop provided a reminder of why he was in demand. 

Just outside the balcony in the Dal Ward Center sat frigid Folsom Field. Colorado won every home game last season on its way to an improbable Pac-12 South Division championship. The Buffs were 4-9 the prior season and 5-40 in conference play at one point. 

After the Buffs eclipsed Utah in November, they soaked in the accomplishment as the soldout crowd roared in delight. CU could have lived in that snapshot forever. Then came the tomorrow. 

Talent burns like nitromethane in college football, and for the Rise to remain Real, the Buffs needed to restock. MacIntyre's haul on Wednesday reflected the team's emerging status. CU finished with a recruiting class ranked in the top 30 in the country, its best mark since 2008. 

Pomona tackle Jake Moretti, former Cherry Creek linebacker Jon Van Diest, guard Grant Polley and receiver K.D. Nixon -- all Top 300 recruits -- anchor the group. The Buffs bolstered their lines on both sides of the ball, and for the first time in years, dealt with other schools attempting to take their recruits, portraying Boulder as an igloo.

"Some way, somehow you get them to see Boulder. When they do, they realize there’s no eight feet of snow on the ground like all the other recruiters tell them; there’s actually a lot of fun things to do and it’s absolutely spectacular. The fun thing about recruiting the kids from Texas is they get here and can’t stop talking about the mountains because you can see for forever in Texas. I think when they see that it blows them away and the beauty of it," MacIntyre said. "The key is to get them here. Every school says that but you get them here, it is just different from a lot of places, it’s spectacular.”

Landing Moretti provided a punctuation mark. He decommitted from Ohio State. Moretti wanted to stay close to home and as CU rebounded last season he decided there was no reason to leave.

"It's going to be great to be around family and friends," said Moretti, who, after missing his senior year with a knee injury, could push for playing time at guard and tackle. "I grew up here and it’s been cool watching Colorado turn it around."

Of the Buffs 27 recruits, 25 owned at least a three-star ranking. Among those who could play pivotal roles next season include junior tackle nose tackle Javier Edwards (6-3, 350), Nixon (a speedster from DeSoto, Texas), cornerback Chris Miller, and big receiving target Laviska Shenault, who shunned interest from Alabama and LSU.  

CU's class crystallized around work in Texas. The Buffs landed eight from the state, tied for the most with Colorado. MacIntyre made it a priority.

“We wanted to get in Texas but we weren’t having a lot of success, and then (offensive coordinator) Darrin (Chiaverini) came from Texas Tech and made in-roads there, so he had some connections. We also decided to put five (coaches) in Texas instead of three and narrowed down some other areas because we thought that would be a hot bed for us and sure enough it worked out well," MacIntyre said. "A lot of that was Darrin suggesting that change, so that was a big part of it.”

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