Anyone who is an athlete or played sports as a youngster always dreamed one day of playing for the home team. In many cities that may be the local one and only high school or university with the ultimate goal of being on the roster of the regional professional team. As time goes on so do goals and the ability to be an athlete at the next level. However, sometimes so does the desire to play for pride of the home team. Many may ask why NOT play for the home team and it comes down to do they support their back yard. Over the past several years there has been criticism of the coaches from the local Colorado colleges and universities about talents leaving the state. The ones that got away will always be an issue in any state but in Colorado it seems to be a heated topic. Since 2015 @303Gonzo has been vocal on the topic and has made positive strides to identify local talents via the GWL (Gonzo Watch List) and present them to college coaches for evaluations. It is apparent when offers are extended and athletes visit to see if it is a good match. In an ever changing world the fact remains that high school students have more access and options to watch other teams out of state. Back in the day there were only a few options, local networks, to watch sporting events. So with cable and satellite television in addition to streaming options and apps the culture has changed and the desires for playing for school pride in the local team has diminished. In addition youngsters want to play for a winning team and quite frankly the passed decade has been brutally bad for the most part in local college football. Yes there have been some bright spots. However, the fact remains that each high school has players they think deserve to play for the local college and university, but when over the course of time players from out of state are perceived to be better, why would you not consider other options. They say it takes only one coach to believe in you and we are seeing college football coaches evaluating athletes at an earlier age and really getting to know their recruits. So it is no surprise when local talents feel that two way street and they commit. A few other contributing factors to commit may be parents who are alumni of the school or have a network in place at a particular school. If you examine years past like the high profile class of 2014 an athlete named Christian McCaffrey had both his parents attend Stanford and ultimately choose to be a cardinal. McCaffrey had offers from local schools, Colorado, Colorado State and Northern Colorado but like many others went out of state. The Class of 2015 saw Eric Lee choose Nebraska, followed by the Class of 2016 and Carlo Kemp and 2017 Dylan McCaffrey chose Michigan. As of today 2018 Adrian Jackson has committed to Oregon and 2019 Ty Evans Arkansas. So maybe the simple answer is the out of state coaches just recruit better. However, it could be the athletes just feel slighted in their hometown. What ever the case may be it is time for the local majors to focus on the hometown talents so playing for school pride will be as big as other states like neighboring Kansas, Nebraska or Oklahoma. Its time for Colorad fans of Friday nights to see athletes play on Saturdays and perhaps Sundays in a local uniform. While many dream of playing on Sundays they will be treated in 2017 as local product Christian McCaffrey will play for the Carolina Panthers this season.
In the State of Colorado the class of 2017 saw these teams add local talents to their current roster:
Western State (30)
Colorado Mesa (28)
Northern Colorado (11)
Colorado School of Mines (11) 3 walk-ons
Colorado (7) 4 walk-ons
Colorado State (7) 4 walk-ons
Air Force 4
Adams State 3
Fort Lewis 3
So of the 271 players committed to playing in 2017 approximately 125 will stay home or about 46%. Meanwhile we will continue to hear about The ones that got away until we change the culture. The class of 2019 might be that group that impacts the four D1 local schools if that group decides to stay and play. Early signing day for the class of 2018 begins this December and the focus will turn to securing 2019 for early evaluations and official visits in the Spring of 2018. Stay tuned as we want to report the stay and play kids so it makes it more fun to watch Friday night stars on Saturday in their home state of Colorado as we have dudes that can play.