The University of Northern Colorado Bears football team added 20 new recruits in the early signing period this past week.
Earnest Collins Jr. and staff kept the recruiting focused on local prospects and found success by drawing 18 of 20 recruits from Colorful Colorado.
“Reclaiming the state” was an important factor in Coach Collins approach this year as he wants young players to know they do not have to travel out of state to have a football career.
The other two recruits come from Wyoming and a freshmen transfer from Liberty University via Houston, TX.
The roster breakdown
At the end of signing day the new recruits comes out to 14 defensive players and six offensive players overall.
The emphasis on linebackers (LB and Buck positions) and safeties is a welcome sight as the Bears defense gave up the second most touchdowns in the conference at 51.
24/7 Sports, a sports media site that provides news and rankings of recruits, lists the Bears as having four two star recruits.
Three of these recruits were announced in the recruiting class: Mike Thompson, LB (26th in State), Carson Brantley, S (29th in State) and Ryan Capasso, LB (32nd in State).
Not mentioned in the class, but showing committed on 24/7 Sports is Cole Parrott a defensive tackle from Columbine High (31st in State)
The commitment date listed is Dec. 20 and may not come with a national letter of intent just yet, so that is likely why Cole is not listed on the roster.
Not to worry, while this may be a good start to finding new talent Coach Collins assured the media that “there’s more on the way in February.”
February is when the official signing day is for high school seniors, this was the early signing period which has only been in effect for two years now.
Coach Collins and staff are already lining up the spring part of the recruiting class as 24/7 Sports has them in the running for multiple athletes still, including two three-star athletes.
Looking at Colorado as a whole
Colorado boasts a total population of 5.6 million, yet there are four Devision I NCAA affiliated colleges with football programs within two hours of each other.
Not to mention University of Wyoming is only another two hours away and Wyoming has less than a million residents.
With all of the division one competition even being a tier above the Bears in competition, but also money, advertising, exposure, etc it leaves the Bears in a unique position to recruit from.
With four Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) or D1-A competitors above the Bears, they also have six Division II schools in-state to compete with for recruiting efforts.
UNC is the only Colorado school to be a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) or D1-AA school.
The next closest FCS schools are Weber State (West), Northern Arizona (South), Montana State (North) and South Dakota (East).
There are D1 and DII schools sprinkled throughout that area, but from an FCS standpoint the Bears have a lot of range to work with.
Focusing on Colorado high school seniors, 9News has a spreadsheet of Division 1 athletes heading to college for athletics.
Looking at the mostly complete list provided there are 46 athletes declaring they signed national letters of intent to play for Division 1 football programs.
Two athletes on the list are attending Division 2 schools for football, but neither are lost to in-state competition.
18 of those athletes will be attending the University of Northern Colorado either this spring or next fall, while 28 go to other Division I programs.
Of the Colorado athletes available, UNC was able to recruit 39 percent to UNC and of their 2019 early signing class 90 percent of them are from Colorado.
UNC also managed to recruit 81 percent (18/22) of the FCS talent from Colorado.
So how did the backyard rivals do in recruiting from home? (Colorado State and CU-Boulder)
While the local FBS schools were able to sway high caliber talent, they failed to stay local as Colorado State had 17 percent (3/17) and CU-Boulder had 25 percent (4/16) local recruits.
What’s next for the Bears?
To the Bears dismay they did not qualify for the FCS Championship this year, so into off-season mode the Bears will stay.
For Earnest Collins Jr. and company these are Bears who never hibernate since there is work to be done to improve next season.
President Feinstein may be new to UNC as of this semester, but he made an introduction and acquaintance to all university programs this year as he hopes to, “right the ship” in a better, new direction.
A newsletter was sent out earlier this year regarding Coach Collins and the football program as the team went 2-9 after last year’s also dismal year of 3-7.
President Feinstein praised Coach Collins for his outstanding work in helping the Bears have great academic success, including leading the FCS in total graduate students.
The President also noted success is measured and changes will follow, despite keeping Coach Collins on board.
A few weeks later Offensive Coordinator Jon Boyer was relieved of his duties, as well as the defensive ends coach.
This past week UNC has found its new offensive coordinator in local Division II talent, Nick Fulton of Colorado School of Mines.
Fulton is a three time finalist for Division II coordinator of the year (2015, 2016, 2018)
The next event for the UNC Bears will be Jan. 26 as the Bears cheer on teammate Alex Wesley in the Senior Bowl.
Only the top seniors in the nation receive invitations to one of the post-season senior bowls.
These players can showcase talent for one last time against the best players that year, or use their performance to get noticed by NFL scouts.
Either way, Bears fans can cheer on Wesley one last time January 26th.