CU Buffs set to welcome 2021 recruiting class 20-1

During his elementary school years, Erik Olsen developed an appreciation for watching Pac-12 football, and the Colorado Buffaloes in particular.

“All those schools were close to home and I felt like I could relate to those schools, especially CU,” Olsen said. “CU was right there, so I went to a few of their games. That’s where I really started to become a fan of CU.”

On Wednesday, Olsen will officially become a Colorado Buffalo. Rated among the top tight end recruits in the country, the Heritage High School star will sign his national letter of intent on the first day of the three-day early signing period.

“CU definitely enticed me because it had a great mix of everything I was looking for,” Olsen said. “It’s a super fun and great coaching staff, especially (tight ends coach Taylor) Embree. I was able to connect with him as soon as that first phone call came through, and ever since then, it’s been a great relationship.

“Obviously, CU has a great fan base, which, some of the other schools I was looking at, they weren’t the best. CU also has a great engineering department, which is what I’m going to be majoring in.”

CU’s highest-rated player in the 2021 class, according to 247Sports.com, Olsen is one of about 19 players expected to sign NLIs with the Buffs on Wednesday. That will nearly fill the class, CU’s first with head coach Karl Dorrell.

Per NCAA rules, coaches are not permitted to talk about specific recruits until they sign, but Dorrell said, “We feel our recruiting class for 2021 and the kids coming in this summer are outstanding. We really do.

“I believe we just created such a great class of guys that are going to be impact players that can help us right away, just like some of these freshmen came in and helped us this year. To a man, I am very, very excited about this class.”

This has been a recruiting cycle filled with challenges for coaches and players. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the past nine months have been a recruiting “dead period,” meaning no in-person visits, evaluations or one-on-one time. That dead period has been extended to April 15, 2021.

“We spent a lot of time on them, a lot of Zoom meetings,” Dorrell said. “Zoom home meetings with family, the kids, and just the parents. We have done a number of Zoom communication with all of these recruits.”

Despite the challenges of this recruiting cycle, the Buffs have put together a solid class, although one that lacks the star appeal of the 2020 class.

As of Tuesday, CU’s class ranked sixth in the Pac-12 and 51st nationally by Rivals.com. At 247Sports.com, the Buffs’ class ranked seventh in the Pac-12 and 56th nationally.

The Buffs’ conference rankings are the same as the 2020 class, but the average player rating of 0.8416 at 247Sports.com is CU’s lowest since 2016.

It is a class, however, that covers many of CU’s positional needs, filling holes in the roster as the Buffs look forward to the future.

“They are going to give us more depth in certain areas,” Dorrell said. “I have been preaching that all season, about trying to develop our depth and these guys are going to be part of that equation going into 2021.”

Olsen, in particular, helps the Buffs at a position that is important to the offense, but has been depleted by injuries this season. Also, previous coaches didn’t emphasize the tight end much, but Dorrell does in his offense and he’s trying to build the depth there.

“It’s definitely been hard this year with (starter Brady Russell) out and not having a truly versatile tight end,” Olsen said of watching the Buffs this year. “Definitely, the idea of me coming in there and being able to do lots of those things that they’ve been missing from their offense this year is extremely exciting.”

Olsen is rated as a top-25 tight end recruit nationally and a top-five player, regardless of position, in the state. He has 19 total scholarship offers, including eight in the Pac-12.

At 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, Olsen already has good size for a college tight end, and he’s eager to get to Boulder. He is graduating from Heritage this month and will enroll at CU in January.

“It’s so exciting to know that I’m about to start the next chapter in my life,” he said. “It’s really just right around the corner, which is so cool to think about.

“I need to get up there and start putting in the work and seeing myself progress in terms of strength and some of the facets of football that I need to work on. I’m excited to get up there and start working on those.”

Colorado’s 2021 class

A look at the players committed to Colorado for the 2020 football recruiting cycle:

High school players, hometown (high school)

OL Edgar Amaya, Russellville, Ala. (Russellville)

OL Jackson Anderson, Mineola, Tex. (Mineola)

DE Allan Baugh, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

K Cole Becker, Rocklin, Calif. (Rocklin)

QB Drew Carter, Portland, Ore. (Tigard)

P Ashton Logan, Orange, Calif. (Orange Lutheran)

ILB Zephaniah Maea, Henderson, Nev. (Liberty)

OLB Zion Magalei, Chandler, Ariz. (Chandler)

DT Tyas Martin, Jacksonville, Ark. (Jacksonville)

ATH Kaylin Moore, Westlake Village, Calif. (Oaks Christian)

TE Erik Olsen, Littleton (Heritage)

OLB T.J. Patu, La Habra, Calif. (La Habra)

WR Chase Penry, Englewood (Cherry Creek)

ATH Nikko Reed, Hayward, Calif. (Moreau Catholic)

ATH Ty Robinson, Aurora (Eaglecrest)

S Tyrin Taylor, Cornelius, N.C. (William Amos Hough)

DT Ryan Williams, Pearland, Tex. (Shadow Creek)

S Trevor Woods, Katy, Tex. (Taylor)

Junior college transfers

S Trustin Oliver, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Iowa Western C.C.)

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