During the past 10 years, Colorado has gone from a state not just known for its beauty and tourist destinations.
For college coaches looking for legitimate Division I prospects, the Rocky Mountain State has been a definite place to visit and evaluate. This year is nothing different as the state lays claim to one Rivals100 prospect and easily could have at least one more before signing day in February arrives.
With that in mind, it's no surprise to see the Rivals.com 2006 preseason Colorado top 20 loaded with good quality players.
The ranking is headlined by four-star offensive tackle Butch Lewis. The 6-foot-6, 280-pounder from Aurora (Colo.) Regis Jesuit could also project as a defensive tackle and is one of the most high-recruited line prospects in the nation. Overall he's ranked as the nation's No. 52 player and the No. 6 offensive tackle, and it's a fitting ranking if you ask his coach.
"He's got tremendous size," Regis coach Jim Ryan said.
"He's just a huge kid. He wears a size 18 shoe so we're not even sure he has finished growing yet. He is only 16 years old and he's got tremendous speed too, he can run a sub 5.0-second 40. He's something special. He's the total package."
Colorado Springs (Colo.) Doherty defensive end/fullback Lamarr Houston just missed out on the Rivals100 and he has a great shot at making the list as he moves throughout his senior season. He's ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 2 player in Colorado, and with offers from big-time programs like Arizona State, Colorado, LSU, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA and others look for his stock to only climb higher and higher.
"Lamarr is a physical kid, and he's got a great motor," his coach, Mike Sirko, said. "Lamarr is naturally strong and quick for a kid his size."
No. 3 on the Colorado list is Denver Mullen offensive guard Chris Guarnero. He is one of three players from Mullen to make the list, but definitely the best according to his coach. Guarnero committed early to Colorado, right after the Buffs' last-second victory over Kansas State last fall, but he later backed off that pledge and has since opened things up quite a bit.
Although he plays offensive tackle in high school, Guarnero projects as an offensive guard for the next level. He earned second-team all-conference honors as a sophomore.
"I run block and pass block equally as well," Guarnero said. "I also have good quickness. I'm good at getting up to the linebackers and making more than one block."
Aurora (Colo.) Grandview is home to Aubrey Quarles, a 6-foot, 175-pound receiver that could easily rank right up there with Lewis and Houston as far as talent. However, there are some questions concerning whether or not he will be able to qualify for the next level. Yet, he has big-time talent and is worthy of the No. 4 ranking in the state.
"Aubrey plays with tremendous natural talent," Grandview coach Rocky Whitworth said. "He's one of those guys that when you first put him on the field it just comes to him without any problems. His game is effortless. He just gets it done."
Ft. Morgan, Colo., defensive tackle Seth Jensen rounds out the top five in Colorado. The 6-foot-3, 275-pounder was named all-conference and honorable mention all-state as a junior.
"I love pursuing the ball downfield and I don't ever give up on plays," he said.