After scouring over prospect lists, CHSAANow all-state teams and 2019 stats, The Denver Post compiled a list of some of Colorado’s top talents on the football field this fall (and some who won’t be). Players are listed in alphabetical order and cover all of the 11-man football classifications.
Tanner Applebee, Sr., LB/R, Resurrection Christian — There isn’t a defensive player in the state with the production to match Applebee, a first-team 2A all-state pick who already has 64.0 tackles for loss, 47.0 sacks and four interceptions on his career resume.
Tanner Arkin, Sr., TE/DL, Fossil Ridge — After missing nearly all of his junior year with a fractured collarbone, the three-star Colorado State recruit is healthy and ready to give opposing teams fits on both sides of the ball, be it as a fullback/tight end or versatile defensive lineman.
Al Ashford III, Sr., CB, Cherry Creek — The Bruins defensive back turned heads with a surprise commitment to Wisconsin this summer — announced via a bottle of hand sanitizer. At 6-1, 170 pounds with blazing speed (7.03-second 60-yard dash), he has all the requisite tools to be a shutdown corner.
Sam Beers, So., RB, Air Academy — The Kadets wunderkind submitted a freshman season for the ages in 2019, when the 5-10, 180-pound back rumbled for 1,805 yards and 30 touchdowns on 272 carries.
Owen Busetti, Sr., LB/RB, Florence — A two-way terror, the first-team 1A all-state selection’s career numbers speak for themselves. As a runner: 2,152 yards and 29 touchdowns on 258 carries. As a linebacker: 156 tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions.
Nolan Bynum, Sr., QB/LB, Delta — A first-team 2A all-state pick as a junior, Bynum was the fulcrum of a Panthers attack that finished one win shy of a state title last fall. The 6-1 quarterback compiled 2,556 yards and 34 TDs on 151-of-259 passing and ran in nine TDs. All that’s left to do now is win the last one.
Wilson Clark, Sr., C, Ralston Valley — As adaptable as they come, the 6-4, 296-pound Idaho commit has taken snaps at tackle, guard and center for the Mustangs. Now, after starting at center as a junior, he’s moving over to left guard to shore up a developing offensive line.
Anthony Costanzo, Jr., DB/WR, Palmer Ridge — Both CU and CSU have already offered the 6-3, 208-pound junior, who showed flashes as a two-way talent his freshman and sophomore seasons (37 receptions, 773 yards; three interceptions) and figures to take a lead role in 2020.
Seth Cromwell, Jr., LB/FB, Columbine — The Rebels lost nearly all of their offensive and defensive production from last year’s 5A runner-up, with the notable exception of Cromwell, a 5-10, 185-pound linebacker who had a team-high 98 tackles as a sophomore and 4.0 sacks.
Kaden Dudley, Sr., WR/S, Palmer Ridge — Originally committed to CU and Mel Tucker, Dudley opted for Boise State after Tucker’s midnight move. Tough loss for the Buffs, who miss out on a three-star athlete capable of both catching (35 receptions, 794 yards, 9 TDs in ’19) and defending (14 career interceptions) passes at a high level.
Hall Edmonds, Sr., LB, Broomfield — With many of the main contributors to last year’s run to the 4A title game since graduated, Edmonds (95 tackles, 1.5 sacks in 2019) will be counted on as a defensive cornerstone for a Broomfield team looking to reload.
Terrance Ferguson, Sr., TE, Heritage — The ninth-rated tight end in the country by 247Sports, Ferguson committed to Oregon following back-to-back seasons with at least 54 receptions and 900 yards receiving. The 6-6, 230-pound senior is 1A to Erik Olsen’s 1B on a loaded TE corps for the Eagles.
George Fitzpatrick, Jr., OT, Cherry Creek — Rated one of the top 50 tackles in the country for the Class of 2022, the 6-6, 270-pound Fitzpatrick is the anchor of a formidable Bruins O-line with blue bloods like Auburn, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Michigan chasing after him.
Beau Freyler, Sr., FS, Pine Creek — A three-star Iowa State commit, Freyler had 73 tackles and three interceptions for the 4A state champions last year. The 6-2, 195-pound safety showed a glimpse of what’s to come in the title-clinching win over Broomfield, registering three tackles for loss.
Ethan Grady, Sr., QB, Valor Christian — The 6-5, 210-pound Bucknell commit arrives at Valor by way of Santa Monica, Calif., where he assaulted defenses with 2,266 yards and 21 touchdowns on 135-of-192 passing as a junior.
Nate Gravagno, Sr., WR/S, Englewood — A three-sport athlete who could challenge the 1,000-point mark on the basketball court, the returning 2A all-state pick is nearing a few benchmarks on the football field as well with 1,916 career receiving yards, 103 catches and 28 TDs.
Travis Gray, Jr., OT, Cherokee Trail — Another one of Matt McChesney’s offensive line prodigies out of Six Zero Strength + Training, the 6-6, 300-pound three-star recruit has an offer on the table from Kansas, with more likely to follow.
Sam Hart, Sr., TE, Cherokee Trail — A second-team 5A all-state pick after hauling in 31 balls for 562 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior, Hart will be an Ohio State Buckeye next fall. The 6-5, 205-pounder isn’t just an offensive threat, either. A year ago, he notched 4.0 sacks.
Julian Hammond III, Sr., QB, Cherry Creek — Already committed to CU basketball, new Buffs coach Karl Dorrell might consider making a pitch to get Hammond in Folsom Field. The 6-2, 180-pound dual threat QB shredded defenses to the tune of 2,354 yards and 28 touchdowns on 187-of-298 passing en route to the 5A state title last fall.
Jack Hanenburg, Sr., QB, Ponderosa — The hub of the Mustangs attack, Hanenburg compiled just over 2,000 total yards and 25 touchdowns as a second-team 4A all-state pick last fall, punishing teams with both his arm (1,431 yards, 25 TDs) and legs (572, 10).
Trevyn Heil, Sr., C, Grandview — After hitting the weight room the past two years, the Nevada commit went from 220 pounds as a sophomore to 275 entering his senior year. The Wolves will need every bit of his talents as the leader of a rebuilt offensive line.
Gunnar Helm, Sr., TE, Cherry Creek — Rated a four-star recruit by Rivals, Helm chose Texas over a bevy of FBS suitors this summer. At 6-5, 220, he is another big, athletic weapon for a talent-rich Bruins offense. He had 25 receptions for 370 yards and eight TDs as a junior.
Zaine Hood, Sr., DE/OL, Brighton — A high-motor player who lines up all over the Bulldogs’ defensive line, Hood has honed his craft the past few offseasons. That work ethic paid off last season (4.0 sacks, 7.0 tackles for loss) when he was a first-team 4A all-state pick.
Zaire Jackson, Sr., CB/WR, Valor Christian — Armed with explosive athleticism and a 5-11, 180-pound frame, the three-star recruit will be an early enrollee at Wyoming. A year ago he had three pass deflections and 38 tackles (two for loss).
Tanner Jolley, Sr., OL/DE, Fruita Monument — An ironman who puts in work on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Wildcats, Jolley is looking to build on a second-team 4A all-state season that included 8.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Connor Jones, Jr., OL, Palmer Ridge — Rated among the top 70 tackles nationally in the Class of 2022, the 6-7, 285-pound pile driver was a force on the right side of the Bears offensive line during last year’s 3A state championship run. Among those making overtures: Michigan, Virginia, Northwestern and CSU.
Cord Kringlen, Sr., OT, Holy Family — A three-year starter for the Tigers, Kringlen has the agility of a former three-sport athlete and the strength to match his 6-5, 275-pound body. Headed to Boise State after this season, he’s regarded as one of the top linemen in the state.
Will Lester, Sr., S, Ralston Valley — The Mustangs’ leading tackler a year ago as a linebacker (105 tackles, 8.0 TFLs, 4.0 sacks), the 6-1, 195-pound senior is now shifting back to safety, where Coach Matt Loyd can lean on his ability to move and cover the field.
George Longoria, Sr., RB, Pueblo South — The state’s leading returning rusher after stacking up 1,896 yards and 23 touchdowns on 338 carries as a first-team all-state selection, Longoria is the engine powering the 3A title favorites.
Luke McAllister, Sr., QB, Palmer Ridge — The latest prolific passer in the Bears’ pipeline, the 6-5, 200-pound CSU Rams commit is the state’s top-rated quarterback by 247Sports after compiling 2,647 yards, 28 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions on 136-of-223 passing in 2019.
Justin Michael, Sr., OT, Poudre — Nearly half the Ivy League wanted Michael, a 6-5, 270-pound offensive tackle who’s also done a little tight end work on the side. Instead, he’ll stay close to home after committing to Colorado State.
Braden Miller, Jr., OT, Eaglecrest — The younger brother of 2018 Gold Helmet winner Barrett Miller, the three-star recruit may very well follow big bro to Stanford. For now, though, he is the anchor of perhaps the deepest O-line in the state with as many as three FBS-level talents on the Raptors’ five-man front.
Clay Nanke, Sr., DE/TE, Regis Jesuit — The three-star recruit has lived in opposing teams’ backfields the past two seasons, racking up 37.0 tackles for loss (23.0 as a junior) and 17 career sacks. CSU, Iowa State, Northern Colorado and New Mexico all want him.
Chase Penry, Sr., WR, Cherry Creek — A two-year varsity starter for the defending 5A state champions, the three-star CU Buffs commit has over 1,400 yards receiving and 17 touchdowns in his prep career. As a junior, he caught 53 passes for 632 yards, including five for 70 yards and a TD in the 5A championship.
Charles Offerdahl, Sr., S/RB, Dakota Ridge — A two-way star and 4A all-state selection as a junior, Offerdahl is an under-the-radar recruit who just produces. If he repeats what he did in 2019 (869 rush yards, 15 TDs, 91 tackles, four interceptions) that may change quickly.
Seyi Oladipo, Sr., CB, Eaglecrest — Paired opposite teammate and fellow FBS recruit Langston Williams (CSU), the 5-11, 165-pound defensive back is a returning first-team 5A all-state selection with five career interceptions still waiting to choose between the likes of Boise State, Air Force, Army and CSU.
Dezmen Oliver, Jr., RB/S, Fountain-Fort Carson — The 5-9, 153-pound Trojans back came on strong near the end of 2019, topping 100 yards in five of his last six games, including 200-plus against Regis Jesuit and Doherty, as part of a 190-carry, 1,227-yard season.
Erik Olsen, Sr., TE, Heritage — The other half of the Eagles’ talented TE corps, Olsen handed new CU coach Karl Dorrell an early recruiting win with his pledge to the Buffs this summer. The 6-5, 240-pound two-sport athlete had 28 receptions for 533 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior.
Grant Page, Jr., WR, Fairview — After making an immediate impact as a sophomore (76 catches, 1,250 yards,15 TDs), the 6-2, 175-pound two-sport star is rated among the top 40 receivers in the nation for the Class of 2022 by 247Sports. A whole lot of schools (CU, CSU, Nebraska, Kansas State, Wisconsin) seem to agree.
Ryan Phelan, Sr., QB/DE, Meeker — A two-year varsity starter, the first-team 1A all-state pick is Colorado’s No. 4 returning passer after throwing for 2,396 yards and 22 TDs as a junior. He also ran 41 times for 248 yards and nine touchdowns and had four sacks.
Jack Pospisil, Sr., WR/DB, Pomona — A second-team 5A all-state pick last season, the shifty 5-8, 176-pound Central Missouri State commit is dangerous no matter where he gets the ball in the Panthers attack (983 total yards, 14 TDs).
Myles Purchase, Sr., DB/RB, Cherry Creek — There isn’t a phase of the game left untouched by Purchase, who was equal parts dynamic returner (four return TDs), rusher (three rushing TDs) and cover corner (four interceptions, all returned for TDs) as an all-state pick last season. The three-star recruit will be playing on Saturdays. Where that will be is TBD.
Zack Rakowsky, Jr., QB/CB, Loveland — He may be small in stature (5-8, 135 pounds), but Rakowsky’s game is all sorts of big. A year ago, he gashed teams to the tune of 1,128 yards rushing and 873 passing as a second-team 4A all-state pick. What will he do for an encore?
Leslie Richardson III, Sr., QB, Smoky Hill — After torching the 5A Metro 10 League the past two seasons — 3,940 passing yards with 42 TDs and just 12 interceptions — the 6-3, 210-pound QB has a chance to show he can produce against the best in a loaded Centennial League.
Ty Robinson, Sr., WR/DB, Eaglecrest — The Eagles’ rangy pass-catcher chose football over basketball amid a handful of scholarship offers, opting to stay in-state with CU. At 6-4, 190 pounds with windmill-dunk hops, the Buffs got a good one (35 receptions, 861 yards, 14 pass deflections in 2019).
Gavin Sawchuk, Jr., RB, Valor Christian — A consensus national top-50 recruit for 2022, all the big names are after Sawchuk (Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State). And with good reason. The 5-11, 185-pound junior may be the fastest player in the state (10.62-second 100-yard dash). And as his career stats suggest (2,698 total yards, 37 TDs), he knows how to use that speed.
Chase Silva, Sr., QB, Skyline — Two years removed from a surprise run to the 4A title game, Silver enters his final season as the engine of the Falcons attack with 5,112 career passing yards, 61 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, as well as 383 yards and five TDs on 95 carries.
Kory Tacha, Sr., RB/LB, Limon — The reigning 1A player of the year has been an ironman for the Badgers throughout his prep career as both a runner (3,608 total yards) and all-field defensive menace (16 tackles for loss, four interceptions).
Mukendi Wa-Kalonji, Sr., DE, Grandview — The “energizer bunny” of the Wolves’ 3-3-5 defense, the 6-5, 210-pound senior is a CSU commit with two varsity seasons under his belt who totaled 3.0 sacks and 5.0 tackles for loss in 2019.
Arden Walker, Sr., DE, Cherry Creek — Currently uncommitted, the 6-4, 250-pound senior has been on the radar of Power 5 programs since his sophomore year. A two-year starter and first-team 5A all-state pick, he has eight sacks in his prep career and 11 tackles for loss.
Kaden Weatherby, Jr., OT, Eaglecrest — The 6-6, 275-pound three-star recruit is one half of arguably the best tackle tandem in the state lining up opposite Braden Miller. And he may not even be the best prospect in his family: Sophomore brother, Kael, is a talented pile driver in his own right.
Brayden Wood, Sr., DL, Fairview — The Knights are best known for flinging it all over the field, but their best player is a defensive lineman who flings ball carriers to the ground. The 6-3, 267-pound Kansas State commit racked up a team-high 116 tackles (18.0 for loss) and 2.5 sacks last season, and he even hauled in a few passes. This is Fairview, after all.
Jordan Woolverton, Sr., QB, Durango — A three-year varsity starter, Woolverton does it all for the Demons. On top of passing (1,941) and running (1,005) for over 1,000 yards in 2019, Woolverton also had a hand in 38 TDs, intercepted three passes and piled up 35 tackles.
Gus Zilinskas, Sr., DT, Cherry Creek — The 6-3, 263-pound Rutgers commit was a menace upfront for the Bruins last season, notching 10.0 tackles for loss and six sacks in his second season starting on the Cherry Creek defensive line.
Missing from Colorado this fall
These players either transferred out of state for other opportunities or won’t be participating in the fall season due to school decisions.
Jack Howell, Sr., ATH — One of Valor Christian’s most versatile players the last two years, the CSU Rams commit and first-team all-state pick is one of several Colorado defections to Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz. — a list that also includes former Grandview running back Noah Schmidt (292 carries, 1,815 yards), the state’s sixth leading rusher in 2019.
Nicco Marchiol, Jr. QB — The first high-profile transfer out of state, the lefty quarterback opted to plant his flag at Hamilton High School in Chandler last March after throwing for 2,552 yards, 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions at Regis Jesuit in 2019.
Braylen Nelson, Sr., DT/OT — Vista Peak Prep’s three-star tackle is headed to Fresno State, but he and teammate Ja’Derris Carr-Kersh, an electric running back who is Princeton-bound, will miss out on fall football after their school opted to stick with the spring season.
Jake Rubley, Sr., QB — Once the top-rated Class of 2021 recruit in the state, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Kansas State commit left Highlands Ranch in August for a chance to play this fall for Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Avery Shunneson, Sr., LB — A three-sport star for Thomas Jefferson who had 103 tackles and 7.5 sacks as a junior, the future Princeton product will sit out the fall season like the rest of his counterparts in Denver Public Schools.
Trey Zuhn, Sr., OT — Depending upon who you ask, the 6-foot-7, 276-pound tackle from Fossil Ridge is either the No. 1 or 2 prospect in the state. Committed to Texas A&M, his senior season was lost to an ACL tear over the summer.
*All stats taken from Maxpreps.com, ratings from 247Sports.com
This content was originally published here.