BOULDER — Nuts, right? Just think: If only Mel Tucker had managed the clock and used Laviska Shenault against USC the way he did against Stanford.
The CU Buffs would be 5-5 right now, with a bye and one more home game left on the docket. Clay Helton would still be trying to hitch a ride back to University Park to collect what was left of his belongings.
But every step forward during a rebuild, even a baby one, is sweet progress. In terms of warm fuzzies, the first week of November capped the best seven days — not the most profitable, as Nebraskans took care of that one ages ago — for Buffs football since Tucker was handed the keys last December.
On Saturday, it was a Cardinal pelt tacked on the wall, the first November victory in Boulder since 2016. Last Tuesday, it was Antonio Alfano’s transfer on the books, the first five-star prep talent to hit Stadium Drive since Darrell Scott in 2008.
“Every Division I program is going to have their good guys,” Alfano, the former Alabama defensive end and New Jersey native, told The Denver Post. “I think we have a great team. I think that we have a lot to build on. I think Coach Tucker, with the recruiting class he’s built there, we’re going to have a lot of guys coming in, not only in high school, but also (from) junior college.
“Also, when I was talking to (defensive line coach Jimmy) Brumbaugh, they were talking about how they’ve got a lot of big, stout guys on the defensive line. He was saying that they’re trying to get the faster-twitch guys off the edge, guys getting to the passer off the edge.”
Alfano, who reportedly clocked a 4.8-second 40-yard time at 285 pounds, figures to be one of those guys. So could Jason Harris, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound, four-star defensive end out of Gilbert, Ariz., one of four official visitors the Buffs had on hand over the weekend.
Unofficially, Tucker hosted at least 80 recruits Saturday, prospects who got to witness his first career home Pac-12 victory firsthand and all the unabashed joy that followed. The four official visitors were the most for any home in-season CU tilt, according to 247Sports.com’s database, since the three who had reportedly visited during Nebraska weekend, Sept. 6-7.
Wild party then.