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Top 15 CU Buffs football players of the decade - #5

Ryan Koenigsberg Avatar
June 8, 2015


For the next couple weeks we will be counting down the top 15 Colorado football players since the 2005-2006 season. Of course, it’s not the most fun decade to be looking at, but I think the down period created an interesting challenge when creating this list.

As it always goes with these lists, there is not an exact formula to determine the top 15, I tried to weigh a player’s success at CU over all other factors, but of course things like NFL success and fan favorite status creeped into the decision making process.

I’m sure people will disagree with placement, or certain players being left off, but that’s part of the fun of these, so as we work down the list, let me know where you disagree!

#5 – Joel Klatt

Klatt’s high position on this list has a little bit to do with the fact that he is the best player at the most important position on the field in this decade, but that doesn’t mean his play doesn’t warrant a high ranking on the list.

Klatt left CU as the career leader in a large chunk of the major passing categories, including yards (7,375), touchdowns (44), completion percentage (60.8), attempts (1,095) and completions (666). He also set a school record with nine career fourth quarter comebacks to win or tie games, and for his career, Klatt boasted a 24-to-2 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions in the red zone.

Klatt’s road to becoming the starting quarterback at Colorado was less than ordinary, after high-school, where he lettered in three sports (football, basketball, and baseball) Klatt decided to pursue the latter. He was an 11th round pick by the San Diego Padres in the 2000 draft, and played two seasons before deciding to give college football a try instead.

That’s where CU comes in, Joel was merely a walk-on for the Buffs, and in his freshman year he showed his athleticism by working on special teams rushing punts and blocking on kick returns. He also came in and threw a few passes in garbage time against Baylor. At the time Klatt was one of just four walk-ons since 1986 to see action as a freshman.

Some mop up duty, and special teams work, sounds like usual stuff for a walk-on, but all the sudden, as a sophomore, Klatt exploded.

After earning the starting quarterback job in camp, Klatt showed fans and coaches that he was no fluke in the first game of the season against CSU. He completed 21-of-34 passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns (and no interceptions), in posting a single-game quarterback rating of 199.9, the second best rating in CU history for a game with 30 or more attempts. It was the third best debut by a quarterback, in terms of yards, in CU history, behind only Koy Detmer and Kordell Stewart. All in all the game was a thing of beauty, walk-on QB making his first start or not.

(Warning: Potato quality.)

That season Klatt set 19 school records and earned honorable mention All-Big XII honors, while also earning the John Mack award as the Buffs most outstanding offensive player, and the best interview award from CU’s media.

As a junior, Klatt was finally placed on scholarship. He posted just the 10th 2,000 yard passing season in Colorado history at the time, and was named offensive MVP of the Champs Sports Bowl against UTEP.

As a senior, Klatt was once again an honorable mention All-Conference performer, while being selected by his teammates as the MVP of the team, and also winning the Buffalo Heart Award, as selected by the fans. At once point, Klatt strung together a school record 139 passes without an interception. On the year he completed 241-of-400 passes for 2,696 yards and 14 touchdowns, throwing just eight interceptions (his 0.20 interception percentage was a season record). He led the Buffs to a Big-12 North title, and finished as the conferences fifth all-time leading passer.

After Colorado, Klatt had a short stint in the NFL, but injuries kept him down. He has since gone on to have an extremely successful career in broadcast working his way up from calling prep games, to denver sports radio, to being a part of the Root Sports team for the Rockies, and now setting in nicely on the national level as a college football studio and game analyst for Fox Sports.

Previous players:

#6 – Rodney Stewart

#7 – Mason Crosby

#8 – Nelson Spruce

#9 – Scotty McKnight

#10 – Jimmy Smith

#11 – Cody Hawkins

#12 – Hugh Charles

#13 – George Hypolite

#14 – Greg Henderson

#15 – David Bakhtiari


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