February 8, 2008

Major's grandpa got the ball rolling

Nearly two years ago, University of Colorado linebackers coach and newly appointed associate head coach Brian Cabral took an unusual call from a high school player's grandpa.

"I'd never got a call from a grandparent before," Cabral said. "His grandpa is his biggest fan and he told me how good he was. He wanted me to coach his grandson because he respected me as a coach. I had no idea how good his grandson was, but from that call I could tell the kid was a great person."

The grandson in question turned out to be 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebacker Jon Major from Parker (Colo.) Ponderosa who signed his letter of intent on Wednesday to play for the Colorado Buffaloes at a press conference the likes of which had never and may never be seen again at Ponderosa High School.

"On the football field he destroys blockers, has great instincts and runs extremely well sideline to sideline," said Ponderosa head coach Randy Huff. "He was never a vocal leader unless things we're going wrong. He inspired players around him to work harder and just led by example."

During CU coach Dan Hawkins' signing day press conference, Hawkins talked about the quiet and humble nature of Major.

"There was a point during a game we went to where (Major) made a wonderful play and the students began chanting his name," Hawkins said. "He kept looking to the students and kept motioning with his hand to stop the chant. He didn't want the attention. He's a humble kind of kid. Those are the kind of players I want playing for me."

Cabral knew coming into this recruiting cycle that linebacker was going to be a big position of need for CU. Major represented a need in terms of filling a position and CU's goal of keeping in-state talent well, in state. Cabral is ecstatic that a player with Major's ability and dedication is coming to CU.

"(Major) has a great maturity level and should come in and help us right away," Cabral said. "He's been ahead of the learning curve in many ways long beforehis senior year."

Major's maturity level was evident well before receiving over 50 Division I offers.

"Before he even played a game as a sophomore he was asking for game film on opponents," Huff said. "It just showed how far the mental part of his game is. I have never seen a player at this level break down film to the extent that he did."

When it came time for Major to choose a college he took a similar approach.

"He did his homework on all of the schools and went on about 10 visits to," said Major's father Ken Major, who was an honorable mention All-American for Rice. "He looked at each coach's past records with developing talent at linebacker. He was honestly wide open for a while."

The moment Major, who at one point had a top 20, knew he wanted to spend his next four years at CU was after the Buffaloes upset the No.3 and heavily favored Oklahoma Sooners with Major in attendance.

"It showed me that Colorado is a program on the up and up," Major said moments after inking with CU and being awarded his Parade All-American plaque. "They are headed in the right direction with coach Hawkins. I think Hawkins is trying to restore the excitement in the fan base with his enthusiasm."

Major also said Cabral was one of the deciding factors for his decision.
"He's had two Butkus winners, and then Jordan (Dizon) this year," Major said. He's very good at getting you to be your best. He's one of the best coaches in the country."

Cabral enjoys Major's brand of leadership and sees similarities to a former Buff.

"(Major) is a quiet leader," Cabral said. "He's a hard worker and competitive with his team. He garners their full attention when he plays. He isn't loud and doesn't have to be. Jordan didn't have to be loud to be a leader and neither will Jon (Major)."

While recruiting, Cabral looks for certain signs to know if he is recruiting a quality person.

"I value the quality of a recruit over their athletic ability," Cabral said "When you meet the family you know what kind of person you're recruiting. Major's family is a very strong unit with strong values. I tried to call him during the process and his parents told me that he was studying. A lot of times you think a recruit is giving you the cold shoulder, but with (Major) I knew he was doing what was best for him at that time. And I know he did and will continue to do what is best for him."

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