Judging by the University of Colorado Buffaloes’ performance on the football field this year, it might be hard to imagine any of the players having a shot at an NFL career. But a closer look reveals that players like Jimmy Smith are primed for the next level of play. The team’s star defensive back is projected to be selected in the second round of the upcoming NFL draft, reports The Denver Post. If there’s a professional football season in 2011, Smith’s life is going to change dramatically. The next six weeks for Smith will include intensive weight training and preparations for NFL interviews, which will delve into every detail of his life.

Meanwhile, new CU coach Jon Embree is apparently already having a positive impact on recruitment. Two of his incoming rookies—Mullen High School’s Brady Daigh and Arvada West’s Marc Mustoe—are listed in Rival.com’s top 10 recruits for the state, also according to the Post. (Last year, CU didn’t claim any of the state’s top 10 recruits, a fact that dogged former coach Dan Hawkins.)

Embree has also convinced University of Texas wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy to move back to Boulder for the same position at CU. The Daily Camera points out that Kennedy is a Boulder native, who graduated from Boulder High School in the 1980s and then attended the University of Northern Colorado. Despite the local connections, Embree’s ability to lure Kennedy away from Texas without promoting him is notable, considering that Texas has one of the premier college football programs in the nation and that Kennedy brings 20 years of coaching and recruiting expertise.