BOULDER – Dante Sparaco has been gearing up to be a Colorado Buffalo for a while now. He was the first one to commit, along with Jonathan Van Diest, as a part of CU’s 2017 recruiting class. Sparaco was able to make his debut in the season opener against Colorado State and he couldn’t have been happier about it.

“It was the best feeling I’ve ever experienced,” Sparaco said. “I’ve played in big games at IMG, I played on ESPN. There was nothing like being in there with that crowd of 72,000 or whatever it was. And being out there with Colorado on your chest and your name on the back. It was the best experience of my entire life.”

The outside linebacker took a different path to college football than most but one that ended up being very beneficial. After playing multiple positions in high school, he finally found his niche as a defensive end/outside linebacker and transferred to IMG Academy to refine his craft.

“The IMG experience was great,” Sparaco explained. “My goal down there was to get ready for college level speed of the game and that happened down there, those guys really know how the play and the coaching staff really helped me especially it being my first year [only]playing defense last year. I got a lot of technique work down there.”

Although Sparaco was born in Raton, N.M., he still considers himself a Colorado kid as he spent the majority of his life in Glenwood Springs and Cherry Creek. Sparaco has been dreaming of donning the silver and gold for a long time.

“I’ve always wanted to play for CU ever since I moved to Colorado,” Sparaco said. “You know, there’s something about playing in your home state. Especially, to be able to stay home and come to a storied program that’s been down for a few years. Last year to bring it back to national prominence, you just want to be a part of that. Especially because your family is here and your friends are here and you just get to be around the place you’ve known your entire life.”

The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder, finished school early to enroll in January to get accustomed to life in Boulder.

“Oh it was awesome,” Sparaco explained. “Getting in here for spring ball, getting in here before I had to compete in fall camp, that was something that was invaluable in my opinion. And also just being in here the whole summer, lifting with guys and getting to know guys before you’re getting thrown into the fire.”

It worked out well enough for Sparaco that he racked up a tackle in each of his first two games as a Buff including a half-sack against CSU. He attributes some of that to getting on campus early but contributing early has always been in the cards for the big linebacker.

“I came here with the expectation to play as a freshman and contribute,” Sparaco said. “That’s what I’ve been expecting since I decided my sophomore year to graduate early and go wherever I was gonna go halfway through my senior year. That was my goal and I was just glad it came to fruition.”

Sparaco has contributed enough early to expect a big career at CU. But he didn’t come to Boulder for his own personal goals. He truly believes in the University of Colorado and wants his legacy to be about the football team and maybe lifting up a trophy or two.

“I want my legacy to not necessarily be my legacy but the team’s legacy,” Sparaco said. “I want the people to remember the team we have here not for the individual players but for what we did as a team and how we brought CU back to prominence and winning national championships again.”

As a sophomore at the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Colorado native, Chase has loved Colorado sports since he was born. He is working towards a degree in the College of Media, Communication, and Information. Chase covers the CU Buffs and DU hockey for BSN Denver. Follow him on twitter for all things Colorado sports @bychasehowell.