Deion Sanders has quickly revamped the Colorado Buffaloes football program. The transfer portal is buzzing nonstop with players interested in coming to Boulder, and a flurry of players have left Boulder to play elsewhere after Coach Prime came to town.
Just about every day, the Buffs are tied to a high-profile transfer. In recent days, they’ve landed a pair of former Florida State players and Washington edge Sav’ell Smalls, a former five-star recruit.
Following the spring game, many players left, including wide receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig. Some have been surprised at Coach Prime’s strategy of out with the old and in with the new, but Colorado’s roster is quickly becoming the best it has been in years, at least on paper.
Several coaches and executives from across the college football world revealed their thoughts on what is happening in Boulder, although they spoke on an anonymous basis. Here are some of the things that they said (h/t Max Olson and Bruce Feldman of The Athletic — subscription required):
A director of player personnel in the Big 12
Oct. 23, 2021; Lawrence, Kansas; A general view of the Big 12 Conference logo on the field after the game between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Oklahoma Sooners at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
“What we know is all eyes across all of college football are gonna be on Colorado. It will impact the future of college football markedly for the next generation, one way or another.”
This is the truth. The transfer portal and NIL will change the game forever, and Coach Prime is already kicking things into high gear.
An ACC recruiting director
Sept. 4, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia; A detailed view of the ACC logo on the down marker used during the game between William & Mary Tribe and the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium. Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
“It’s a tremendous risk to replace all of those guys. It’s an experiment that has never happened on this big of a scale.”
A roster overhaul like this has never happened before. However, after going 1-11 a season ago, you can’t fault Deion Sanders for trying.
A Pac-12 director of player personnel
Dec. 3, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada; A detailed view of the Pac-12 Conference logo at midfield at Allegiant Stadium before the 2021 Pac-12 Championship Game between the Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
“I’d be less worried about culture and locker room dynamics right now in Year 1 than I would be about having enough players to line up and stay healthy.”
It’s only May, but the Buffs’ roster already looks way more talented than it has been in the past decade. The culture has changed, but the depth of the roster is in shambles. Nonetheless, it’s not over yet.
A Power Five coach on Colorado's O-line
April 22, 2023; Boulder, Colorado; Members of the Colorado Buffaloes at the line of scrimmage during the first half of a spring game at Folsom Field. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
“If you’re him (Colorado target Alton McCaskill, a Houston running back transfer), don’t you have to wonder who you are gonna be running behind?” one Power Five coach asked. “Deion let the entire O-line go.”
The Buffs saw a bunch of players leave, including a large number up front. However, they added some quality players, including a couple of lineman from Kent State who followed Sean Lewis to Boulder.
A Power Five director of football operations on the NIL space at Colorado
April 22, 2023; Boulder, Colorado; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders during the first half of the spring game at Folsom Field. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
“People can say what they want,” one Power Five director of football operations said, “but with NIL, for him to get legit dudes, he’s got to have real money.”
The Buffs were not a factor in the NIL world before but with Deion Sanders in Boulder, that’s going to change, and it apparently already has.
An SEC staffer
The SEC logo has a first coat of paint on the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as the grounds crew prepares the field for the first game of the season, on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville Florida. Sept. 1, 2022. The Gators start the season Saturday against the No. 7 ranked Utah Utes.
“If you’re trying to bring in a bunch of these guys essentially all at once, how can you vet all these things out?” one SEC staffer wondered. “You’re hoping to go 50% on the ones that work out.”
Again, the Buffs were 1-11 last season. Karl Dorrell flopped and Mel Tucker left for Michigan State prior to that. Things were brutal in Boulder, so even if half of the new players work out, it’s still going to be a much better product than in years past.
April 22, 2023; Boulder; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders (12) prepares to pass during the first half of the spring game at Folsom Field. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
“When we release the list of guys that we already got coming in, then everybody is going to say, ‘OK, now I see what he’s doing.’”
This quote is from Shedeur Sanders, Colorado’s expected starting QB and the son of Coach Prime. He knows a thing or two about what his dad is capable of.
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