Apr 26, 2024 - News

Buffs return to Folsom amid player turnover

A man in a hooded sweater and sweat pants stands while looking ahead at an American football player huddled down in a gray jersey, a white undershirt and white socks. In the foreground, there are people sitting in stands, while some seats are empty.

Colorado head coach Deion Sanders watches drills prior to a game against Arizona at Folsom Field in Boulder. Photo: Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Colorado head coach Deion Sanders says he's developing a championship-caliber team in Boulder — a bold claim for a squad recovering from a 4-8 season.

Why it matters: It's the exact braggadocio Sanders introduced to the Buffaloes when he arrived two years ago, fueling lots of attention but few wins in his first season in college football's premier division.

What they're saying: "This team is good," Sanders told us during a recent stop in Denver.

  • "I like what I see — wouldn't the coach be a fool if he don't like what he see? I like what I see, I really do."

Reality check: CU won't be seen as a legitimate contender by anyone outside Folsom Field.

  • A return to the Big 12 Conference — with arguably fewer powerhouse programs than the Buffs' previous league, the Pac-12 — still doesn't bode well for a team that mustered just one conference win last season.

State of play: The Buffs will host the annual spring game on Saturday.

  • Under Sanders, the event has turned into a weekend spectacle complete with a concert, despite it being an exhibition game between teammates.

The big picture: The team faces Ralphie-sized questions about its future under Coach Prime, with none more important than whether this squad has made meaningful strides after a dreadful season.

The intrigue: Several notable players have decided to leave CU ahead of the spring game, most recently running back Dylan Edwards, and perhaps most alarmingly cornerback Cormani McClain.

  • McClain was a top high school recruit in 2023 whose decision to pick CU over major programs was largely credited to Sanders. He reportedly said he wants to find a school that will help him develop.

By the numbers: At least 19 players are leaving the program — an ironic twist for Sanders, who earned a reputation last year for exploiting the transfer portal by luring dozens of players from other colleges to CU.

Between the lines: "It's not them, Deion. It's you, my man," Denver Post sports columnist Sean Keeler recently wrote in response to Sanders downplaying the sudden surge in transfers.

  • Sanders told Keeler turnover is normal, but the sportswriter points out the transfers top any other Big 12 school this year.

Yes, but: The team is adding former Ohio State running back Dallan Hayden, former Pittsburgh defensive end Dayon Hayes and Jordan Seaton, the nation's No. 1-ranked offensive lineman recruit in 2024.

  • Seaton is heralded for his potential to improve an offensive line that failed to protect star quarterback — and Coach Sanders' son — Shedeur Sanders, who was the country's most-sacked quarterback last season.

What's next: The CU spring game starts at 1pm Saturday at Folsom Field in Boulder. It airs on the Pac-12 Network.

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