Deion Sanders makes move that signals he’s playing no favorites at CU

Mar 20, 2023, 3:19 PM

Deion Sanders...

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Take a look at the official Colorado Buffaloes football roster or go see some of the pictures from the opening days of spring practice and you’ll notice something very odd—well actually it’s not odd or even, none of the players have numbers.

This wasn’t a series of jersey mishaps by the fabulous equipment team up in Boulder, instead, it’s something instituted by first-year head football coach Deion Sanders as he attempts to humble a program that went 1-11 last season.

The Buffs kicked off spring practice under Coach Prime over the weekend and finish next month with an exhibition to be televised on ESPN. Prime didn’t just get the Buffs prime programming but he added big-time talent to a program slumping for years. Will those five and four-star gets be promised starting positions did they get handed a bag of NIL money? Unlikely, they weren’t even promised their favorite jersey number.

“I’m old school. Anyone in here over 45 years old? Didn’t we have to earn every darn thing we got? Ain’t nobody gave us nothing,” Sanders said Sunday. “We got kids that ain’t played a snap and you want to be number one… one? You know what number one meant back in the day for us? That you were that one! It’s just a new day. Single digits was something, you had to be him.”

Notice not his son Shedeur Sanders, not the No.1 recruit in the country Travis Hunter, nor anyone else has a number. Though some of the herd already may be on their way to earning what they want to wear. The young Sanders will likely wear No. 2 and Hunter No. 12.

“I come from the place you gotta earn it. When I went school shopping, I had to get a job and work and earn it,” coach Sanders said. “That’s why I appreciate those kind of things. That’s why my kids have to earn things. Everything they’ve gotten in life they’ve had to work for it and earn it. So I don’t give them nothing.”

This is a stark departure from Sanders opening press conference where he promised the starting quarterback gig to his son Shedeur before trying to quell the hype by afterward saying he’ll have to earn it.

Sanders was ahead of his time as a player, getting money from the Yankees and living large while still at Florida State. He changed the way the modern athlete is perceived. If we’ve learned anything yet about how Sanders time may go in Boulder, he’s as old school as a coach as they come and he’s proud of it. Sanders is somewhere between former Seminole Bobby Bowden and Buff Bill McCartney.

How this all meshes with Gen Z student-athletes coming to the bubble of Boulder is going to be a fascinating social experiment, let alone of course that they’re the most interesting program in college football at the moment. If you’re a Buffs fan all in the hype, maybe just wait to see what number Hunter earns before buying a No. 12 in black and gold from the team store.



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