Are things unraveling for Deion Sanders’ CU Buffs in Boulder?

Nov 27, 2023, 3:51 PM | Updated: 4:07 pm

In the hours since the Colorado Buffaloes 4-8 season has ended, the program has lost some major talent.

In back-to-back days the Buffs have lost their quarterbacks of the future. Class of 2024 gunslinger Danny O’Neil announced Monday he was reopening his recruitment process, while Antwann Hill Jr. shared the same news on Sunday. Also on Sunday morning, one of Colorado’s most respected staff members, Tim Brewster made his resignation public. And on Monday, another big CU recruit decommitted, as running back Jamarice Wilder made it a trio of former future Buffs.

Deion Sanders’ first year leading the Buffaloes started with the promise of Louis. The season began in luxury, jumping to 3-0. The ending though has left Colorado riding a six-game losing streak into next season and there are major questions that continue to amass early in the offseason.

Did the momentum Sanders swept the nation with early in the fall dissipate into only mockery this winter? Were Sanders flaws during the losing stretch elevated beyond his obvious benefits? And the big one—is this mission about a sustainable Buffaloes program or doing what’s best for son quarterback Shedeur Sanders and his NFL Draft hopes?

All these questions aren’t really answerable, just ones that will hang over this offseason in Boulder.

What is known on Monday, is that a few days ahead of early signing day for the 2024 class, Colorado no longer has a single commit for the 2025 class—and has lost five commits in total in the past fortnight. Colorado recently lost out on 2025 four-star wide receiver Winston Watkins Jr. and three-star offensive lineman Talan Chandler. Sanders slammed the NCAA and those players for allowing kids to keep visiting other schools after having already committed. That message seemed to not go over well with the two other members of the class of 2025 in the consensuses four-star quarterback Hill and the three-star back Wilder, who are back open to joining other campus.

Colorado’s class for 2024 isn’t looking too good either, rated No. 65 in the country per 24/7 Sports. That number is just three spots higher than Colorado State, though has four four-stars to the Rams’ one. The Buffaloes incoming class, which should be finalized and added to in the coming days features Georgia athlete Kamron Mikell and California athlete Aaron Butler. The two are both rated among the top 100 players in their high school class in the country.

Still, any freshman is unlikely to have a major impact on the 2024 season let alone the fact Colorado needs the most help at offensive line. The Buffaloes currently only have one commit in three-star Issiah Walker Jr., who plays up front.

“What we need for Shedeur, we know where to find it,” Coach Prime said on Saturday. “It ain’t hard to find.”

One of the things needed for Shedeur and Colorado’s offense was better coaching, at least in Coach Prime’s eyes. Midseason he demoted Sean Lewis from play-caller and offensive coordinator to sharing the gig with Pat Shurmur, who would be calling plays. That shakeup pushed Brewster out of his everyday coaching role and leader of the tight ends to an analyst. Brewster followed Prime from Jackson State to Boulder but he was a coach with loads of experience. He had stints with the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers and was even the head coach at Minnesota from 2007-10. The midseason change also changed the perception around Lewis for the future and is likely contributing to some of the offensive decommitments. And while it is hard to judge since Shedeur got hurt, the offense did statistically take a step back when Shurmur led the play-calling.

Brewster won’t be the last domino to fall on Sanders’ staff, and it’s already known NFL legend Warren Sapp will be joining the Buffs next season.

Ultimately Sanders’ biggest battle will be talent acquisition. The Louie already here in his son and Travis Hunter are two of the best players the Buffaloes have had in a long time. What’s next is surrounding them with more great players, and this offseason will be won and lost in the transfer portal not with high shcool’s hat choices. Despite being 4-8, Colorado’s mark of an FBS-high eight one-score games may be giving Prime more hope. He’s said over and over that the team was just seven to 10 players short of reaching his goals.

“We already know what’s going to come in the next few days to a week and a half,” Sanders said Saturday. “You are going to be pleased with what’s coming. I promise you that. Everything where we have a deficit, we’re going to fill that need.”

There’s no questioning the success of Sanders first year, jumping from one to four wins and bringing CU back to relevance. Prime’s mission however is not relevance, it’s domination. Sanders laid it out on Saturday for the world to wait and see this winter for whatever is next. And early on, the seeing has been some highly important pieces bolting from Boulder.


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