BUFFS

Three Buffs named to Big 12 preseason team, including a big honor

Jul 2, 2024, 12:57 PM | Updated: 12:58 pm

Travis Hunter #12 and Shedeur Sanders #2 of the Colorado Buffaloes...

Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

It stands to reason that if you have the conference’s best quarterback, best defensive player and a top-tier edge rusher to boot you would rank well in the preseason conference media poll. But nope, the Colorado Buffaloes have three players named to the Big 12’s preseason team and are still expected to finish 11th.

Colorado’s star-studded cast is led by two of the best players in college football in star quarterback Shedeur Sanders and wide receiver/defensive back Travis Hunter, who are both expected to be in the Heisman race. While most would think the QB has a leg up for all honors, Hunter may actually have a better shot at all the honors since he plays more than anyone else as a two-way marvel. It’s these skills that have Hunter nabbing a bigger preseason honor than Sanders, named the Big 12’s preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

Even while missing a big chunk of last season thanks to a dirty hit in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, Hunter was one of the best players in the nation. The first two-way star at Colorado in decades had a great year, catching 57 passes for 721 yards and five touchdowns on offense while making 30 tackles and snagging three picks on defense. He ended the season with the most snaps played in FBS despite his three-and-a-half game absence, playing 436 snaps on offense, 566 on defense and 30 on special teams to surpass—an average of 115 plays a game. Hunter became the first player in at least the last quarter century with 50-plus receptions and three or more interceptions, the only comparable season coming from future Denver Broncos legend Champ Bailey in 1998 at Georgia when he had 47 receptions for 744 yards and five touchdowns and three interceptions.

Meanwhile, Sanders had multiple record-breaking performances, and his last quarter of play in the season saw him break Colorado’s school record for passing yards in a season which is now 3,230 yards. The record was held by Sefo Liufau’s at 3,200. Sanders also finished just shy of Liufau’s mark of most passing touchdowns in a Buffaloes season, set at 28, also in 2014. Sanders had 26 TD tosses in 2023 which is good for second in program history.

The two were joined on the All-Big 12 Team by a big-time transfer, who was an All-Pac-12 player at Arizona State last year in B.J. Green. The 6-foot-1, 270-pounder posted career highs in tackles with 39, 11.5 of which were tackles for loss and six of which were sacks. Green also hurried the quarterback 11 times and forced a fumble. The former walk-on three-star in Tempe, Green will have another shot at The Burlsworth Trophy, which goes to the nation’s best player who started their career without a scholarship. He was a finalist for the honor in 2023.

So it’s Sanders, Hunter and Green as Colorado’s Big 3 headed into next fall.

Hunter’s Player of the Year counterpart on offense is Oklahoma State running back Ollie Gordon, the lone consensus first-teamer. He led the nation in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns last season but was arrested earlier Tuesday.

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