Deion Sanders takes on one of the biggest challenges in college football, as he embarks on his first season as head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes. After three lackluster years under Karl Dorrell, the Buffs decided to change course and bring in a high-profile coach to shake things up. Sanders’ success at Jackson State, where he posted a 23-3 record over the past two seasons, has caught the attention of the college football world, but can he replicate that success at a Power Five program that has struggled for almost two decades?
One thing is for sure, Sanders has wasted no time making changes at Colorado. He put together a dynamic coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Sean Lewis, who excelled as a coach at Kent State and defensive coordinator Charles Kelly, who served in a similar role at Alabama. Sanders also made a big splash in the transfer portal, bringing in 45 new additions, including the No. 1 transfer class in the nation. Seven of those transfers followed him from Jackson State, with former No. 1 overall recruit Travis Hunter leading the way.
The changes at Colorado have been significant, but the program faces a unique challenge. Since moving to the Pac-12, the Buffaloes have a combined 27-76 record in conference play, reaching just one bowl game since 2017. However, Sanders is not deterred and has set his sights on turning the program around.
One of the key players to watch this spring is Shedeur Sanders, the coach’s son and a rising junior quarterback who emerged as a legitimate superstar at the FCS level. Shedeur completed over 70% of his passes for 3,732 yards, 40 touchdowns, and six interceptions, and added six more touchdowns on the ground. He should fit perfectly into Lewis’ offense and become one of the top passers in the Pac-12.
Another player to keep an eye on is cornerback Travis Hunter, the No. 1 recruit in the country who exceeded expectations in his first season at Jackson State. Hunter nabbed a pair of interceptions, broke up 10 passes, and even caught four touchdowns. Now, he becomes the most heralded recruit to ever walk on Colorado’s campus and has the potential to be a rare difference-maker on both sides of the ball.
Colorado’s defense was the worst Power Five defense in the nation, giving up over 509 yards per game in 2022. Kelly has his work cut out for him, but he has some talent to work with, including Hunter and five-star recruit Cormani McClain. However, the line play is a major concern, and the Buffaloes will need to make significant improvements to compete in the Pac-12.
The Buffaloes have made significant changes to their roster, with nine of their 26 transfers being offensive or defensive linemen, along with two others from junior college. Offensive line coach Bill O’Boyle will have his work cut out for him as he tries to pull together a passable unit.
Sanders’ arrival has brought a level of excitement to Colorado football that hasn’t been seen in years. The program has a long way to go, but Sanders has the potential to be a game-changer. The Buffaloes will need to have a strong spring slate, with over half the roster not on campus in 2022, and more changes potentially on the way.
Colorado fans are hoping that Sanders’ success at Jackson State can translate to the Power Five level. If he can turn around the Buffaloes, it will be one of the most remarkable coaching jobs in recent college football history.
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