27 April, 2023
After being hired by Colorado in early December, Deion Sanders offered many cautions on his roster approach.
The Buffaloes’ new head football coach warned the players he had inherited that “we’re going to try to make you quit,” “we’re gonna move on” from some players, and that he wanted them to “get ready to go ahead and jump” in the transfer portal to depart.
After his first spring game in Boulder on Saturday, the danger became more real:
We need to decide something, he said. That will now fall on me.
The next days were Sunday and Monday, and as of Monday afternoon, at least 18 Colorado players had declared their intention to leave the team.
There were some individual shocks, so it’s unclear how many people Sanders and his team encouraged to leave and how many people left on their own. The transfer portal, which is still accessible until April 30, was being used by receiver Montana Lemonious-Craig, who had a strong spring game on Saturday.
Sanders remarked on Saturday following the end of the spring practice season, “You all know we’re gonna move on from some of the team members, and we gonna reload.” “This process will move quickly because we need to find those youngsters who we genuinely identify with. We’re going to finish it quickly, though.
This exodus is neither startling nor unexpected. In order to win now and improve a program that had a 1-11 record the previous year, Sanders is instead bringing in scores of transfer players as part of an extraordinary roster change. He needs a few of his inherited players to quit the squad in some capacity in order to accommodate the newcomers inside the 85-scholarship roster cap.
When Sanders addressed his inherited players during Colorado’s first team meeting in December, he mentioned this. He said, “I want you all to get ready to go ahead and jump in that portal.”
Sanders had 51 scholarship players who were on the team last year before the spring semester began, but 31 of them have already decided to depart.
All of the departing players were a part of a team that had only two successful seasons in the previous 17 years. This includes Lemonious-Craig (23 catches for 359 yards) and Jordyn Tyson (22 receptions for 470 yards before sustaining a season-ending knee injury in November), two gifted athletes who led the club in catches the previous season.
“This was not an easy decision, but one that I have thought long and hard about,” Tyson said in a message Monday that was uploaded on Twitter.
Deion Smith, a running back who led Colorado in rushing last season, said on Monday that he was going via the portal. Last year, he gained 393 yards on 83 attempts.
“I will be entering the portal as a graduate transfer,” Smith said on Twitter. “God makes no mistakes.”
Many more players are already arriving as those ones go. Sanders revealed a class of 42 recruits in February, including 21 athletes who had previously transferred in for the spring semester from other four-year institutions. Before the beginning of autumn practice, more commitments are anticipated.
According to 247Sports, the Buffaloes’ recruiting class of 29 transfers for 2023 is the best in the country, partly because it is the largest in the country. More than 60 of Sanders’ 85 scholarship players may be newcomers for the upcoming season.
Sanders stated on April 8 that “the team we’re playing with now is not the team we’ll play with in Texas the first game.”
Colorado plays TCU on Sept. 2 to start the season.