Colorado’s Deion ‘Coach Prime’ Sanders first recruiting class largest in program history

· Feb. 2, 2023, 4:00 am
20230201-SANDERS-CU-BOULDER20230201-SANDERS-CU-BOULDERHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Deion Sanders, the new coach of the University of Colorado Buffaloes football team.

First-year University of Colorado football coach Deion Sanders — aka "Coach Prime" — made a splash Wednesday when he unveiled his first recruiting class for the Buffs.

Forty-two athletes signed with Colorado — making it the largest recruiting class in CU football history.

And the coach formally known as "Prime Time" during his college and NFL Hall of Fame heyday proudly recited more numbers from his inaugural class.

A top defensive player of the year. Last year's top high school recruit. A No. 21 overall class ranking – which was the highest ranking in 15 years, he pointed out. Plus, a top-five class from the transfer portal, according to 247 Sports.

And Deion's not done.

He's looking to build the class further with transfer students.

"This is just a pause. This is just a comma," teased Sanders, "Because there's a lot of people that's going to bungee jump in that portal after spring because they're going to be disappointed in the playing time and the commitment or the level of participation that they're garnishing.

"And we’re going to take full advantage of that."

It's taken Sanders less than two months in Boulder not only to revamp a downtrodden program but to give a starved fan base something else — hope.

“We’re not recruiting just no ordinary Tom, Dick and Harry,” Sanders said Wednesday on signing day. “We recruited some guys that can light up the scoreboard and prevent touchdowns from occurring. We’re coming. We’re serious about that.

"Hope is in the house. Hope is in the air. Hope is in the city. Hope is in the community.”

Sanders and his veteran staff have been busy scouring the nation for talent. And Sanders, who is no stranger to buzz, has also posted on social media for recruits to reach out to him as well: “I ain't hard to find.”

The Buffaloes signed players from 16 states and two from England. Not only that, they brought in a pair of five-star recruits in high school cornerback Cormani McClain and transfer cornerback/receiver Travis Hunter, who followed Sanders from Jackson State.

And Sanders says he'll be looking for more homegrown, Colorado talent this spring.

"We would love to attain all the talent talents in state," Sanders said. "That's our goal, to be dominant in state. If a kid can play, we want him."

20230201-CAAAS-RABAKA-SANDERS-CU-BOULDERHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Deion Sanders, the new coach of the University of Colorado Buffaloes football team, drew attention as he visited with Professor Reiland Rabaka, director of CU Boulder’s new Center for African and African American Studies, ahead of the the opening ceremony of CAAAS on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023 at Mackey Auditorium.

In all, there are around 35 newcomers on the spring roster.

Maybe that’s why Sanders didn’t really want to talk about each of them by name.

“We’ve got names on the back of their shirts right now,” cracked Sanders, who starts spring practice March 19 with the intrasquad game scheduled for April 22. “I’m not familiar with every kid. I’m not being disrespectful. I’m just being honest.”

Only natural, given that he's completely overhauled the roster from a team that went 1-11 last season. The class has four players from Georgia and seven from Sanders’ home state of Florida. There are eight defensive backs, which will come in handy given the level of quarterback play in the Pac-12.

In addition, Sanders brought in eight wide receivers, including Adam Hopkins, a four-star from Georgia. There's also running back Dylan Edwards, who switched after verbally committing to Notre Dame.

Of course, don't forget that transfer quarterback named Shedeur Sanders, who just happens to be the son of “Coach Prime” and threw 70 TD passes in two seasons at Jackson State.

It hasn't taken long for Sanders to settle into the city of Boulder, calling it a “hidden gem.” He can't wait to move into a house and have "a dog run around the yard.” He even doesn't mind the snow, which blanketed Folsom Field on Wednesday. Quite honestly, he’s not sure why any player would want to go anywhere else.

“We expect to go get that kid,” Sanders said. “Only thing that can keep that kid from coming and signing with us, is a bag — someone paying them, the collectives or whatever. That’s it. Just outkicking the coverage. That’s it.

“Because the coaching staff, the atmosphere, the city, the publicity, the structure, the discipline, the academics, the graduation rate, the food in the cafeteria — I can keep going, because this thing is getting good. Just everything. It’s hard to say no. It really is.”

Listening in was athletic director Rick George, who appreciated the tone of what he heard. Sanders has quickly built the framework for a speedy turnaround.

“He’s brought a lot of energy and passion to this program again," George said. “It’s what we desperately needed.”

Associated Press reporter Pat Graham contributed to this story.

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