Coach Deion Sanders has recruited so many new players for his new job at Colorado that it is impossible for him to know them all by name.
So, in his first news conference in Boulder since being unveiled as the Buffaloes’ new football coach on December 4, he made a special request to the media.
“OK, kind of shy away from names,” Sanders said to reporters before they began questioning him. “I’m not sure I know everyone’s name. I’m not familiar with all of the players’ names. I’m not going to pretend otherwise. When appropriate, I shall assign them nicknames and call them by their given names. I have their names written on the backs of their jerseys right now, but I’m not familiar with every child… And I’m not being impolite. I’m just being truthful.”
This is understandable given that in just eight weeks on the job, he has attracted a class of 42 newcomers, including 23 transfers from other four-year universities. Twenty-nine of them have already registered. More could be on the way once the NCAA transfer portal reopens in May. READ MORE -IN THE US, A STRONG WINTER STORM STOPS FLIGHTS AND MAKES THE ROADS DANGEROUS.
According to 247 Sports, they are the largest class of newcomers in school history and have earned a No. 21 national ranking – a remarkable turnaround for a program that has had losing seasons in 15 of the last 17 years, including a 1-11 season in 2022.
Sanders, a college and Pro Football Hall of Famer, discussed his plans for additional recruitment this spring, how he was able to pull it all off, and his thoughts on money in recruiting now that players can earn money from their names, photos, and likenesses (NIL).
What about money that doesn’t exist?
When asked about his recruiting pitch to athletes, Sanders provided an answer that allayed any concerns some may have had about NIL money suddenly luring recruits to Boulder. Sanders has significantly increased Colorado’s national profile. As a result, it stands to reason that recruits will have more opportunities to profit from NIL.
“I don’t sell anything,” Sanders declared during the news conference, which was also broadcast live on the internet. “Here’s the thing. That’s all there is to it. If you’re here for NIL or to be wealthy, one of the first things I tell you is, ‘We’re not the school for you.’ But if you’re here to become a man, acquire a degree, a fantastic education, and grow, win, and go pro, we might be able to help you. So we’re not here to discuss the NIL. We’re here for the NFL, and we’re here to help you grow into a man. However, we do not have anything for sale.”
His news conference occurred on national recruiting signing day, despite the fact that the majority of CU’s freshmen had already signed or enrolled.
Sanders made one of the most audacious statements on Wednesday when asked about his recruiting prowess in such a short period of time. He stated that he and his staff anticipate such results. Then he said something about his approach to recruiting a player:
“The only thing that could prevent that child from coming and signing with us is a bag (of money), someone paying him, the (NIL) collectives, or whatever,” Sanders, also known as Coach Prime, explained. “That’s all there is to it. And simply outkicking the opposition. Because of the coaching staff, the environment, the city, the publicity, the structure, the discipline, the academics, the graduation rate, and the cafeteria food. I could go on since this thing is getting better. Simply everything. It’s difficult to say no. READ MORE–WHEN DOES “UNLOCKED” MAKE ITS NETFLIX DEBUT? AND ANYTHING ELSE ABOUT KOREAN THRILLERS?
Sanders, 55, believes Boulder “sells itself” because of its mountains, natural beauty, and lack of crime. He also told recruits’ parents that he has sat in “all three seats.”
“I’ve been the player and youngster being recruited,” said Sanders, who was wearing a Colorado Nike jacket as part of his deal with the university. “I’ve been the parent right next to the youngster who’s being solicited. Now I’m the one recruiting the kid. So, mama, I understand how you feel.”
He said today’s athletes are too young to recall him as a star in the NFL and Major League Baseball star. However, “their parents do,” he stated. “So the parents are discovering the stability of the way I maintain life and myself.”
He drew players from all around the world. They came from 16 different states and two different countries, the most in the University of Colorado history.
Sanders is still recruiting for 2023.
In May, the transfer portal will reopen. He begins spring practice at CU in March and will play in the spring game on April 22. The NCAA limits him to 85 scholarship athletes. With more players coming in, it’s feasible that more players will depart Colorado or be forced out.
Wednesday is signing day. “It’s just a pause,” he explained. “It’s just a comma. Because there will be a lot of people who will bungee-jump into that portal after spring because they will be dissatisfied with their playing time, dedication, or level of participation. And we intend to take full use of it. So we’re not finished.”
Hope has returned to Boulder.
Sanders lauded Boulder and the warm welcome he’s received from the community, which hasn’t seen its football program receive this much national attention since the 1990s and late 1980s when the Buffs were a consistent Top 25 team. Colorado went bowling games frequently under coach Bill McCartney, who recently paid Sanders a visit to the CU athletics facilities. In 1990, McCartney guided the Buffs to a share of the national championship.
“I genuinely believe hope has been reestablished,” Sanders remarked. Although I believe it to be present, I have found that there are moments when the light of optimism must be turned on. And there is hope in the house. There is a sense of optimism in the air. Hope has arrived in the city. There is hope in the community. All of you have hope within you (the news media). And you want to write well. You don’t want to write anything nasty.”
What has changed?
Cormani McClain, the nation’s top cornerback recruit, signed with Colorado on Wednesday after previously committing to Miami (Fla.)
Demouy Kennedy, a linebacker from Alabama, also announced his transfer to Colorado on Instagram. According to 247 Sports, he was the state of Alabama’s top-ranked recruit in 2020, but he has since played as a backup or on special teams before suffering a season-ending knee injury in October. He is not one of the 23 transfers in the newcomer class revealed on Wednesday, but the Buffs are interested in him.
McClain will join Travis Hunter, a transfer from Jackson State who was ranked as the No. 1 cornerback recruit in 2022 after signing on Wednesday. Both aspired to play for Sanders, himself a great former defensive back.
“I love where we’re at and what we’ve got,” Sanders remarked. “From what I’ve seen on paper, I really like the secondary.”
It’s all his fault.
“He’s done a tremendous job not only in the portal but also in high school,” said Adam Gorney, Rivals.com’s national recruiting director. “He closed with some big-name guys who would not have gone to Colorado if he hadn’t been there.”
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