A top receiver, one of the Pac-12 Conference’s best punters and a talented but oft-injured defensive back are the latest members of the Colorado football team to put their names in the NCAA transfer portal.
On Tuesday, defensive back Chris Miller, receiver Dimitri Stanley and punter Josh Watts announced that they will be transferring, as the CU staff continues to shape the roster and make room for incoming players.
CU has had 21 scholarship players enter the transfer portal since September, including 17 since the season came to a close on Nov. 26. Even with those numbers, the Buffs have a projected 83 scholarship players for next season, two below the NCAA maximum of 85. The CU staff is still looking to add several players this offseason.
Stanley, from Cherry Creek High School, has spent four seasons at CU, including the past three as a regular starter as the slot receiver. In all, he played in 30 games for the Buffs with 23 starts.
This past season, Stanley caught 15 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown and had 10 punt returns for 123 yards. During his career, he has 66 catches for 734 yards and four touchdowns, as well as 27 punt returns for 245 yards. Stanley also sprints for the track and field team.
Stanley, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, is the sixth starter to put his name in the transfer portal, joining receiver Brenden Rice, defensive backs Mekhi Blackmon, Christian Gonzalez and Mark Perry and running back Jarek Broussard.
CU has had five receivers from the 2021 team enter the transfer portal, including Stanley, Rice, Chris Carpenter, Keith Miller and La’Vontae Shenault.
The Buffs are projected to have 10 receivers in scholarship next season, including returning seniors Daniel Arias, Maurice Bell and Jaylon Jackson and Baylor transfer RJ Sneed II. Sophomores Montana Lemonious-Craig, Chase Penry and Ty Robinson, who combined for 24 catches last season, are also back. In December, CU signed three incoming freshmen — Grant Page, Chase Sowell and Jordan Tyson — to letters of intent.
Watts, a rising senior from Australia, will finish his two-year CU career with the second-best punting average in program history, at 45.78 yards per punt. Only Mark Mariscal, the 2002 Ray Guy Award winner, has had a better average (46.79).
Last season, Watts ranked sixth nationally in punting average, at 47.8 yards per punt — the third-best single-season average in CU history. He had 24 punts of 50-plus yards and landed 16 of his 66 inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
Watts’ improvement of 6.9 yards from 2020 (40.89) to 2021 (47.79) is the best season-to-season improvement in CU history.
A transfer from Deakin University in Australia, where he didn’t play football, Watts came to CU with two seasons to play. However, when the NCAA granted all players from 2020 an extra season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Watts became eligible for a third season. He will now play that season elsewhere.
Despite Watts’ success this past year, his departure clears the way for incoming freshman Ashton Logan to take over punting duties. Logan was originally part of CU’s 2021 class but grayshirted and delayed his enrollment until this month.
Logan, who graduated from Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High School, was rated as a top-10 punter nationally for the 2021 class by Chris Sailer Kicking. He was the special teams player of the year in the Trinity League as a senior in 2020.
Like Watts, Miller has an extra year to play because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miller, who will be a sixth-year senior in the fall, came to CU from Denton (Texas) High School in 2017. He spent five years with the Buffaloes, playing in 14 games with five starts. He began his career at cornerback before shifting to safety.
Although productive when he was healthy, Miller has dealt with numerous injuries during his time at CU. After redshirting in 2017, Miller finished each of the past four seasons on the injured list. He had an ACL tear, torn hamstring, fractured thumb, and multiple shoulder injuries.
Miller played in only two games this past season, missing the final nine games with a knee injury. Despite his numerous injuries, Miller is eager to pursue playing in his final year.
“I plan on using my available eligibility to go Graduate transfer to get my masters and continue playing the game I Love. … extremely excited for whats next,” he wrote on social media.
CU currently has six safeties projected on scholarship, including senior returning starter Isaiah Lewis. The group also includes sophomores Toren Pittman, Tyrin Taylor and Trevor Woods and incoming freshmen Dylan Dixson and Xavier Smith.
Also on Tuesday, Rice announced that he will be transferring to Pac-12 South rival Southern California. Rice, who put his name in the transfer portal last month, finished second at CU last season in catches (21) and receiving yards (299) and led the team in receiving touchdowns (three). He was also the Buffs’ primary kickoff returner, averaging 27.6 yards on 17 returns.