In the spring, Colorado running back Alex Fontenot was asked if he had watched any film of transfer Ramon Jefferson, who was expected to join the team in the summer.
“I don’t pay attention to new recruits,” Fontenot said.
Good thing, because Jefferson won’t be coming to CU after all.
On Friday, Jefferson, a former Sam Houston running back and one of CU’s top transfer recruits of the offseason, announced that he has de-committed from the Buffs and will play elsewhere in his final year of eligibility.
Expected to compete with Fontenot for the starting job, Jefferson had previously committed to Colorado in January and signed a grant-in-aid. A grant-in-aid is binding for the school, but not for the student-athlete until they enroll in school, so Jefferson was still recruitable by other teams as he finished up his academic year at Sam Houston.
CU recruited Jefferson after losing star Jarek Broussard, who transferred to Michigan State. Broussard, the 2020 Pac-12 offensive player of the year, led the Buffs in rushing the past two seasons.
In two seasons at Sam Houston, Jefferson rushed for 1,907 yards and 20 touchdowns, helping the Bearkats go 21-1. Sam Houston won the spring 2021 FCS national title. Last fall, he ran for 1,155 yards and 13 touchdowns, was named a third-team All-American by the Associated Press and helped Bearkats reach the FCS semifinals.
During his collegiate career, the 5-foot-9, 215-pound Jefferson has played for three schools (also Maine and Garden City Community College) and racked up 3,938 yards and 41 touchdowns on the ground, while averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
Without Jefferson, the Buffs’ backfield will be led by Fontenot, a sixth-year senior who paced the team in rushing in 2019, with 874 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He also caught 27 passes for 122 yards.
Playing behind Broussard last year, Fontenot had 326 yards and led the team with five rushing touchdowns and six total touchdowns. He missed the 2020 season with a hip injury.
This spring, Fontenot was one of only three scholarship running backs on the field, along with junior Deion Smith and sophomore Jayle Stacks.
Fontenot expressed his confidence in the trio.
“I know we can get it done,” he said. “If it was just us three, we could get it done as an offense. That’s the confidence I have in our room. So it’s really no worries that the numbers are down because the talent is still there.”
The Buffs, of course, won’t go into the season with only those three at running back.
True freshman Victor Venn, a 5-foot-10, 175-pounder from Buford (Ga.) High School will join the team this summer. He rushed for 3,010 yards and 36 touchdowns in his prep career, helping Buford to three consecutive state titles. As a senior, he ran for 957 yards and 10 touchdowns and received all-state honors.
With Jefferson no longer coming to CU, the Buffs now plan to bring in commit Anthony Hankerson earlier than expected. Hankerson, a 2022 graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High School, committed to CU in February, but the Buffs had planned to grayshirt him and delay his enrollment until January.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Hankerson has been rated a three-star recruit. He helped the Raiders to three consecutive Class 7A state titles, topping 1,000 rushing yards in each of those seasons. He had 1,057 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior.
Also in the backfield for the Buffs are walk-ons Charlie Offerdahl and Noah Wagner. Offerdahl had an impressive spring and coaches have said he will have a role this fall.