For the last several weeks, Colorado’s Brendon Lewis had contemplated his future in college football.
On Tuesday, the Buffaloes’ former starting quarterback officially announced his time in Boulder is coming to an end. Lewis, a third-year sophomore, put his name in the NCAA transfer portal and will not finish the season with the Buffs (1-5, 1-2 Pac-12), who visit Oregon State (5-2, 2-2) on Saturday (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
“This isn’t a surprise,” interim head coach Mike Sanford said. “We’ve had ongoing conversations … throughout the course of the last, really three, four or five weeks.”
Lewis was the opening day starter on Sept. 2 against TCU, but had slipped to third on the depth chart in recent weeks.
“First off, I’d like to begin by thanking God for giving me the opportunity to play football at this level,” Lewis wrote on social media. “I’m grateful to the University of Colorado, my teammates, coaches, and Buff Nation for all my support over the past years.
“Over the various changes I’ve encountered throughout my three years at CU, I’ve decided I need to explore my other options and see who can best prepare me for my future. In order to do so, I have decided to enter the transfer portal.”
A third-year sophomore from Melissa, Texas, Lewis completed 170-of-291 passes (58.4%) for 1,727 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions in his career with the Buffs, while adding 304 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He finishes his CU career with 156 consecutive passes without an interception – the second-longest streak in Buffs’ history.
Lewis made his CU debut in the 2020 Alamo Bowl, coming off the bench in the Buffs’ 55-23 loss to Texas. He completed 6-of-10 passes for 95 yards and ran for 73 yards and a touchdown in that game.
The dual threat ability he showed in the Texas game sparked high hopes for his future. He started all 12 games in 2021 and limited turnovers, but struggled throughout the season, as CU averaged only 18.8 points per game.
This year, he won the starting job in preseason camp, but couldn’t get the offense rolling in a 38-13 loss to TCU. He completed 13-of-18 passes for 78 yards and added 42 rushing yards before being relieved by JT Shrout.
Lewis didn’t play the next week as Shrout got the start at Air Force. In Week 3, Shrout and Lewis rotated series, and Lewis completed 2-of-6 passes for 14 yards in the 49-7 loss to Minnesota. Freshman Owen McCown has started the last three games, while Lewis has not played.
Sanford said there was never discussion about Lewis playing another position because Lewis has passion for playing quarterback. Lewis will now look for another place to play quarterback.
“At the end of the day, I think B-Lew needed a fresh start,” Sanford said. “Certainly there are times in every player’s career, every coach’s career, and obviously even in a program’s history where you need a fresh start. I wish him, without question, the best. I’m in his corner and always will be and have a tremendous relationship with B-Lew and our team wishes him well.”
Lewis has three seasons of eligibility remaining.
Search firm hired
Colorado has retained the search firm of Eastman & Beaudine to help with the process of hiring a full-time head football coach. According to a BuffZone source, CU has had a “high level of interest” in the job, leading to the decision to hire a search firm.
CU fired head coach Karl Dorrell on Oct. 2, with Sanford taking over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Athletic director Rick George employed Eastman & Beaudine in 2018 and the firm helped CU in the process that brought Mel Tucker to Boulder as head football coach that winter.
Smith still progressing
Running back Deion Smith, who was carted off the field on a stretcher in Saturday’s win against California, continues to progress toward a return.
“We continue to get positive news on Deion Smith, all leading towards a very likely return,” Sanford said. “Obviously, we’ll see when that is but very, very different news and more positive news than even I expected after the game.”
Prepping for rain
There is rain in the forecast for Saturday in Corvallis, Ore., so the Buffs are doing some wet ball drills. Sanford was seen spraying the ball with a water bottle before offensive snaps on Tuesday. CU struggled on a rainy day at Air Force on Sept. 10, losing 41-10.
“I do think that experience helps because it’s not a shock to you,” Sanford said. “But really the Pac-12, with the four Northwest schools, you’re pretty much anticipating you’re gonna play one or two rain games a year.
“We didn’t handle the elements particularly well (at Air Force). I think we started slowly as a result of the elements. We’re not gonna allow that to happen. … We’re going to prepare for those elements and then we’re going to see what the weather is at that point in time and make the adjustments we need to.”