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As transfer portal opens, Deion Sanders begins process of rebuilding CU Buffs roster

BOULDER,CO:December 4:Deion Sanders is introduced as the new football coach at the University of Colorado Boulder at a press conference in Boulder on December 4, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER,CO:December 4:Deion Sanders is introduced as the new football coach at the University of Colorado Boulder at a press conference in Boulder on December 4, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

When Deion Sanders agreed to become the next head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, he inherited a roster of players that won just one game this season.

That’s not the roster of players he intends to take into 2023, however.

In meeting with the team on Sunday, Sanders was blunt in telling them changes are coming.

“I’m not gonna lie, everybody that’s sitting in front in the seats ain’t gonna have a seat when we get back,” Sanders told the team.

Sanders was introduced as the head coach of the Buffs (1-11, 1-8 Pac-12) on Sunday, but will be finishing his season at Jackson State before focusing full-time on CU. Jackson State (12-0) plays North Carolina Central (9-2) in the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta on Dec. 17.

In addressing the players, Sanders was firm in telling them change is on the way.

“It’s going to be a different place, a different feel, a different attitude, a different energy, a different work ethic, a different want, a different hunger, a different desire, a different need, a different capacity,” he said. “It’s gonna be a different reach. I’m coming. There’s not going to be any more mediocrity, period.

“It ain’t gonna be no more of the mess that these wonderful fans, the student body and some of your parents have put up with for probably two decades now. I’m coming, and when I get here, it’s gonna be change. So, I want you all to get ready to go ahead and jump in the (transfer) portal and do whatever you’re gonna get, because the more of you jump in, the room you make. We’re bringing kids that are smart, tough, fast, disciplined with character. That’s the ones we’re gonna get. Is that you?”

During his introductory press conference, Sanders had his son, Shedeur, stand up and he said, “This is your quarterback.” Shedeur Sanders, a sophomore, has been Jackson State’s starter the past two years and is a finalist for the Walton Payton Award, which goes to the top player in the FCS.

When Sanders addressed the team, he told them, “Yeah, a quarterback is coming. Yep, about 10 more of them are coming, and they’re dawgs and they’re gonna hunt and they’re gonna eat.

“We’ve got a few positions already taken care of because I’m bringing my luggage with me.”

Sanders has another son, Shilo, who is a redshirt sophomore safety at Jackson State. On Sunday night, Jackson State freshman cornerback Travis Hunter, the No. 1 recruit in the country for the class of 2022, hinted that he could be coming to Boulder, as well.

Another transfer who could be on his way to Boulder is receiver Jimmy Horn, from South Florida. Out of high school, Horn originally committed to Jackson State to play for Sanders, but switched to South Florida. He caught 37 passes for 551 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 14.9 yards per catch for the Bulls this season.

On Sunday, Horn listed CU among his final four choices, along with Houston, Penn State and Texas A&M.

The 45-day transfer portal window for FBS players opened on Monday, with a flurry of action as players from around the country officially went into the portal.

CU backup offensive lineman Noah Fenske announced Monday that he will put his name into the transfer portal. He joins a list of transferring Buffs that includes true freshman quarterback Owen McCown; redshirt freshman receiver Chase Penry; fifth-year junior guard Casey Roddick; and sixth-year senior safety Isaiah Lewis.

Senior receiver Maurice Bell also announced intentions to transfer last week, but announced Sunday he has decided to withdraw his name from the portal.

Sanders, who has gone 27-5 in three seasons at Jackson State, isn’t looking for a slow rebuild. The Buffs’ roster is likely to look dramatically different next season than it does today, and that would include many more Buffs leaving, either by their choice or Sanders’ choice.

One player asked Sanders what the Buffs’ offseason would look like.

“It’s going to be a lot of work,” Sanders said. “How should I say this? We’re gonna try to make you quit. Those of you we don’t run off, we’re gonna try to make you quit. That’s what the offseason is gonna look like. I want the ones that don’t want to quit, that want to be here, that want to work, that want to win, that want to be appreciative of every darn thing they’ve given you here. That’s what it’s gonna look like. Heck of a lot of work.

“I’ve got to get you to the breaking point so I know what I got. I don’t want to get in a game and then find out I’ve got Jane when all offseason I had Tarzan. I’ve got to figure that one out and I’m gonna get you there.”