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Signing day notes: CU Buffs make major impact in transfer portal

Clemson linebacker LaVonta Bentley (42) plays against North Carolina State during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
Clemson linebacker LaVonta Bentley (42) plays against North Carolina State during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders was hoping to make a major impact in the transfer portal this offseason.

Mission accomplished, but he’s not done yet.

On Wednesday, the opening of the early signing period, CU signed eight transfers from four-year schools – including the No. 1-rated transfer in the country – and two junior college transfers.

Jackson State stars Travis Hunter and Shedeur Sanders headline CU’s transfer class, as both announced their decisions on Wednesday. Hunter is rated as the No. 1 transfer in this year’s class and the first five-star recruit to sign with CU since Darrell Scott in 2008.

CU’s transfer class ranks No. 7 nationally by, which only includes the players from four-year institutions in the rankings. A year ago, CU’s transfer class, which included guard Tommy Brown and linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo, ranked 79th nationally.

The Buffs are off to a great start in the portal, but they are hardly done.

Sanders has said he will rely heavily on transfers, including bringing players that he coached at Jackson State. Ten or more of his Jackson State players could be coming to Boulder, but so far only three have signed financial aid agreements with the Buffs.

While more transfers are coming, the group signed Wednesday is already impressive.

Hunter was the top-rated prep recruit in the 2022 class and had a stellar season for Jackson State, playing cornerback and receiver for the Tigers.

Shedeur Sanders, a two-year starter at Jackson State, is slated to be the Buffs’ starting quarterback.

The transfer group also includes five veteran and accomplished offensive linemen.

• Landon Bebee made 35 starts at Missouri State and earned All-Missouri Valley Conference second-team honors the last three seasons.

• Tyler Brown started all 13 games at Jackson State, playing left guard, and was a third-team FCS All-American this season.

• Isaiah Jatta was a junior college All-American at Snow College, where he played left tackle.

• Savion Washington started this season at right tackle at Kent State, playing for new Buffs’ line coach Bill O’Boyle and offensive coordinator Sean Lewis.

• Jack Wilty played eight games at left tackle at Iowa Central Community College, earning first-team all-conference honors.

CU also got three transfers – aside from Hunter – that could help right away on defense.

Taijh Alston recorded 56 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks in his time at West Virginia. LaVonta Bentley was a backup linebacker at Clemson, but was highly productive in his playing time, racking up 73 tackles, 11.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks in only 417 career snaps. And Shane Cokes was a two-time All-Ivy League second-term performer as a defensive lineman at Dartmouth, picking up 87 tackles, 14 TFLs and 8.5 sacks in his 22 games.

While high school recruits sign binding national letters of intent, transfers sign financial aid agreements. Those are not binding, however, until the player enrolls in school.

In-state recruit

Of the 24 players signed Wednesday by the Buffs, only one is from Colorado.

Cherry Creek offensive lineman Hank Zalinskas committed to CU and former head coach Karl Dorrell in July and Sanders honored that commitment.

A two-way star at Cherry Creek, Zalinskas is slated to play offensive line at CU. He earned first-team all-state honors the last two years.

Zalinskas ranks as the 14th-best player from the state, per Although he’s the only in-state signee, he may not be the only one in the end.

The top recruit in the state is Cherry Creek edge rusher Blake Purchase, who is committed to Oregon. Purchase did not sign Wednesday, however, and according to 247Sports is being pursued by CU.


When Deion Sanders was hired as head coach on Dec. 3, CU had 20 players verbally committed. Only six of those wound up signing with the Buffs: Zalinskas, receivers Isaiah Hardge and Jordan Onovughe, linebackers Victory Johnson and Morgan Pearson, and quarterback Ryan Staub. … Cornerback Jordan Shaw (Downey, Calif.) committed to CU in November and was re-offered by Sanders’ staff but chose to sign with Indiana on Wednesday instead. … Three-star quarterback Kasen Weisman (Douglasville, Ga.) committed to Kansas in August, but de-committed on Wednesday. He has not signed anywhere, but visited CU last weekend and is now projected to join the Buffs. … CU had hoped to flip four-star athletes Malachi Coleman and Vicari Swain. Both took visits to Boulder last weekend but Coleman signed with Nebraska and Swain with South Carolina.