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Long relationship with Deion Sanders led Dylan Edwards to CU Buffs

Colorado running back Dylan Edwards during a visit to the Boulder campus in December of 2022. (University of Colorado athletics)
Colorado running back Dylan Edwards during a visit to the Boulder campus in December of 2022. (University of Colorado athletics)

When Deion Sanders got into coaching years ago, he did it in large part to work with his sons. But, he also enjoys mentoring youth.

Now that he’s the head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes, Sanders admitted Wednesday he’s still learning the names of all the players he’s now working with, including the 42 scholarship players he’s recruited in the past six weeks.

There is one new Buff, however, that Sanders has known since his early days of coaching in the Truth youth program in Texas. Running back Dylan Edwards is a four-star prospect and one of the top players in CU’s 2023 class and he played in the Truth organization years ago.

“It made it special (to sign Edwards) because I had a tremendous relationship with his parents,” Sanders said.

CU linebackers coach Andre’ Hart and cornerbacks coach Kevin Mathis also worked with Edwards in the Truth organization.

“We’ve coached that kid since he was, I think, 5 or 6 years old, and his sibling,” Sanders said. “It’s a special bond, special tie with the family.”

Edwards, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound speedster from Derby (Kan.) High School, is rated by 247Sports as the 12th-best running back in the country in the 2023 class and he had 36 scholarship offers.

Edwards committed to Kansas State in June, but after receiving a scholarship offer from Notre Dame, he committed to the Irish in August. He was slated to sign with Notre Dame until Sanders was hired by CU on Dec. 3. A week later, he flipped to the Buffs, signed his letter of intent on Dec. 21 and enrolled last month.

“We have the utmost respect for (the Edwards family) that they would feel like we’re capable of really helping them mature that young man into a full grown man and help him accomplish his dreams and visions, and the things that he desired in life,” Sanders said. “So just knowing them and they know how we run a program, they know who we are, because we’ve been doing it consistently ever since he was a kid. That’s special. Dylan is a special kid.”

Edwards will still have to earn his playing time, though.

Last season, he was the Kansas Gatorade player of the year, rushing for 2,603 yards and 36 touchdowns. He then turned some heads at the Under Armour All-American game on Jan. 3.

What Edwards hasn’t done, however, is prove himself at CU.

“I’ve got to see him on the field,” Sanders said. “I’ve seen him in high school. I gotta see him now. I expect some wonderful things. I do know he’s a competitor. I do know what I’ve seen him accomplish in the Under Armour All-American game; it was tremendous. And his practice tape leading up to that was tremendous.

“We got to see him compete. Once we see him compete, then we can assess the talent and figure out how to best use him to make sure he’s successful. That’s on us. That’s on our (offensive coordinator), that’s on the running back coach, receivers coach and Dylan is a little hybrid. He does quite a bit. He’s explosive and we like those explosive players that can change the game quickly.”

The battle at running back could be one of the most intriguing battles this offseason.

In addition to Edwards, CU is bringing in former Kentucky back Kavosiey Smoke, a graduate transfer with one year to play. Smoke won’t officially be a Buff until he enrolls in the summer, but he’s slated to join the team after rushing for 1,583 yards and 12 touchdowns during his career with the Wildcats.

CU also returns five of its top six running backs from last year. Senior Deion Smith led the team with 393 yards, sophomore Anthony Hankerson had some stellar moments in rushing for 274 yards and junior Jayle Stacks was productive when given a chance to carry the ball (114 yards). Walk-on Charlie Offerdahl had 150 yards and freshman Victor Venn is joining the mix after redshirting last season.