Colorado football fans might still be getting accustomed to the wonders of once again being in the spotlight.
It still causes a moment’s pause to see your coach, long a fixture in the limelight, representing the Buffaloes during national football broadcasts. Or beckoning the best of the best to Boulder via social media. Or even having the heartstrings toyed with while looking in on the first meeting between Coach Prime and beloved superfan Peggy Coppom.
All of the above and more have contributed to a surreal makeover that has changed Colorado from a dormant afterthought to one of the most exciting stories in college football, all without actually playing a game. That’s quite a feat, even for Deion Sanders.
Yet it was this past week that Sanders finally brought a touch of that hoopla home, while at the same time serving notice yet again it no longer is business as usual with Buffaloes football. From his arrival to the signing day press conference on Wednesday via bicycle to the expected and refreshing candor to the call he had to take before getting down to the task at hand, Sanders stoked the “We comin’” vibe by securing the sort of recruiting class that not long ago would’ve felt like a fantasy in Boulder.
(I don’t immediately recall seeing the subject of a huge press conference taking a call first in almost 25 years of doing this. But I get it. The guy’s busy.)
Not that there hasn’t been substantial substance to go with Sanders’ unique style throughout his career, but the signing day haul, and the signees already in tow since Sanders arrived two months ago, offered tangible evidence the football portion of the Coach Prime era is well on its way.
Whittled down to its most basic core, college football is little more than a talent arms race. And the Buffs no longer are going into increasingly high-tech battles armed with mere clubs.
In Cormani McClain, the Buffs landed the top cornerback in the 2023 class and the first five-star recruit to sign with Colorado out of high school since 2008. Better yet for Buffs’ fans, the Buffs now have two such athletes ready to step in immediately as Travis Hunter, the top corner in last year’s recruiting class and another five-star prospect, has followed Sanders to Boulder from Jackson State.
The Buffs’ recruiting class, most of which signed in December, is ranked 21st nationally. That’s the program’s highest ranking since 2008. The transfer class, which ultimately holds the key to Sanders’ vision of a quick turnaround in Boulder, is ranked fifth.
The talent gap CU routinely, and unsuccessfully, attempted to close in recent seasons had grown to chasm-like proportions. The Buffs were on the wrong end of scores like 49-10, 55-17, 54-7 and 63-21 (among other lopsided results), all of which served as harsh reminders of just how far the Buffs had fallen behind the Pac-12’s elite, let alone the nation’s elite.
Sanders has bridged that talent gap in just two months. Molding a cohesive team is the next challenge, one that begins when the most anticipated spring practice in decades kicks off on March 19. Yet the depths of that talent overhaul, particularly in such a short amount of time, has been astounding.
“We have a commitment to excellence and it’s working and we’re winning. We’re ecstatic about the potential,” Sanders said during his signing day press conference, reminding those long-starved Buffs fans, “we’re just getting started.”