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With spring game over, Deion Sanders continues roster build for CU Buffs

Colorado expected to be active in transfer portal as 2023 roster takes shape

BOULDER, CO: April 22: Coach Deion Sanders talks to Dylan Edwards about catching the ball on punt returns during the University of Colorado Spring football game on April 22, 2023. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
BOULDER, CO: April 22: Coach Deion Sanders talks to Dylan Edwards about catching the ball on punt returns during the University of Colorado Spring football game on April 22, 2023. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

The festive atmosphere at Folsom Field on Saturday afternoon was unlike anything Colorado fans have experienced before in the offseason.

CU’s annual spring game was the culmination of head coach Deion Sanders’ first spring with the Buffaloes and put his transformational first five months on the job in the spotlight.

It was, however, just a stepping stone in the Coach Prime era.

“This is the genesis of the new era, the new thing,” Sanders said following the Buffs’ spring game. “This was the genesis. This was the beginning of everything to the direction that we go right now.”

CU’s spring roster included 34 newcomers – 26 of them being transfers – which is a lot, but many more players are on the way. There are 17 committed or signed high school recruits and transfers that will arrive in the summer and they won’t be alone.

The Buffs had 13 players, all of them recruited by previous coaching staffs, leave the team for the transfer portal within a week of the spring game. There will be several who participated Saturday who will be moving on soon, as well.

“I didn’t kick them out, they walked out,” Sanders said of the players who left before the spring game. “We’ve got to make some decisions. That’s gonna be on me now. That was on them, now it’s on me.

“Anytime someone quits a few days before the spring game, that should tell you a lot. God bless them, though. The thing about it, I have no disdain. If they called me to speak on their behalf for a coach (of another team), I would do so. I’m not going to lie, but I will do so. So, God bless them. We don’t look behind us, man. We look ahead.”

On Saturday, former Kentucky safety Vito Tisdale announced his commitment to the Buffs. Receivers Montana Lemonious-Craig, a spring game star, and Chase Sowell announced Sunday that they are leaving the Buffs. That gives CU 84 projected scholarship players for next fall, one below the NCAA maximum. The Buffs still want to add several more transfers.

In fact, CU needs to add more because it currently has just four defensive linemen and there is almost no experience behind starting quarterback Shedeur Sanders.

The immediate focus will be on transfers to build this year’s team, but there’s always an eye to the future. More than 70 recruits attended the Buffs’ spring game.

“You gotta understand a lot of coaches attack it differently,” coach Sanders said of his recruiting approach. “Oftentimes, the kid is holding all the cards, and you’re trying to see if he’s gonna choose you. We’re trying to see if we really want him because it’s a certain standard that we have. When I talk about being smart, tough, and disciplined with character, I’m not playing. I’m serious about that. So we’re recruiting one another.

“I have several questions, poignant questions that I ask every last one of (the recruits) and I want to know those responses. … I have a certain approach, and I don’t fluctuate from that. And I want what I want and I’m gonna get what I want. I’m not compromising my thoughts in any of that. I’m gonna stand for what I believe and we’re gonna get ’em.”

Throughout his first five months on the job, Sanders has laid the foundation of his expectations with the players currently on board. His staff echoes the message, too, so the standard has been set.

“They understand what my faith is, they understand where I stand, and I don’t fluctuate from that,” he said. “They understand that I’m no-nonsense and I’m not dealing with the foolishness and stupidity and ignorance in adolescence. I’m not doing that. You want to be treated like a man, act like a darn man.”

With the spring game now in the review mirror, Sanders and his staff will be busy recruiting a new set of players, either through the transfer portal or the high school ranks, who are willing to buy into his standard.

“I was the kid that was recruited, I was the parent sitting by the kid when my sons were recruited, and now I’m the coach recruiting the kid and talking to the parent and telling them the God-honest truth with no game,” he said. “No game whatsoever. Straight up.”