Just three weeks ago, the Colorado football team was in the national spotlight with a sold-out spring football game at Folsom Field that was broadcast on ESPN.
The event, in front of 47,277 fans, was the culmination of 15 practices over the spring period for new CU head coach Deion Sanders and his staff. But, it certainly didn’t signal a break for Sanders.
Colorado has been busy reconstructing its team, as 34 of the 98 players on the roster three weeks ago are no longer with the team. The Buffs have added 24 new scholarship players to their 2023 recruiting class in the past month, however, and more are on the way.
As of Saturday afternoon, CU had 76 players projected for scholarships this fall, leaving nine open spots.
Here’s a recap of the players who have been added this spring, all as transfers.
Tar’Varish Dawson Jr., 5-foot-11, 165 pounds, So. (Auburn): A four-star recruit out of high school, Dawson redshirted in 2021 and appeared in one game that season. He played in four games last season, with two starts, catching two passes for 30 yards. He’s been clocked at 10.58 seconds in the 100-meter dash.
Jaylen Ellis, 6-3, 184, Jr. (Baylor): In four seasons at Baylor, he battled some injuries and played in 16 games, one as a starter. He caught six passes for 198 yards and a touchdown during his time with the Bears. Last season, Ellis caught three passes for 154 yards.
Willie Gaines, 5-9, 170, Jr. (Jackson State): The seventh transfer to follow Sanders from JSU, Gaines caught 27 passes for 446 yards and five touchdowns last year. His 16.52 yards per catch average led the Tigers.
EJ Horton, 6-0, 180, Jr. (Marshall): During his three seasons at Marshall, he caught only 16 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns, but most of that production came late in the 2022 season. Has been clocked at 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash and ran a 6.95-second 60-meter dash for the Marshall track team this spring.
Jack Bailey, 6-3, 285, Jr. (Kent State): Has started each of Kent State’s last 18 games, including all 12 last season, at guard. He didn’t allow any sacks last season. Bailey will be reunited with his former offensive line coach (Bill O’Boyle) and head coach (Sean Lewis, now CU’s offensive coordinator).
David Conner, 6-5, 295, Fr. (Florida): A three-star prospect coming out of Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School a year ago, Conner did not appear in any games as a true freshman last season with the Gators.
Kareem Harden, 6-4, 315, So. (Butler C.C): Last season, Harden played in eight games at Butler and earned All-Jayhawk Conference honorable mention honors. He had several scholarship offers this spring, including from Illinois and South Florida.
Reggie Young, 6-4, 270, Sr. (Liberty): Played in nine games last season, all as a reserve at Liberty. Signed with Northwestern State out of high school in 2018 and was an NJCAA second-team All-American at Iowa Central Community College in 2021.
Zach Blackwood, 6-4, 285, So. (Garden City C.C.): Compiled 42 tackles, six tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks for the Broncbusters last year. He redshirted and did not appear in any games at Northern Arizona as a true freshman in 2021.
Amari McNeill, 6-4, 285, So. (Tennessee): After playing one game and redshirting in 2021, McNeill played in six games for the Volunteers last year, recorded three tackles and a pass breakup as a reserve.
Bishop Thomas, 6-2, 290, Fr. (Florida State): A four-star recruit coming out of high school a year ago, he played in two games for the Seminoles last year, which allowed him to redshirt. He was named Florida State’s defensive scout team player of the year.
Chazz Wallace, 6-2, 295, Jr. (Old Dominion): Spent three years at ODU, including the 2020 season when the Monarchs opted out due to COVID-19. Wallace played 23 games during his time at ODU, recording 45 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
Deeve Harris, 6-3, 233, Jr. (Old Dominion): Played in one game in two seasons at Minnesota before transferring to ODU in 2021. At ODU, Harris played in 23 games, posting 56 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. He also returned two interceptions and a fumble for touchdowns.
JJ Hawkins, 6-2, 265, So. (Mississippi): A three-star recruit out of high school, he redshirted in 2021 and played in four games last season for the Rebels. He recorded a sack in a victory against Georgia Tech.
Chance Main, 6-4, 270, Sr. (Colorado): Technically, he’s a returning player, but he hasn’t been with the program all offseason as he fought to gain a medical hardship waiver and earn one last year of eligibility. Last year at CU, he had 28 tackles and two tackles for loss in 12 games. Has also played for Independence Community College and Incarnate Word during his career.
Derrick McLendon II, 6-4, 245, Jr. (Florida State): In four years at FSU, McLendon played in 38 games, recording 61 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Last season, he played in 13 games (12 starts) and had 37 tackles, five TFLs and 3.5 sacks.
Sav’ell Smalls, 6-3, 259, Jr. (Washington): A five-star recruit coming out of high school in 2020, Smalls never missed a game at Washington, playing in each of the Huskies’ 29 contests since he arrived in 2020. He recorded 32 tackles and one tackle for loss, playing primarily in a backup role.
Arden Walker, 6-2, 252, So. (Missouri): A former Cherry Creek High School star, he played in 16 games at Missouri, getting his first starts in the Tigers’ last two games last year, including the Gasparilla Bowl. Last season, he had four tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
Brendan Gant, 6-2, 200, Sr. (Florida State): He played 43 games for the Seminoles, with six starts. In his four seasons at FSU, he had 112 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one interception. He recorded 33 tackles and 1.5 TFLs last season.
Omarion Cooper, 6-0, 188, Jr. (Florida State): Appeared in 20 games, with seven starts, during his two seasons at FSU. Last year, he played in 12 games, starting four. He had 14 tackles, one interception and a forced fumble. A four-star recruit out of high school, he was FSU’s Devaughn Darling defensive freshman of the year in 2021.
Travis Jay, 6-2, 198, Jr. (Florida State): He spent the past four seasons at FSU, playing in 16 games with three starts. He recorded 43 tackles and three interceptions. He had 26 tackles and an interception in 2020, while also returning kickoffs. He had 17 tackles and two interceptions in 2021 and worked with the Seminoles’ scout team last year.
Jahquez Robinson, 6-2, 199, So. (Alabama): A four-star recruit out of high school, Robinson was mainly a special teams contributor during his three seasons at Alabama. He played in eight games, recording two tackles, one tackle for loss and a sack.
Vito Tisdale, 6-1, 176, So. (Kentucky): He recorded 39 tackles, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup in 19 games played during his time with the Wildcats. He missed the entire 2022 season with a knee injury and was dismissed from Kentucky’s team in March for a violation of team rules.
Rodrick Ward, 5-11, 180, Sr. (Southern Utah): Recorded 52 tackles, four interceptions and 11 pass breakups last season for the Thunderbirds, earning second-team All-WAC honors. Ward began his career at Mt. San Jacinto College in 2018 before transferring to SUU in 2019.