From the day he was introduced, first-year Colorado coach Deion Sanders made it clear that the Buffaloes roster would undergo an extreme overhaul after the program limped to a 1-11 record in 2022. Now, is coming into focus just a few months into the job for Sanders, who arrived after three seasons at Jackson State.
Outgoing players who spoke to The Athletic following spring practice painted a picture of a coach with no qualms about exercising his ability to cut players.
"Coach Prime just told me up front, 'We have plans to go another way. You competed. You did everything we wanted you to this spring, and you fought,'" transferring safety Jeremy Mack Jr. said. "That was my first meeting with Coach Prime since I've been here."
A total of 23 Colorado players have entered the transfer portal in advance of the Sunday deadline for players who wish to be eligible immediately for next season, and more could could be on the way. That is in addition to a slew of players who departed before spring practice after Sanders made it clear he planned to bring in players who fit his eye.
"I'm not sure he knew the names of half the kids he got rid of," said outgoing offensive lineman Travis Gray. "He was worried about who he brought in. If you were on the 1-11 team, it seemed like he didn't really care about us at all. He already said he was going to get rid of 25-30 of us, and that's exactly what he did."
The tally of returning scholarship players from Colorado's 2022 roster was down to just 16 players as of Wednesday night, according to Brian Howell of the Boulder Daily Camera. In theory, that could mean the Buffaloes' allotment of 85 scholarships for 2023 will be comprised of more than 80% new players.
"None of the new coaches would talk to the old players and treat us the same as the people they brought in," outgoing tight end Zach Courtney told The Athletic. "The new guys wouldn't be picked on as much in film. Coaches would tell them to just do better, but if it was an old player, they'd keep going off on what you did wrong and keep yelling about it."
So far, Colorado has 19 incoming signees and 29 incoming transfers, according to 247Sports. With only 16 players returning, that means Sanders and the Buffaloes have ample room to add more transfers as the offseason progresses. Though April 30 is the deadline for players to enter the portal, those who are in the portal are not faced with a firm deadline for when they must commit to a new school.
Colorado opens the 2023 season at TCU on Sept. 2.