Deion Sanders made two things crystal clear when he arrived at Colorado: He did not like the state of the team he inherited, and he was going to be quick in changing the landscape. Through the first few months of his tenure, he has stuck by that promise, embarking on one of the most radical roster flips in college football history.
Since arriving to begin his tenure as coach of the Buffaloes in early December, 52 scholarship players have entered the transfer portal with 43 bolting since the conclusion of the spring game last month. Well over 80% of Colorado's 2022 roster is officially moving on,.
"We already know what we have coming in," Sanders said on the Pat McAfee Show. "Y'all just don't know what we have ... There is no way we can put new furniture in this beautiful home if we don't clean out the old furniture. And that is not a shot."
Even with 40-plus newcomers from both the high school and transfer ranks expected to join for the 2023 season, Sanders has room to make plenty of moves as the roster now has more than a few holes to fill.
So what happens next for "Coach Prime" and Colorado? Let's have a look at where things stand with Colorado's roster and where the Buffaloes can go from here in their unprecedented rebuilding efforts.
How many players have left Colorado?
Thanks to Buff Stampede for crunching the numbers and taking an extensive dive into Colorado's scholarship situation. Since the 2022 season began, the Buffaloes have had 73 scholarship players either transfer out of the program or end their collegiate careers. Beyond that, four players that transferred in for the spring have already decided to reenter the portal, including four-star tight end Seydou Traore.
Here's a look at Colorado's returning production, which really highlights how different this team will be in the fall.
|Category||2022 Totals||Percentage Returning|
Of course, key to all of Colorado's movement is a wave of transfers making their way towards Boulder rather than hopping on a train out. In total, Sanders added 17 transfers in the spring, still on the roster, with 17 more on their way for the summer.
Who has since joined Colorado from the portal?
Sanders brought plenty of star power with him early into his tenure, like dynamic athlete Travis Hunter and quarterback/son Shedeur Sanders, both of whom followed him from Jackson State. In fact, more than 30 newcomers were on the roster for Colorado's sold-out spring game.
But the Buffaloes have been busy with some important additions in the week-and-change since the spring game on April 23:
- Chazz Wallace, DL (Former school: Old Dominion): Wallace never worked his way into the starting lineup at Old Dominion, but he still has time to develop with two years of eligibility left.
- Amari McNeill, DL (Tennessee): McNeill signed with Tennessee in 2021 as an offensive tackle prospect before moving to the other side of the line of scrimmage. He generated some buzz with the Vols this spring before transferring, though he only had three total tackles last season.
- Derrick McLendon, EDGE (Florida State): McLendon started 12 games for the Seminoles in 2022 with five tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
- Sav'ell Smalls, EDGE (Washington): A former five-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite, Smalls never quite broke through in three years with the Huskies but will hope to do so under Sanders.
- Brendan Gant, LB (Florida State): The 200-pound Gant started out as a safety with the 'Noles before transitioning to linebacker, where he earned a role as a rotational piece.
- Jahquez Robinson, CB (Alabama): Standing at 6-foot-2, Robinson could realistically play all over the secondary for Colorado, though he was a cornerback for the Crimson Tide.
- Omarion Cooper, CB (Florida State): Cooper had spot-starting duty at cornerback in two years with Florida State, tallying three total interceptions.
- Tar'varish Dawson, WR (Auburn): Dawson initially committed to Cincinnati out of the transfer portal before flipping to Colorado. He did not play much in two seasons at Auburn, but he does bring blazing-fast speed to the Buffaloes offense.
- David Conner, OL (Florida): Conner signed with Florida in 2022 and suffered a thumb injury that caused him to miss all of his first collegiate season.
Impact players Colorado may target in portal
Crunching the numbers, including the 19-player freshman class Colorado signed in the 2023 cycle, the Buffaloes still have 19 scholarships available moving forward. Though the Buffs could use depth all over the place, there are some glaring needs that need to be addressed immediately. Here's where the Buffs may turn in the portal:
- Alton McCaskill IV, RB, Houston: Colorado is already deep in this one as the Buffaloes received a 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction to land the talented third-year player. He had 18 total touchdowns as a true freshman in 2021 but missed all of 2022 with a knee injury.
- Var'Keyes Gumms, TE, North Texas: The top tight end transfer available in 247Sports' rankings, Gumms decommitted from Arkansas Tuesday and already has an official visit set up to Cal, so there is Pac-12 interest. Losing Traore means the Buffaloes have a big void to fill at the tight end position.
- Cam'Ron Johnson, OL, Houston: Johnson, a product of Pearland (Texas) Shadow Creek High School, was at one point committed to Colorado before signing with Houston in 2019. He allowed just one sack last year while earning first-team All-AAC honors.
- Isaac Ukwu, EDGE, James Madison: Getting a guy like Jordan Domineck (7.5 sacks in 2022 with Arkansas) is a major step toward improving Colorado's pass rush, but the need still stands. The 260-pound Ukwu had 16.5 sacks over the last two seasons.
- Shon Stephens, CB, West Liberty: Stephens reported an offer from Colorado on April 26, via his Twitter. He was a Division II All-American in 2022 after logging eight interceptions, and he would give the Buffaloes the type of ball-hawking defensive back the secondary desperately needs.