Written by Grace Raynor, Manny Navarro, and David Oppen
Ryan Staub visited Colorado Three times before Deon Sanders took over as head coach.
Outside of the shiny new red McLaren parked at Folsom Field, everything else on campus looked pretty much the same as Stoop a couple of weeks ago.
said Stoop, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound three-star quarterback from Stephenson Ranch, Calif. Stoop committed to Colorado this past January and was one of seven suspended recruits From the Karl Dorrell staff who signed on with the program on Wednesday.
“It definitely looked exactly the same,” he said, “but didn’t feel quite the same.” “There’s a new energy and a new message in town. That’s obviously Coach Prime and what he’s bringing to the whole world. What he’s going to do here, he’s going to make change. And he’s going to win.”
Sanders, who juts out like a $400,000 sports car on a football field, has a long way to go in trying to turn around Colorado’s troubled football program.
– Ryan Staub (@_ryanstaub) December 13, 2022
The Buffaloes were 1-11 in 2022 and 63rd nationally in the 247 Sports Team Talent Composite — just four places better than Sanders’ previous team, Jackson State.
recruiting class Sanders signed Wednesday 14 high school recruits and 10 transfers participated. Only five of the 24 signatories are frontrunners who graduated from high school, but it’s only been two weeks since Sanders was hired. Late Wednesday night, Travis Hunter, the No. 1 player in the class of 2022, announced the Jackson State cornerback The decision to move to Coloradoand many of his former JSU teammates should soon join him in the Rockies.
Colorado’s recruiting class is currently ranked No. 53 nationally, but its overall ranking — which includes transfers — is No. 29. The Buffs’ overall ranking was No. 58 in 2022 and No. 65 in 2021.
So, what was it like for the first batch of recruits attracted by Coach Prime Colorado?
“Really, we were kind of getting to know each other,” said Staub, who spent about 20 minutes with Sanders during his state visit over the weekend. “It basically got to the point where Coach Prime told me, ‘Get on Twitter and start recruiting your future teammates. “That’s what I was trying to do.”
Since Sanders’ December 3 hiring, the Buffaloes have hosted two recruiting weekends: one from December 9-11 and one from December 16-18 before the Monday death period begins.
Sanders was back and forth from Mississippi to Colorado as he split time with the Jackson State team prior to the Tigers’ Celebration Bowl appearance. But after the game ended on Saturday afternoon, Sanders was back in Boulder, picking up the last 90 minutes of a three-hour dinner at the team’s Colorado facility, complete with macaroni and cheese, green beans, blackened shrimp, fried chicken, and dinner rolls. According to three-star cornerback Carter Stautmeyer. A DJ was on hand, prompting a few of the more social recruits to start dancing.
But despite Coach Prime’s flashy personality, Saturday night felt more like a “cookout” than a “party,” said the former Western Michigan defensive end. Marshawn Neyland, who is now considering Colorado as a transportation destination. With the exception of the luxurious McLarens and Aston Martins in the field for the long-awaited photo shoot, there was a relaxed atmosphere to the visit.
– Marshawn Neyland (@MarshawnKneela1) December 18, 2022
Even Sanders’ entry was an understatement.
“(He) just walked in,” said Kneeland. “Don’t get me wrong: There are cameras on him at all times.[But]he just walked in: ‘What’s up?’ I didn’t feel like a head coach, if that makes any sense. I felt like a father or an uncle. You know what I mean? It wasn’t like, “Oh, I must be pressured not to say something wrong.” She’s like, “These are my people.”
Kneeland, who has since visited UCLA, said he spent about 30 minutes with Sanders in his office while Sanders made his rounds with recruits. When the two sat down, Sanders had a series of cards containing Kneeland’s information, including his stats.
“The first thing he said was, ‘I need you.'” And then, it was like, I don’t know what anyone else could say to make you feel more at home, to make you feel wanted,” said Kneeland. “It’s definitely a feeling that can’t be encountered anywhere else.”
Kneeland said he felt Sanders was more humble now than he was as a player when he was making his name running up and down the court. It can be hard to explain his personality, though, other than “You just have to see it.”
“His personality is just different from most coaches. I can’t say all (the coaches) because I haven’t met all of them,” said Kneeland. “It’s like talking when he talks, I want to say how everyone looks at how Jay Z talks in the rap industry. He knows what he’s talking about. He knows what he’s doing. He’s been there, done that. He was the greatest. So it’s like, he has That extra pizza, if you will.”
In fact, Sanders’ resume seems to strike a chord with recruiters who say there’s just something different about the playing potential of the only active college football coach who is in the Hall of Fame as a player.
Statmer, whose father, Omar, played for Sanders and Colorado coach Kevin Mathis for the Dallas Cowboys in 1997, said his future coach — once the best in Florida — has a unique ability to connect with current recruits.
Three-star wide-scoring Asad Waseem might sum it up best: “He’s a premier coach. He played under a legendary coach in Bobby Bowden. He has a Gold Jacket, College Football Hall of Fame. It’s a whole different thing when you know you’re going to play from For someone who did it, you got where you want to go.”
Sanders may not have spent a lot of time with the newest group of visitors, but the rest of the Buffaloes staff has made sure the recruits have an unforgettable experience.
He and his fellow recruits arrived around 3 p.m. on Friday, said Statmer, who played for Prestonwood (Texas) Christian. Stotemeyer and his family first walked around campus to view the mountains. Then it’s back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at the local Italian restaurant, Pasta Jay’s.
Saturday bring a tour of the facility, take a picture with the luxury cars and have lunch at the facility. Since it took about an hour and a half to take the photo, Colorado divided the recruits into two groups so that one could tour the campus while the other took pictures.
Stoutmire said he’d never seen a McLaren before, let alone sit inside one, and wasn’t sure if the Buffaloes had acquired the cars through help from boosters or a local dealer. Regardless, it was a nice touch. “I mean, the athletes care a lot about the cars. The athletes are all about style,” he said. “So I’d say it helps a lot to get the athletes out there because they know the program has money and (that the school) is going to be able to help them get to the next level.”
Kneeland added, “The pictures definitely came out great, which is great. I know I only posted a couple of them, but there were a lot.”
On Saturday afternoon, both groups went to the Colorado football cafeteria for lunch, where many televisions were tuned in to the Jackson State game while Stoutmire feasted on lemon pepper wings, roast chicken, brisket and cornbread. Every time Jackson State scored a goal or made a big play, cheers broke out in the room.
By Saturday night, Sanders was in town making his rounds. That’s when Deuce Roberson, a native of Colorado Springs and a transfer from Snow College (Utah), told the coaches he was ready to commit. Roberson had a casual visit with Snow College teammate Isaiah Gata, a three-star offensive tackle who ranked No. 19 in the 247Sports Composite.
Jatta, who had already used all five of his official visits and thus also visited informally, stayed with Roberson as the two shuttled back and forth to campus. He also committed and signed Wed.
For all the flash Sanders brings to Colorado football, the recruiting process felt rather low-key, according to several recruits. Kneeland said he even took an Uber from the airport to school after he landed in Denver, about 30 miles from Boulder. That’s not to say Colorado didn’t wow.
“I would say that a lot of us were actually a little stunned with admiration, how nice everything was, because we had an idea of what I was expecting, but it was honestly more than I could have expected,” Statmer said. “All I saw there – just the campus and stuff and how nice everything was.”
And of course Sander’s character came out in full force.
“Dion is a very classy guy,” Cal said with a tight end to Champion Johnson, who is committed to his younger brother Victory Johnson. “Everyone loves talking to him. I don’t think I’ve seen him not smile yet. Honestly, I like to match people’s energy, and his energy was an energy I really enjoyed matching.”
Sanders indeed Four Stars flipped running back Dylan Edwards Thanks to their long-running relationship, which gave him a Top 200 National opportunity at the running back position. His quarterback position is in great shape, too, with the arrival of his son Shadir from Jackson State. There’s also Staub, who committed Colorado more SMU.
Now is the time for Sanders to turn his attention to the February signing period, which gives him more time to forge relationships with high school coaches and unsigned prospects. On Wednesday, 247Sports reported that five-star Cormani McClain, the No. 2 player in the nation is coming out of Lakeland (Fla.) High, He was in touch with Sanders and Colorado.
Carter Whitson, who coached Colorado signing Taji McCoy at Putnam City (Okla) High, believes Sanders will make a quick turnaround and get “more than people think he can bargain for” from his players. He commended Sanders for hiring a quality staff that would take care of the X and O devices so that Sanders could play the role of CEO.
“Name someone who has done it better on social media. And what are these kids doing?” Whitson said. “If I asked my crown,[if]I would say, ‘Hey, have you seen any Deion Sanders movies? His answer would be, “Yeah, I saw it on TikTok.” It wouldn’t be, “Oh yeah, we saw his highlights on SportsCenter, we watched him over and over again.” That’s what Gilly would say.
“These guys, I think they’re going to do it right. They’re going to do it quickly. And we’ll see what happens next.”
(Photo: Ron Chinoy/USA Today)
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