Colorado first-year coach Deion Sanders was hired to bring visibility back to the once-proud program, and he succeeded on National Signing Day 2023 when he finalized a star-studded recruiting class. That class, made up of 19 high school recruits and 24 transfer players, ranks 21st in the country overall and No. 5 among transfer classes. It's Colorado's best class since 2008 when it finished 15th overall and signed the nation's No. 4 player (running back Darrell Scott).
Sanders wasn't surprised with the surge of energy that materialized on signing day. Fans shouldn't be, either. After all, this was the primary reason Sanders was brought to Boulder.
"How would we be surprised about success? That means we really didn't expect success if we are surprised about success," Sanders said. "We expect success. We expect to go get that kid. You see how I got back and was on the phone? The only thing that can keep that kid from coming and signing with us is a bag"
The class got a huge bump on Wednesday when Cormani McClain, a five-star cornerback and the No. 13 overall player in the nation, inked his National Letter of Intent. His decision came two months after cornerback Travis Hunter, the No. 1 recruit from the Class of 2022, followed Sanders from Jackson State. The addition of those two stud athletes might open a new door to the caliber of recruit Colorado wants to get under "Coach Prime," and beefing up the defensive talent was a must after the Buffs ranked dead last nationally with 44.5 points per game allowed.
"You need elite corners and elite pass rushers from anywhere," said Sanders . "A lot of coaches build inside-out. I build both ways. I build outside-in when I'm thinking defensively."
Sanders stated that he can build a program from "the outside-in," but one of the most high-profile linebackers in the country is also headed his way. Former four-star linebacker Demouy Kennedy -- the No. 35 overall player in the Class of 2020 -- also joined the Buffaloes.
Colorado's 2023 class isn't just Hunter, McClain and everybody else, however. Four-star running back Dylan Edwards and former Kentucky starting running back Kavosiey Smoke are also headed to Boulder. Considering the demands of college football's new era, fewer running backs are bell cows who tote the rock 30 times per game. Backfields that feature multiple players are designed, in part, to keep up-tempo offenses operating at a consistent pace. Edwards had 4,436 career yards and 63 touchdowns in two seasons in high school, and Smoke had 1,583 career yards and 13 touchdowns with the Wildcats. That's a formidable one-two punch.
Oh, and don't forget that dual-threat quarterback Shedeur Sanders also followed his father to Colorado after throwing for nearly 7,000 yards and 70 touchdowns in two seasons at Jackson State. Four-star wide receivers Adam Hopkins and Omarion Miller committed to Colorado as well, which suggests that the younger Sanders will have plenty to work with.
It's clear that the Deion Sanders' plan is to create one of the most dynamic offenses in the country, and this class confirms it.
Sanders said at his introductory press conference that he was willing to make bold decisions and set the groundwork for a potential Pac-12 superpower. He even encouraged players to transfer if they weren't completely bought in, wiping the slate clean and using this recruiting cycle as a tone setter for the future of Colorado football.
"A lot of people are gonna bungee jump in that portal after the spring because they are gonna be disappointed in the playing time, the commitment or the level of participation that they are garnishing, and we are gonna take full advantage of that," Sanders said. "So we're not done. This is just a comma for spring. But I love where we are and what we have. I love the secondary from what I see on paper."
Sanders has successfully made Colorado relevant in the offseason, and he hasn't even coached a game yet. Now what matters is pairing recruiting success with wins on the field.