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Deion “Primetime” Sanders Turns Over Colorado Football

Deion+Primetime+Sanders+Turns+Over+Colorado+Football

“It’s personal.”

At this point, it’s hard to find something that Colorado head football coach Deion Sanders doesn’t find personal.

Since being hired back in December 2022, Sanders, also known as Coach Prime, has led the Colorado University football program to a full 180 degree turn from last season. Through his recruiting process, coaching methods, and persona, Coach Prime has sent waves through college football. 

Sanders played football at Florida State from 1985-1988 as a defensive back and returner. Sanders chose FSU partly because it allowed him to play all three of his favorite sports: football, baseball, and track. Beginning in his freshman year, he started in the Seminoles’ secondary, played outfield for the baseball team that finished fifth in the nation, and helped lead the track and field team to a conference championship. His versatility and athletic ability made him one of the most entertaining players to watch. Sanders became known for sporting a “durag” or bandana and for high-stepping into the end zone followed by his touchdown dance celebrations. His entertainment on the field, paired with his off-the-field antics earned him the nickname “Prime Time.” In 1988, Sanders was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 30th round of the MLB June Amateur Draft. Just ten months later, in April of 1989, the three-time All-American and Jim Thorpe award winner was drafted 5th overall by the Atlanta Falcons. While Sanders never played in both leagues on the same day, he had impressive careers in both sports.

Sanders retired from the NFL in 2006 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. He began his college coaching career in 2020 after eight years coaching high school football teams in Texas, taking the head coaching job at Jackson State University. Coach Prime led the Tigers to a 27-6 record in his three years at JSU. This success earned him a job at Colorado.

Sanders faced some criticism for leaving Jackson State for Colorado. Some critics say that he sold a dream and then walked out on the dream. Regardless of what people think, Sanders remained steadfast in his decision to become the head coach at Colorado.

After taking over as head coach at the University of Colorado in December 2022, Sanders had the near impossible task of turning around the Buffaloes football program. The Buffaloes finished the 2022 season with an overall record of 1-11 and a PAC-12 conference record of 1-8.

“I’m bringing my own luggage with me… and it’s Louis, ok.” Part of his plan to turn the program around was bringing in many key players through the transfer portal like his two sons, Shedeur and Shilo Sanders, and star two-way player, Travis Hunter. Sanders and his staff at Colorado recruited a record-setting 53 players through the transfer portal and several new additions through the freshman class that Sanders recruited. Some prominent names from that class include Cormani McClain and Dylan Edwards. McClain, a former five-star recruit, has yet to see the field in the Buffaloes first four games because of off-the-field issues. “Study and prepare. Be on time for meetings, show up to the darn meetings,” Sanders said when asked about McClain. Edwards had a strong start to the season averaging 5.6 yards per carry and three touchdowns in the first four games. 

Sanders and his Buffaloes debuted in an away game vs Texas Christian University on September 2. The Horned Frogs were ranked 17th nationally at the time because of the stellar season they had the previous year, just coming up short in the national championship. The Buffaloes came out on top in this high scoring affair 45-42. Sander’s recruits came to play this game. Shedeur Sanders threw for a school record 510 yards and four touchdowns, but the real story comes from the two-way star, Travis Hunter. Travis Hunter played an unprecedented 120 snaps versus TCU at cornerback and wide receiver. Hunter accumulated 11 receptions for 119 yards and one interception on the defensive side of the ball. Following the victory, Colorado shot up the rankings to 21st nationally.

Colorado went on to play the Nebraska Cornhuskers the following week in Boulder’s home opener. Colorado took advantage of Nebraska’s many turnovers. Nebraska’s Jeff Sims accounted for two fumbled snaps, one interception, and one fumbled handoff. The plethora of turnovers turned out to be a great debut for the Colorado turnover throne. Colorado won its home opener against the Huskers 36-14 and improved their record to 2-0.

Colorado’s next game against the in-state rival Colorado State started even before the whistles blew. Colorado State’s head coach, Jay Norvell, said that “when I talk to grownups, I take my hat and my glasses off,” referring to Deion Sanders when he talked with the media following the Nebraska game. Norvell also implied that because Sanders did not remove his hat and sunglasses, his mother did not raise him right. This Rocky Mountain Showdown was a thrilling and chippy rivalry game. Emotions were at an all time high when Colorado State safety, Henry Blackburn, hit Travis Hunter late after a play. Blackburn earned a personal foul and Hunter left the contest and went to the hospital. In this double overtime thriller, Colorado earned its third victory, taking home this year’s Centennial Cup.

With expectations running rampant, Colorado was pitted against the 10th ranked Oregon Ducks at home in Autzen Stadium. The headlines of this game did not live up to the hype. The Ducks manhandled the Buffaloes, handing Sanders his first defeat at Colorado 42-6. Sanders was quoted in saying, “that was a good ole-fashioned butt-kicking” following the game. 

After Colorado’s lackluster performance against the Ducks, Colorado had a very tough matchup against the USC Trojans, lead by Heiseman winner Caleb Williams. The Trojans started hot and had a 34-14 lead at halftime, but the Buffaloes did not give up. They fought until the last whistle, but fell to the Trojans 48-41.

While many see Coach Prime’s words and actions as harsh and controversial, there is some respect to be had for his authenticity. He says what he means without the extra fluff. Regardless of the public’s opinion of him, no one can argue with his success on and off the field.

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About the Contributor
Ashton Schroder, Reporter
Ashton joined The Mount Journalism team in 2023. Schroder also participates in baseball, football, and investment club.
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