Five Things Deion Sanders Must Do To Make Colorado A Bowl Contender Right Away

BOULDER, CO - DECEMBER 4: Deion Sanders, CUs new head football coach, talks to a packed audience in the Arrow Touchdown Club during a press conference on December 4, 2022 in Boulder, Colorado. CU held an introductory press conference to announce the hiring of Deion Coach Prime Sanders as the schools new head football coach. Chancellor Phil DiStefano and athletic director Rick George accompanied Sanders into a packed room in the Arrow Touchdown Club inside the Dal Ward Athletic Center. Sanders becomes the 28th head coach in Buffalo football history. Sanders, who known as Prime Time during his Hall of Fame playing career has since transitioned into Coach Prime as a head football coach. Sanders, 55, joins the CU program from Jackson State University where in three seasons the Tigers compiled a 27-5 record and won back-to-back Southwestern Athletic Conference championships. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The Deion Sanders era at Colorado has gotten off to a resounding start. In just over a month, Coach Prime has lifted the Buffaloes recruiting class from 68th to 19th.

That’s amazing considering it was accomplished in pretty much three big recruiting weekends. Sanders and his staff went out and landed some big-time recruits to Boulder, but none bigger than the nation’s No. 1 cornerback and top defensive player in Cormani McClain, who flipped from Miami.

That marks the second consecutive season that Sanders has landed the top cornerback during the recruiting cycle. Last year, it was the nation’s top overall recruit Travis Hunter, who surprised everyone and flipped to Jackson State University from the school where Sanders played college football: Florida State University.

Those two pieces are a huge starting point for Colorado, as the program strives to become a power in the Pac-12 and nationally. 

There have been a number of predictions about how well Sanders will do in his first Power Five season. Some are praying for his downfall and others are pulling for the guy they call Coach Prime.

Here are five factors that will go a long way in helping Sanders and the Buffaloes become a national power again, as they were in the early 1990s.

1. Shedeur Sanders Raises Game To Power 5 Level 

Will quarterback Shedeur Sanders be successful against a higher level of competition? Coach Prime’s son is the key to how well Colorado does over the next few seasons. His hopes of becoming an NFL quarterback will be boosted if he can lead Colorado to some unexpected success in his first Power 5 season. Going from the SWAC to the Pac-12 is a pretty big jump, and since he’s the unquestioned signal caller, he doesn’t have a huge adjustment period. 

Sanders shined at Jackson State winning the Jerry Rice Award, which is given annually to the top freshman in FCS. He also took home the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year. His dad thought he should’ve garnered some Heisman hype while at JSU; now he can prove it at Colorado.

2. Defense Needs To Be Ahead Of The Offense

As with most first-year regimes, the defense will be ahead of the offense. That means new defensive coordinator Charles Kelly will be leaned on heavily to keep games close for a Buffaloes offense trying to find its footing.

That’s where the aforementioned McClain and Hunter duo comes into play. In a conference with the likes of reigning Heisman winner and USC star Caleb Williams, Oregon’s Bo Nix and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. leading offenses, cornerback play will be vital, and fortunately the Buffs have two of the most talented ones we’ve seen enter the college game.

Big Flip | Travis Hunter And Cormani McClain Give Deion Sanders The Best Pair Of Cover Corners In College History

 

3. Recruiting Is Always A Factor

Being able to recruit at a high level is vital and will always go a long way in determining the success of a program.

The transfer portal has been good to Coach Prime, and there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to rake in talent on the move. The key will be adding quality linemen on both sides of the football to compete in the conference early.

Using the NIL in recruiting and transfer portal business is huge. The Buffs collective has to be ready to spend some dough.

4. Coaching Matters, Do The Buffs Add Up?

Sanders has put together a very impressive staff on paper and we’ve seen what the coaches he brought with him from JSU can do. The key to this staff will be his coordinators in Sean Lewis (offense) and Charles Kelly (defense) and how they implement in-game adjustments weekly.

“One Of The Best Staffs You’ve Ever Seen Assembled” | Deion Sanders Hires Sean Lewis As Offensive Coordinator, So What Does That Mean For JSU OC Brett Bartolone?

 

5. Getting Off To A Fast Start

Deion Sanders will find out right away how his squad matches up against the country’s top teams. The Buffs will open the season on Sept. 2 against TCU, which advanced to the 2022-23 College Football Playoff National Championship game. Games against Nebraska, Oregon and Heisman favorite Caleb Williams’ USC Trojans lurk in Coach Prime’s first five games of his Colorado tenure.

If Prime can come out of the first five with a winning record, it could provide his team with some great momentum moving forward and the goal would be to finish above .500 and make a Bowl game.