Analysis of Colorado Scholarship Players

We are so intrigued with what’s going on up there that we needed to see who is all left. After all, guys that transferred in this spring are already gone. We used this scholarship chart to analyze where everyone came from and who is returning from the original team:

Italicized is new players for 2023

Bolded means they have double digit starts where they are coming from as we have found that’s the best indicator of success.

QUARTERBACK (3) – All 3 of their players on their roster are brand new to the program, and if Sanders goes down they will be relying on a true freshman

Shadeur Sanders is the obvious one here, transferring in from Jackson State. Don’t need to say a lot here.
Kasen Weisman – True freshman recruit
Ryan Staub – True freshman recruit

RUNNINGBACK (3) – They have options at RB, the two guys with FBS experience give promise and a highly-touted recruit makes me think their room was a lot like ours this spring with 3 guys to choose from.

Kavosiey Smoke – Transfer in from Kentucky with 5 starts over 4 years.
Alton McCaskill IV – The likely starter for Colorado, had a monster 2021 season rushing for nearly 1,000 yards. Suffered a non-contact knee injury last spring holding him out of 2022. How will he come back from that knee injury?
Anthony Hankerson – Returning to Colorado for his sophomore season, rushed for around 300 yards last year
Dylan Edwards – True freshman four star RB in the 2023 class out of Kentucky

WIDE RECEIVER (12) – Not a single returning person at this group, Coach Prime brings in 12 transfers/recruits to bolster the depth. This was a pretty good transfer haul much like his RBs. The Buffs won’t have trouble getting skill position players to come to Boulder. The issue will be other spots.

Javon Antonio – The 6’4″ WR transferred in from Northwestern State where he was 2nd team All-Conference. He has one year of eligibility remaining.
Xavier Weaver – The 6’1″ WR transfers in from South Florida where he was the #4 all-time WR for the Bulls. Like Antonio, he was selected second team All-AAC. He has one year of eligibility remaining.
Jaylen Ellis – Ellis transfers to Colorado from Baylor where he had only one start. He caught 3 balls for 154 yards in 2022 and will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Willie Gaines – Gaines is one of numerous players transferring to Colorado from Jackson State and following Deion Sanders. He finished with 27 receptions for 446 yards and 5 touchdowns at the HBCU
Jimmy Horn Jr – Horn Jr transfers to Colorado from South Florida much like Weaver. He was named first team All-AAC as a punt returner and will work primarily out of the slot as he is 5’9″. In 2022 he totaled 37 receptions, 551 yards, and 3 touchdowns.
Tar’Varish Dawson – Dawson had 2 catches for 30 yards for the Auburn Tigers in 2022. He was committed to Cincy in the transfer portal but flipped to the Buffs. This is mainly a numbers grab.
Isaigh Hardge – All of these following players are true freshman, Hardge a 3 star
Adam Hopkins – Hopkins is a four star from Georgia
Omarion Miller – Miller is a four star from Louisiana
Jordan Onavogue – Onavogue is a three star from California
Jacob Page – Page is a three star from Tennessee
Asaad Waseem – Waseem is a three star from Florida

TIGHTEND (0) – Crazy to think about, but no new guys coming in at TE for the Buffs and their returning guys have almost no experience. This leads me to believe you are going to see the Buffs spread everyone out as they were able to get RBs and WRs but not much along the lines.

Caleb Fauria – A fourth year sophomore due to Covid, he returns to Colorado after playing sparingly
Erik Olsen – A redshirt freshman, he returns to Colorado after seeing no action last year
Louis Pasarello – Ran with the 1s this spring for the Buffs, and he has done next to nothing since being in Boulder

OFFENSIVE LINE (10) – This is where the rubber will meet the road for Deion in Boulder in my opinion. I have no doubt his staff will pick up talented specialists, but they will struggle along the lines. The key is going to be can the JUCO, FCS, Go5, and HBCU guys that did well at lower levels translate it to Power 5 football?

Landon Bebee – Transfers to Colorado from FCS Missouri state where he was 2nd team All-Conference three straight years. He has one year of eligibility remaining.
Reggie Young – Young transfers to the Buffs from Liberty, but spent time at Northwestern State and Iowa Central Comm College. He has one year of eligibility remaining after seeing action in 9 games at Liberty.
Jack Bailey – Bailey started the last two seasons for Kent State and will have two years of eligibility for Colorado. He follows his head coach to Boulder who will now be the offensive coordinator for the Buffaloes. The OL coach from Kent State is also at Colorado now.
Tyler Brown – Brown transfers to Colorado from Jackson State where he started 13 games last year and was a third team FCS All-American. He has two years of eligibility remaining.
Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan – Saw action on special teams for the Buffs and returns.
Isaiah Jatta – Comes to Colorado from Snow Junior College where he was a 1st team JUCO All-American
Kareem Harden – Harden comes to Colorado from Butler Community College where he was injured all of 2021 and spent most of 2022 injured with an ankle sprain.
Savion Washington – Washington is the second player from Kent State to join his head coach and OL coach in Boulder. He started 11 games for the Golden Flashes.
Van Wells – Wells is much like Christian-Lichtenhan where he stays in Boulder after not playing much
Jack Wilty – Wilty started his career at Northern Illinois then transferred to Iowa Central Community College. Wilty only played in 8 games for JUCO but was named to first team all-conference.
David Conner – Transfers to Boulder from Gainesville where he spent one year with the Gators seeing no action.
Carter Edwards – Redshirted for Colorado in 2022
Hank Zilinskas – Zilinskas is the only high school OL recruit in this class and he is a two star recruit from Englewood, Colorado.

DEFENSIVE LINE (7) – If you thought the OL transfers were rough, the DL is even rougher. It is littered with guys that didn’t do much where they were before and are trying to get a fresh start with Sanders in Boulder. To beat a dead horse, Sanders will have no problem getting a back 7, but the line will make or break him.

Taijh Alston – Alston started his collegiate career at East Carolina, then transferred to Copiah Lincoln JUCO before transferring to West Virginia. Had 12 starts in 2021 for the Mountaineers but was rotational in 2022 more than likely leading to his transfer. He has one year of eligibility left.
Leonard Payne Jr – Payne spent his entire collegiate career at Fresno State where he had one start last year with 10 tackles in 2022. 2021 was his better year where he started more games but production was similar. Again probably transferring due to the decrease in playing time.
Shane Cokes – Transfers to Colorado from Dartmouth where he was named 2nd teal All-Ivy league by Phil Steele. He had 22 career starts.
Chazz Wallace – Wallace comes to Boulder from Old Dominion where he played in 23 games but did not start.
Zach Blackwood – Blackwood comes to Colorado from Northern Arizona where he did not record a stat for the Lumberjacks.
Amari McNeill – McNeill comes to Colorado from the SEC and played sparingly for Tennessee where he recorded 2 tackles in 2022.
Bishop Thomas – Thomas comes to Boulder from Florida State where he did not see much action for the Seminoles. He is hoping for a fresh start with the Buffaloes.

EDGE (9) – This room seems like it’s loaded in terms of players with Power 5 experience, they should be able to find some guys to get to the QB. Reminds me a bit of when Nebraska had Nelson, Mathis, and Tannor. They brought back 2 guys from the previous team. I think you may see them play 2 of these guys at a time in their 4-2-5.

Jordan Domineck – Domineck spent 4 seasons at Georgia Tech before transferring to Arkansas for a season. He then transferred to Boulder for his final season of eligibility.
Chance Main – Spent his first two seasons at Independence CC before transferring to Incarnate Word, and sat out 2021 with an injury. He transferred to Colorado for 2022 and received an additional year from Covid/his injury.
Jeremiah Brown – Transfers to Colorado from Jackson State where he had double digit starts at edge and ILB for Coach Prime.
Joshka Gustav – Gustav returns to Colorado after playing the last 3 seasons there. He has some spot starts for the team in his time there.
Deeve Harris – Harris spent his first two seasons at Minnesota before transferring to Old Dominion for his last 2 seasons. He did not see action for the Gophers and averaged roughly a tackle per game for ODU.
Khairi Manns – Played for Maine and started 15 games for the Black Bears. He tallied 3 sacks for them in 2022.
Derrick McClendon II – McClendon transfers to Colorado from Florida State where he played in 38 games and recorded 61 tackles. Mostly a reserve for the Seminoles, he plans to have more of an impact in Boulder.
Sav’ell Smalls – Smalls transfers to Colorado from Washington as a former five star recruit. He played sparingly for the Huskies, producing 32 tackles in 29 career games for Washington.
JJ Hawkins – Hawkins comes to Colorado from Ole Miss where he only saw action in 4 games in 2 years, recording one tackle.
Arden Walker – Played two seasons at Mizzou before transferring to Colorado. Redshirted in 2021 and started the last game/bowl game in 2022 when injuries mounted.
Taje McCoy – McCoy is a 3 star recruit from Oklahoma joining the Buffs.

INSIDE LINEBACKER (7) – This one will be interesting, tons of players coming from prestigious schools but not a lot of starts. In fact, the guy with the most starting experience is a returning Colorado player who i’m told isn’t any good because he’s on a 1 win team from fans.

Brendan Gant – Gant comes to Colorado from Florida State where he started four games in four years for the Seminoles. He is seeking a fresh start and opportunity to play in his last year of eligibility.
Lavonta Bentley– Bentley comes to Colorado after four years at Clemson where he started twice. As a backup, he saw duty when games got out of hand.
Marvin Ham – Returning to Colorado for a fifth year, he has 5 starts in 29 games, all of those starts coming last year.
Isaac Hurtado– Originally signing with Army out of high school, he played one season at Fullerton Community College.
Demuoy Kennedy – Kennedy comes to Colorado from Alabama where he was primarily a special teams player. Played in 5 games on special teams in 2022 before suffering a season ending knee injury.
Eoghan Kerry – Redshirted in 2022 for Colorado (I think)
Victory Johnson – 3 star recruit out of California
Morgan Pearson – 3 star recruit out of Oklahoma
Kofi Taylro-Barrocks – 3 star recruit from Paris

CORNERBACK (6)- All 6 of the scholarship players are new to the program, and when you look at who they have, it is concerning. For a coach that has so much history as a corner, all he really has is Hunter and then the five star true freshman. Other than that, he has a big nothing burger. This will be interesting to see if their pass defense can hold up. I imagine some of the safeties or nickels may get a run at corner.

Omarion Cooper – Cooper comes to Colorado from Florida State. He played two seasons for the Seminoles as a backup recording 30 tackles and 4 PBUs
Kyndrick Breedlove– Breedlove comes to Colorado from Ole Miss where he played two seasons exclusively on special teams.
Jahquez Robinson – Robinson is coming in from Alabama where the only info I can find on him is “he didn’t play much for the Crimson Tide so he is looking for a new home”
Travis Hunter – This name should sound familiar, the nations #1 recruit from 2022 comes to Colorado from Jackson State. He will play both sides of the ball.
Cormani McClain – McClain is a 5 star recruit from the 2023 class
Carter Stoutmire – Stoutmire is a 3 star recruit from Texas in the 2023 class

SAFETY (6) – I suppose I expected this with them running a 4-2-5, but they have a ton of options at safety. You have to imagine they are going to have his son and the other Jackson State player start, but you then have a ton of guys with good experience from other schools and another spot to find a starter with 3 safeties playing.

Rodrick Ward – Ward joins the Buffs from FCS Southern Utah where he was All-Conference. He will have one year of eligibility.
Travis Jay – Jay comes to Colorado from Florida State where he started two games and played mostly a reserve role with the Seminoles.
Shiloh Sanders – Son of Deion, he started his career at South Carolina before transferring to Jackson State. There, he became a second team all-conference player.
Cam’Ron Silmon-Craig – Cam’Ron comes to Colorado from Jackson State where he was a first team all-conference player.
Myles Slusher – Slusher comes to Colorado from Arkansas where he started 15 games, however, he only started in 2 games in 2022 for the Razorbacks.
Trevor Woods – Returns to Colorado for another season. Has been pretty productive while in a Buffs uniform.
Vito Tisdale – Tisdale comes to Colorado from Kentucky where he had a promising freshman year (no starts). He then was caught in some criminal activity and suspended until the charges were dropped. He was supposed to have significant contributions in 2022 but tore his ACL.
Jaden Millner-Jones – 3 star recruit in the 2023 class


There were so many people wanting Deion in Lincoln it really intrigued me. He really hasn’t done anything without his son at QB, and he certainly hasn’t had the success a guy like Rhule has had. Especially when you look at what level they achieved their success. When I saw what he was doing with the roster, I was so happy he didn’t end up in Lincoln (not that there was a chance Alberts would go there). It really intrigues me that people say “they were 1-11 so they had to do this” as if there was no one good on the team. All-conference players left, and that would be like saying Nebraska didn’t have anyone good since they were 4-8. At the end of the day, it’s coaching that determines things in my opinion.

As we talked about earlier, there is no sure bet of how these guys will do unless they have double digit starting experience at a Power 5 school. Colorado has only brought in 2 guys like that in the 70+ transfers they brought in. Oof.

Going further, they are banking on many things that Nebraska did that got us the results from the Frost era. The backups at big programs like Alabama, Ohio State, and USC were things we tried to bolster our roster. The best guys out of those situations are Stephon Wynn and Markese Stepp. Not exactly glowing endorsements and more often than not it doesn’t work out and you get closer to Tyreke Johnson or Kaine Williams.

You then look at guys that were all-conference at FCS or Go5 schools. They brought in a ton of those. This is probably the best strategy for a school like Colorado because many big programs get starters at Power 5s, but schools like the one in Boulder can get guys looking to move up and prove themselves at Power 5 schools. But those are boom or busts for the most part. Samari Toure was great as an All-American from an FCS school for us, however Omar Brown came to us from an FCS school as an All-American and hasn’t done anything. Throw in Kevin Williams who didn’t do anything, but then you have Buschini who did. Chris Kolarevic started every game at Northern Iowa garnering all-conference honors for the Panthers. He transferred to Nebraska to prove himself at the Power 5 level but never started and flip-flopped positions multiple times trying to find a role that never happened. There is just a lot up in the air.

They have been hitting the JUCO ranks hard as well. Those seem to be even more of a question mark… how excited were we about Omar Manning or Nadab Joseph? But then Anthony Grant and Will Honas helped. There’s just so many unknowns.

A massive red flag for me though is how a lot of these guys aren’t transferring from their first destination to Colorado for a second chance. They have a ton of players on their 3rd and even 4th school. Typically if you can’t find a home somewhere, it’s not a good sign. Rarely is it that you just needed that 3rd or 4th school to really excel at the Power 5 level.

And another thing that intrigues me is just how do these things translate from Jackson State to Power 5 football as they brought the most transfers in from that school. Remember, Sanders was extremely critical of NFL teams:

But look deeper… His oldest son went to South Carolina and didn’t play, then all of a sudden transfers to Jackson State and is all-conference? I stumbled onto an HBCU practice on a football trip once and it was unbelievable how disorganized it was. Now, I’m sure Sanders has a much better plan and support system, i’m just getting at what the competition is. If all of a sudden you have to play better players and coaches in Power 5… we will see. But I think it’s a lot more difficult to be good at this level than he is giving it credit for.

I also question if all of these guys can mesh in time for the season. Let’s not forget the fact that rarely do players transfer to just be role guys at places, heck that’s what most of these guys are leaving at Florida State, Alabama, etc. They had roles but wanted larger ones. What happens when they are told they aren’t starting? The portal has seen over 20 guys enter in the month of May, and surely Colorado will have some take off before the season starts when they find out they aren’t starting.

When I think back to Colorado taking over 70 transfers in the portal, it’s staggering. But if Nebraska is able to count Washington, the Huskers actually have twice as many portal transfers with significant P5 starting experience than Colorado. Read that again. Nebraska took probably 25% of the transfers that Colorado did, but somehow ended up with more Power 5 consistent starters than the Buffs. There’s a lot of unknown.

Lastly, they had to go after a ton of guys that missed an entire season prior due to significant injuries. As we’ve talked about, there just isn’t enough guys in the portal to build a competitive team, which is why you can’t just grab 70+ of them and expect things to be better. If you look at who they brought in, they did a good job grabbing some one and dones like at WR or in the back of the secondary. But if you want to have long term success you need developmental guys or you are starting over every single year. It’s why I just don’t think it will work. Every year he will be dealing with re-creating the chemistry in the locker room.

Offensively, it makes sense. He has his son and no guy with experience is coming there to sit the bench. WRs and RBs seem to be deep enough to get them where they want to be. But TEs they only have 3 and brought in no one new, they are going to spread people out and try to light up the scoreboard. Their OL better hope that they hit on the lower-level guys that typically struggle. A Jackson State OL, Kent State (x2), FCS lineman, they are all going to be called upon to start and things aren’t easy right away against TCU. That’s where they are going to struggle.

Defensively, they will run a 4-2-5 and their DTs are much of the same, not very touted guys that are just hoping to have a good year. But their edge players and LBs actually have some pieces. Same goes for safeties and their nickel. They will be fine there. Corners are really fascinating to me… a true freshman and an extremely small Travis Hunter may have some problems.

I just feel like this has dumpster fire written all over it. But they are going to go 3-9 and i’ll have to hear how great of a job it was because it was three times as many wins as they had last year.

Don’t forget, we will launch our T-shirt shop in about a month with a 2 part series i’m pretty pumped about that you will all like over the summer. In the meantime, PayPal helps keeps this site going:

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4 thoughts on “Analysis of Colorado Scholarship Players

  1. Fantastic review of the CU roster! A question…do you think that CU has the coaches to provide the teaching necessary to help lower level kids succeed in the Big 12 and beyond in year one? and also to bring all these new people together as a team by September?

    1. I think they do actually. For example, their OL coach is someone I would want at Nebraska as opposed to who we have right now. With that said, if you are grabbing players that were successful in lower levels, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will do well at the Power 5 level.

      What’s really weird though is if you go to their website, the coaches don’t have any write-up on them except Coach Prime who has a novel written. It’s just so weird.

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