Forty-eight scholarship players have transferred from the University of Colorado just four months after Deion Sanders was hired as head football coach. Among them, seven of eight defensive linemen who played any meaningful time, all nine top receivers, all four top quarterbacks, and 12 of 17 defensive backs who even touched the field in 2022. The Buffaloes finished a meager 1-11 last season.
But this kind of mass exodus has never been seen before. According to Max Olson of The Athletic, Prime Time can add up to 70 newcomers to his roster in Year 1. Whether or not the talent leaving would have had a meaningful impact on the Buffs in 2023, the transfer bleed took a hit on Colorado futures odds.
A Prime New Era In Boulder
Colorado isn’t left without talent. From Day 1, Sanders told current players that he was bringing in his own players, namely former No. 1 recruit Travis Hunter and Prime’s own son, Shedeur Sanders. As it stands today, four projected starters remain on the team, per OurLads.
The biggest unit of note is perhaps the defensive secondary. It’s made up of two five-stars: Hunter (who’s expected to play both sides of the ball) and Cormani McClain, the No. 1 corner prospect whom Colorado flipped from Miami in the winter. Arkansas senior transfer Myles Slusher gives the secondary some experience while incumbent starter Trevor Woods and Jackson State transfer Cam’Ron Silmon-Craig round out the group. From a talent perspective, the unit looks pretty solid.
The biggest concerns come at the defensive line and whether or not the Jackson State corps – which played at the FCS level – holds up in the Power Five. After all, the Pac-12 projects to be one of the toughest top-heavy leagues. The entire front four are grad transfers, but from varying levels of college football. They’re “Prime’s Guys,” but are they Power Five players?
Colorado Futures Odds Dip After Spring Transfers
FanDuel Sportsbook opened Colorado’s win total first. That number came days after Sanders accepted the Colorado job and announced he’d be bringing a slew of Jackson State players along. Initially, FanDuel lined the Buffs for 4.5 wins, with a slight shade to under that number.
Following another wave of transfers in the spring window, that number fell to 3.5 (Over -128). Their Pac-12 championship odds fell slightly, down to .
However, their National Championship odds did not move. Those opened at longshot 300-1 odds, in line with teams like Kansas, Boise State, and Cal.
Colorado Futures Odds: Pac-12 Forecast
It’s a tough year to be a rebuilding team in the Pac-12. Washington, Oregon, USC, and Utah all return top-flight QBs while Oregon State and UCLA bring in new top-flight talent. Shedeur Sanders came into college football as a four-star prospect, but there’s a chance he’s not a top-six QB in this conference. Reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams, Michael Penix Jr., and Bo Nix set a high standard.
Though leagues exist with a tougher cast of defenses, you can’t win in the Pac-12 without a deep front. Last year, USC collapsed against Utah in the Pac-12 Championship and again in the Cotton Bowl due to being one-ply deep along the offensive and defensive lines. Oregon also struggled across the back stretch of the season with the same issue.
This season, the Buffs take on five of the top six Pac-12 teams. They avoid Washington, but open Pac-12 play at Oregon. Outside league play, Colorado visits national-runner up TCU and then hosts a revamped Nebraska team in the first two weeks.
Oregon and USC come back-to-back, as do Oregon State and UCLA. The Buffs close the regular season out at Utah.
Initial preseason ratings put Colorado 11th out of 12 teams, only ahead of Stanford.
Pac-12 Preseason Power Rankings