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Coach Prime Lives or Dies in the Transfer Portal

The transfer portal is a part of the new age of college football. As every program uses the portal, except for Dabo Sweeney at Clemson, Deion Sanders at Colorado leads the charge.

This was not a new strategy used to attempt to turn around the floundering Colorado Buffaloes as Coach Prime used the portal at Jackson State extensively as well.

Coach Prime Brings Talent to FCS

Sanders was hired on Sept. 21, 2020, to be the coach of the Jackson State Tigers. The first season at JSU was during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Football Championship Subdivision played the season during the spring 2021. There was virtually no recruiting to speak of during that season according to with just one transfer player and one high school signee during that recruiting cycle.

The 2021 recruiting cycle had 23 high school recruits including his son Shedeur Sanders compared to 19 players through the transfer portal. This season stands out because it was the only season in Coach Prime's college coaching career that more high schoolers were coming into his program than in the transfer portal.

The 2022 season was a historical season for FCS recruiting when five-star cornerback Travis Hunter committed to Jackson State, becoming the first five-star player to ever commit out of high school to an FCS team. This season was also when the trend of recruiting the portal over high school players started. The portal brought Jackson State 18 players meanwhile bringing in only 10 freshmen.

That would be the last season of Coach Prime at Jackson State. He turned around the Tigers from a 21-40 record the six seasons before his arrival to 27-6 during his three seasons in Jackson, Miss.

Coach Prime's Colorado Overhaul

Colorado hired Sanders as their new coach on Dec. 3, 2022, after an abysmal 1-11 season. Tasked with a big-time turnaround Sanders hammered the portal, bringing in a staggering 52 players in the portal, 21 high school recruits while having 57 players transfer out to other programs.

The incoming players from the portal included Hunter and Shedeur Sanders plus seven other players from Jackson State. This was unprecedented to this point in college football but not a complete shock with a complete culture change.

The most recent recruiting cycle had 41 players transfer out of Colorado while 42 players transferred in. Only 13 players are coming in from high school for the 2024 season. This movement is more shocking after one season under his belt in Boulder.

Outlook on Coach Prime's Approach

While nearly every school uses the portal, most coaches still focus on recruiting high school players. No doubt there are many eyes on how this works out for Coach Prime.

The first season in Colorado was an improvement in starting 3-0 but the Buffaloes eventually finished 4-8. If the turnaround is complete and Colorado ends up dominating their "old" new home in the Big 12 Conference you will see more programs take this approach because sports are a copycat game.

With this large turnover, it will be a challenge for the locker room to build the culture necessary to build a dynasty so at some point Sanders will have to stop having so much roster turnover.


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