The first phase of Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders and Colorado’s roster rebuild has been completed. 56 Colorado football players entered the portal from the initial coaching change in October 2022 through the 2023 spring transfer portal window. Below you’ll find all transfer portal and recruit commitments to Colorado for the 2023 roster and beyond as well as key players who…
Rashaan Salaam, Eric Bieniemy, Chris Brown and Phillip Lindsay headline a long list of Colorado running back greats.
The Buffs may have their next in Alton McCaskill.
The former Houston Cougar was one of the best true freshmen in the country during the 2021 season as he produced 1074 all-purpose yards on 210 touches for 18 touchdowns. While he was only ranked the 27th best running back according to 247Sports 2021 Composite rankings, it took him two games before he took over as Houston's starting running back.
McCaskill sat out the 2022 season after suffering a torn ACL during spring practice before entering the transfer portal and committing to Colorado. How he's fully healthy and adding him to Coach Prime's roster gives Colorado one of the best running back rooms in the Pac-12 coming into the 2023 season.
From the moment McCaskill committed to Colorado, he became the Buffs' lead back ready to contribute in every facet of the offense.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds on Houston's 2022 roster, McCaskill was also a track star at Oak Ridge High School running a 10.91s 100-meter dash. He has a special combination of size, speed and strength that not only make him a force when running or catching the ball but also when asked to block in the pass or run game.
This is Alton McCaskill. Patience to hit the hole, a burst to daylight while breaking arm tackles along the way and forcing the defense to tackle him with multiple players.
While he is a disciplined, patient runner who allows plays to develop, McCaskill also has great vision and instincts to bounce runs outside the intended hole instantly.
Houston had a great team in 2021. Their offensive line does the majority of the work on this play but McCaskill has the ability to rip off large chunks of yardage on any given play. In 2021, he had 29 explosive runs (runs of 10+ yards).
This was McCaskill's first career touchdown. I've got to mention the great play design by Shannon Dawson who is now Miami's offensive coordinator. Colorado's newest running back shows a great play fake and then natural hands down the field to stroll into the end zone untouched.
Want him to be your lead blocker on a jet sweep or end around for Dylan Edwards or Jimmy Horn? McCaskill can do that for offensive coordinator Sean Lewis with no problem.
How about staying in the backfield to protect Sheduer Sanders against the blitz so the offense can go downfield? He checks that box as well.
Colorado fans would like to see McCaskill keep his head up if he's going to block faceup, but when you're a 215-pound back you're used to absorbing contact with ease.
Whatever the situation or play call may ask for, Alton McCaskill can be relied on to be on the field for Colorado at any point in 2023. He is a true, complete three-down back.
"McCaskill breaks free!"
Watching McCaskill run the football makes you hold your breath, waiting to see what else he is capable of and if the next play is when he is let loose.
2021 was Houston's best season since 2015 and McCaskill's playmaking ability was a huge reason why. That year McCaskill set a Houston freshman record for touchdowns in a season with 16.
The stop-start ability and patience McCaskill displays behind the line of scrimmage is not only a prime showcase of #22's discipline and natural ability, but it's also how he can turn a short gain into a touchdown. The left side of Houston's offensive line flat-out loses at the line of scrimmage but it gives McCaskill a crease to slam on the gas and score.
Houston is just trying to keep the clock running so they can get out of Louisiana and on their way back to Texas but McCaskill's strength and contact balance keep him upright to allow his speed to take another run to paydirt.
This play probably results in a negative gain for most freshman running backs. McCaskill finds the hole regardless and sprints through multiple arm tackles for a house call against Tulsa.
East Carolina already knows another McCaskill run is coming on first down as they commit hard to the top of the screen off of Houston's inside zone action. But McCaskill immediately diagnoses the flow of the defense and cuts back before bulldozing his way into the end zone in what would be the game-winning touchdown.
He may not be as fast as Dylan Edwards or Jimmy Horn, but if you give the former Cougar an alley to run through, McCaskill can turn on the burners and erase angles.
Long story short for these two teams in 2021; UConn was awful and Houston was pretty good. That McCaskill kid is pretty good too.
The latest starting offensive player added to Colorado's roster is a game-changer. The pieces are there for Sean Lewis to create and lead one of the Pac-12's most lethal offenses this fall. Now that Colorado has a dynamic, all-conference running back in McCaskill along with the threat of the passing game with Sheduer Sanders, Travis Hunter, Jimmy Horn, Xavier Weaver and company; the improvement in the Buffs' offensive talent this upcoming season compared to last year's is astronomical.
Short yardage monster
At this point, it goes without saying, McCaskill will lead the way for Colorado's power run game moving forward.
It's not just his size, strength and burst but his patience, vision and football intelligence that makes him so reliable. Sure, he could be a very good short-yardage back by utilizing his size and bowling ahead for as many yards as he can physically get. But watch how deliberate he is when he breaks for the line of scrimmage in the cut-up below.
It's evident in all the runs above, but the final run of the cut-up proves how smart and natural of a football player McCaskill is.
Colorado has a trio of hardnosed running backs who will scratch and claw for every yard in McCaskill, Kavosiey Smoke and Anthony Hankerson. It's worth noting that despite his stature, Charlie Offerdahl also fits this bill. Those three backs all could provide short yardage and goal-line duties for Colorado's running game but the Houston native is clearly different.
How does McCaskill change things on offense for Colorado?
There has been a lot of information flying around when it comes to Coach Prime, his staff and which players are joining or leaving CU. To help make sense of it all and consolidate all that information in one place, here is the Prime Tracker.This article will be updated often and the latest updates will be moved to the top…
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Aided by the arrival of Shedeur Sanders, the Pac-12 has earned the nickname “conference of quarterbacks” heading into 2023. While the conference is rich with talent at quarterback, it only places a greater emphasis on having a quality pass rush. Coach Prime attacked the portal to improve Colorado’s pass rush with Jordan Domineck being the crown jewel.
Domineck played for Georgia Tech from 2018-2021 before entering the transfer portal and joining Arkansas for the 2022 season. He successfully made the jump to the SEC and had his best season yet last year for the Razorbacks.
After transferring into CU as a graduate transfer, Domineck has the inside track to be Colorado’s best pass rusher in quite some time. In this edition of Buffs Film Room, we take a look at Domineck’s best plays and break down how he impacts the game.
Affecting the quarterback
Last year, Colorado’s defense only charted nine sacks. That total was dead last amongst FBS teams and five sacks fewer than the next closest team. Domineck amassed 7.5 sacks and finished 2022 as Arkansas’ second-leading sack man losing out to future NFL Draft selection Drew Sanders.
While Domineck only had nine sacks throughout his four seasons at Georgia Tech, he graded out well in terms of pressure statistics from PFF and ESPN Stats & Info. These next few rushes highlight exactly what the Florida native can do to get to the quarterback.
Early on in the Yellow Jackets' 2021 late-season matchup against Notre Dame, Domineck executed this beautiful long arm and dip to get under the right tackle to get the sack.
Now from last year against Cincinnati, the former Razorback puts a beautiful spin move on the Bearcats' left tackle and crushes the quarterback for a sack and forced fumble in the fourth quarter.
In Arkansas' showdown against Kansas in the 2022 Liberty Bowl, Domineck showcased his get-off alongside that long arm around the edge to get Jalon Daniels to the ground.
While this is not a sack, number 14 in red does a great job attacking the mesh point of this LSU read option to wreck the play and force a field-flipping turnover for Arkansas.
Even though he only started in spots across his five-year career, Domineck routinely affected the game and was a force for his team when on the field.
Holding the line of scrimmage
We know the pass-rushing skills are there, but when it comes to the run game Domineck maintained his ability to create plays and make offenses earn every yard against him. Listed at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds; Domineck has the strength, length and tenacity to defend the run at a high level.
Alabama is running split zone here, the tight end is supposed to come across the formation and seal off Domineck from making this play from the backside. However, we see that quick get off into the backfield again that allows him to neutralize the play.
Now we see the graduate transfer from Lakeland, FL able to penetrate and wreck the play at the point of attack. Once again that quick get-off is on display and Domineck stops this play before it even has a chance.
Colorado’s season came to a swift end after their second-round NIT loss to Utah Valley and it only took a matter of days before we saw three players enter the transfer portal and two players seek NBA Draft feedback. We are only one week into the off-season and Buffs’ roster is completely in flux. Five-star Cody Williams is coming along…
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Coach Prime’s Florida to Boulder pipeline has now brought in Xavier Weaver to team up with his former USF teammate Jimmy Horn Jr.
Last year at South Florida, Weaver and Horn were the Bulls' first and second leading receiver’s respectively and routinely created offense for a team that went 1-11.
Now at Colorado with Shedeur Sanders leading them onto the field to run Sean Lewis’ offense, the duo is primed to explode into the college football spotlight.
Weaver can win at any level of the field
Xavier Weaver was a 2019 three-star recruit who had only shown flashes of potential in his first two seasons at South Florida before leading the Bulls in receiving in 2021.
His impressive 2021 season put Weaver on the map and prior to the 2022 season, he earned Biletnikoff Award Watch List honors. He delivered and set new career highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2022.
Despite the Bulls winning only three games the last two seasons, Weaver proved that he possesses game-changing athleticism, route running and big play ability.
Weaver and the Bulls struggled with sub-par quarterback play the last two years. However, if the ball was ever thrown near the 6-foot-1 receiver, he proved he was able to make some insane catches. Weaver does a great job with his release to gain separation off the line of scrimmage. He stacks the cornerback on his back easily with his speed and could potentially score if the throw led Weaver down the field but regardless, he makes a ridiculous one-handed catch as he's adjusting his body mid-air.
Here we get a better understanding of Weaver’s speed and catch-and-run potential. Once again, No. 10 wins off the line with his release and gains immediate separation. This time the ball is delivered on target, Weaver completes the catch and makes the instant transition from receiver to runner to turn a slant route into a 60-yard gain.
This time the cornerback stays square with Weaver throughout the release, into the route and squeezes the former Bull towards the sideline. Weaver is able to track the ball with ease and tightrope the sideline for a huge reception on third-and-long.
Chances are Weaver will see his fair share of off-coverage given how he’s able to win off the line of scrimmage with his releases. But he can create separation down the field with his routes and flexible, low-sinking hips.
Here’s another great example of route running and release ability from Colorado’s newest wide receiver. Also, check out the route that Jimmy Horn Jr. runs out of the slot to the field side of the formation.
Prior to Weaver’s announcement that he was transferring to Colorado, Coach Prime and the Buffs had added a CU-record eight receivers to the team via recruiting or the transfer portal.
Given the fact that Colorado’s leading receiver from 2022, Jordyn Tyson, will be working his way back from injury throughout 2023; adding a ninth receiver in Weaver not only makes sense in terms of depth but it makes Colorado harder to defend.
Weaver could line up anywhere on the field for Colorado's offense this fall. He has the ability to win off the line of scrimmage to play in the slot but also has enough size and contested catch ability to win outside.
Expect Weaver to compete for a starting role and to make big plays throughout the 2023 season.
Horn’s valuable versatility
Although Weaver led South Florida in all three major receiving statistics the last two seasons, Jimmy Horn Jr. may be the more talented and versatile of the two.
Horn was a star sprinter for Seminole High School before committing to South Florida in 2021. Once he arrived in Tampa to play for the Bulls, Horn proved to be a valuable chess piece that could score from any distance or position on the football field.
While Horn improved in all offensive statistics in 2022 compared to 2021, it was Horn’s ability as a kick returner that earned him First-Team All-AAC honors. Now entering his junior year at CU, Horn could solidify himself as one of the most dangerous all-around players in the Pac-12.
This was Horn’s only touchdown as a true freshman in 2021 and it came against the best team the University of Cincinnati ever fielded. As this play makes clear, if Horn is able to gain the edge and has a lane, he’s going to take it all the way to the house. This is NFL game-breaking speed.
As a sophomore in 2022, Horn proved that he was able to handle an expanded role and be an impact player in the run game. This is a brilliant play design from South Florida and Horn has easy speed to effortlessly pull away from defenders.
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