Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Colorado Buffs Community!

Five takeaways halfway through Coach Prime and Colorado's spring practices

Jake Schwanitz Avatar
April 8, 2024

As Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders and the Colorado football team approach the halfway point of spring football, pieces are beginning to fall into place. Coach Prime will certainly bring in more talent when the spring transfer portal window opens next week but the foundation of Colorado’s roster has improved drastically since this time last year. Here are five takeaways from the first two weeks of spring football for Coach Prime and Colorado.

CU’s offense and defense exchange blows

Shedeur Sanders is still operating with surgical precision and Travis Hunter continues to tip the field for whichever side he lines up on but the level of talent has been raised across the field at CU. Through six spring practices, Colorado’s offense and defense have gone back and forth in terms of winning the day according to Uncle Neely. This pattern was how the team started in fall camp in the lead-up to the 2023 season before Shedeur and the Buffs’ offense pulled ahead in late August. Although the offense and defense are still in the early days of installs with new coordinators, Pat Shurmur and Robert Livingston, iron is sharpening iron in Boulder.

Multiple new transfers such as LaJohntay Wester, Preston Hodge and Chidozie Nwankwo have played as advertised through the early days of spring. Colorado’s young talent has continued to blossom with players like Omarion Miller creating serious buzz for themselves. The comparison between Colorado’s spring roster this year and last year isn’t even close. Expect the Buffs to get even better after the upcoming transfer window later this month.

Operation DT2 is in full effect

Sep 30, 2023; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) looks to the sidelines in the first quarter against the USC Trojans at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

The question of the offseason, how much has Colorado’s offensive line improved? Jordan Seaton, Justin Mayers, Kahlil Benson and Sheduer have been inseparable this offseason and the sense is that the off-field chemistry is translating onto the field.

Despite being a true freshman only a few months removed from high school, Jordan Seaton has been as advertised if not more. Left tackle is now a strength for the Buffs. Justin Mayers has also slotted in at left guard after proving himself to be one of the best left guards in the country at UTEP. Tyler Brown would have started at left guard for Colorado last season before the NCAA’s awful decision to rule him ineligible. Brown has jumped right back into the starting conversation and has been battling with Hank Zilinskas and Yakiri Walker to start at center but could settle in at a more natural position at right guard. The battle at right tackle between Kahlil Benson and Savion Washington remains ongoing but the sense is Benson has the early lead.

More offensive linemen are expected to join the team after the upcoming transfer portal window but a clear top six have emerged. Through the early days of spring football, six players have played the majority of first-team reps. Colorado’s first-team offensive line from left to right has been Jordan Seaton, Justin Mayers, Hank Zilinskas, Tyler Brown/Tyler Johnson and Kahlil Benson.

Colorado’s deep RB room

During the first week of spring practices Alton McCaskill, Dylan Edwards and Sy’veon Wilkerson dominated the early days of spring practices and now Micah Welch and Charlie Offerdahl are breaking off massive runs. The Buffs’ running backs were neutralized as the offensive line struggled throughout last season but the talent at running back has been strong since Coach Prime’s arrival. Expect to see Colorado’s 2023 approach of running back by committee again in 2024 in an attempt to get this group of talented rushers as many opportunities as possible.

Dylan Edwards was the star of spring camp last season and continues to impress by ripping off touchdowns and big gains with ease. Another year removed from ACL reconstruction, Alton McCaskill has broken into the open field occasionally and appears ready to handle the bulk of carries to start the season. Micah Welch became a fan favorite shortly after he arrived in Boulder with his work ethic and demeanor and now he’s making an early impact on the field. Listed at 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, Welch is a bowling bowl at running back and his physical playstyle should result in him receiving meaningful carries this fall.

Shilo Sanders continues to set the tone

Oct 28, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Colorado Buffaloes safety Shilo Sanders (21) forces a fumble by UCLA Bruins running back Carson Steele (33) in the first half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This time last year Shilo Sanders was still finishing his degree at Jackson State in preparation for his summer move to Boulder. Despite missing spring football, Shilo went on to have the best season of his college career in 2023. Shilo credited the jump in his game last year to then-defensive coordinator Charles Kelly. Now that Robert Livingston leads Colorado’s defense, Shilo will be able to pick Livingston’s mind and improve further with Livingston’s NFL coaching experience.

Shilo’s old-school, heavy-hitting play style has drawn plenty of outside criticism but Shilo only has one play speed and that’s full throttle. Shilo is the tone-setter for Colorado’s defense and inspires his teammates to play with a similar mentality.

Stock up for D.J. McKinney

One of the most underrated transfers to commit to Colorado last winter, D.J. McKinney was a projected 2024 starter for Oklahoma State after a strong freshman season in 2023. Now McKinney will learn directly from the best cornerback to ever play the game. Coach Prime has already called his shot when it comes to McKinney’s NFL potential and the young cornerback has found himself running with Colorado’s first-team consistently. Coach Prime challenged McKinney to become an impact player for Colorado’s defense and the early returns are promising. If McKinney’s development continues as projected, he could be the favorite to start across from Travis Hunter at cornerback this fall.

Cornerback should be a position that Coach Prime and Colorado target in the portal as they continue to build depth at the position. Preston Hodge has been projected to be Colorado’s starting nickel since his commitment in December and has delivered since showing up in Boulder. Cormani McClain and Omarion Cooper should factor into the conversation also but after them, Colorado would be counting on walk-ons at the position.


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?