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Transfer Drama

Where’s Vince Lombardi when you need him? …

Okay, so maybe it’s not that bad, but it has certainly been another interesting week for University of Colorado football.

A year after Coach Prime escorted 56 players out of the program through the Transfer Portal, CU is once again one of the nation’s leaders in departures. With the 16 players who have left the team this week, the total number of scholarship players who have walked out the door of the Champions Center since the end of last season is up over 30.

“We’re good”, Coach Prime said at his Thursday press conference: “I trust the recruiting team. I trust our coaches, and please have some faith in me. We good. We all right. We all right.”

Are we?

The Buff Nation – and the rest of the college football world – was overwhelmed by the tsunami of transfers last spring, as Coach Prime completely overhauled the CU roster.

Still, Colorado fans were more than willing to give Coach Prime and his staff the benefit of the doubt. After watching the worst program in Power Five football in 2022 (and, according to the CBS Sports Bottom 25 and the ESPN Bottom Ten, the worst team in the entire country), we were happy to see any positive movements in the roster emanating out of the Champions Center.

The upgrade in talent on the team is demonstrably clear. Coach Prime has brought in more four-star prospects to CU in the past two seasons than the previous four CU coaching staffs combined, and CU went from a team which was losing games by an average of 29 points in 2022 to a team which was frustratingly close to becoming bowl-eligible in 2023.

With the 2024 spring roster being made up almost entirely of Coach Prime recruits, the hope was that this off-season would be more about reloading than rebuilding.

And yet, here we are again, once more a national leader in players checking out of the program.

Is this all just another step in CU’s continuing rise back to national prominence?

Or will this all lead to yet another “rebuilding” year, with the Buffs destined to once again post more “L’s” than “W’s”?

Let’s find out …

Cormani McClain

Easily the biggest name among the spring defections is five-star cornerback Cormani McClain announced his entry into Transfer Portal. The No. 1 defensive back in the nation in the Recruiting Class of 2023, and the fourth highest-rated recruit in Colorado history, McClain was the crown jewel of Coach Prime’s first freshman Class.

A year ago, Buff fans were dreaming of having the most dominant cornerback tandem in the nation, but it never materialized. While Travis Hunter was everything CU fans could have hoped for, McClain failed to develop.

McClain played in nine games (four starts) for CU last season. McClain totaled 13 tackles and two pass breakups. Coach Prime called out McClain mid-season when asked about his star recruit’s playing time, intimating that McClain was missing meetings, was late for practices, and wasn’t working hard enough at his craft to earn playing time.

“Study, prepare, be on time for meetings. Show up to the darn meetings,” Sanders said when asked about McClain last October. “Understand what we’re doing as a scheme. Want to play this game. Desire to play this game. Desire to be the best at this game — at practice, in the film room and on your own free time.”

As it turned out, Coach Prime’s assessment had some validity. McClain’s grade of 51.4 on 279 snaps by Pro Football Focus in 2023 ranked worst among CU’s defenders that played more than 136 snaps. There were flashes of athletic brilliance, to be sure, but not enough highlights to leave Buff fans with enough positive memories of McClain’s stay in Boulder.

The damage, at least in the short term, while we wait to see who will be replacing the talent lost in the past week, has been to Coach Prime’s – and CU’s – image. Like it or not … appreciate it or not … believe it or not … having Colorado on the front pages of all of the national media websites, with the program and its coach portrayed in a negative light, is not the look a team with eight losses in it last nine games is looking for this spring.

Time will tell if Cormani McClain goes on to become a collegiate star elsewhere, and becomes a first round NFL pick for another program (see: Gonzalez, Christian), or if McClain becomes another in a long line of talented players who never quite lives up to their potential.

In the short term, though, the loss of what could have been the cornerstone of the CU defense in 2025 is a tough pill to swallow.

Offensive line

While the loss of Cormani McClain garnered all of the national attention this past week, the not unexpected defection of offensive lineman Savion Washington could be just as damning.

Washington played in ten games last season, starting nine games at right tackle. A transfer from Kent State, Washington’s lost starts is almost equal to that of all of the other spring transfers combined.

It’s not just the loss of Washington’s starts which is disconcerting, however. With Washington gone, and fellow starters Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan and Van Wells transferring to Oregon State, CU’s 2023 starting offensive is effectively gone.

Now, with that line giving up a school-record 52 sacks last season, it can certainly be argued that a fresh start was necessary.

But … that’s pretty much what we heard last spring, when the 2022 offensive line (which was not great, but decent) needed to be jettisoned in favor of Coach Prime’s recruits.

Now, while there seems to be consensus that there has been a substantial upgrade in talent along the offensive line, with the unit a top priority in the first Transfer Portal window this past December, there is still reason to be concerned that a complete makeover of the offensive line year after year is not in the best interests of the program.

More than another unit on the team, the offensive line needs to play with one heartbeat. Each lineman needs to not only know their assignment, but know the assignment – along with the capabilities – of their linemates. This is a cohesiveness which is built over time. Trust and instinct are as much a part of successful line play as size and strength.

The loss of Savion Washington in and of itself is not fatal to the potential success of this year’s line. In fact, it can be argued that Washington’s inability to keep his starting job is an indication of just how much the line play has improved.

But, in a week when the Colorado roster is yet again losing a significant percentage of last year’s team … Washington’s departure is not a good look.

Returning production lost

Much of the hand-wringing over the number of players lost can be obviated if you stop to look at actual numbers … as in the actual production lost.

Would it have been better if Colorado would not have made headlines over number of players lost to the Transfer Portal this past week?


Would it have been better if Coach Prime could have shown that he had the ability to not only to identify Power Four talent in his remake of the roster last year, but also to be able to sustain and develop that roster?


But there is always going to be attrition. There are always going to be losses to graduation, to injury, and to players looking for a better opportunity for playing time.

And, if the numbers from last year are any indication, Coach Prime and his staff have a good opportunity to rebuild on what is arguably the best foundation CU has seen in a decade.

Lost production – offense:

  • Alton McCaskill – running back … four games played; 78 total yards
  • Chamon Meteyer – tight end … transfer from Cincinnati … was a Buff for three months
  • Jacob Page – wide receiver … freshman
  • Tar’Varish Dawson – wide receiver … seven games played; 132 total yards; two touchdowns
  • David Conner – offensive lineman … didn’t play a down at CU
  • Isaiah Jatta – offensive lineman … played in 11 games; one start
  • Savion Washington – offensive lineman … played in 10 games; nine starts

Lost production – defense:

  • Vito Tisdale – safety … three games played; zero starts; zero tackles
  • Khairi Manns – edge rusher … 11 games played; one start; nine tackles; one sack
  • Cormani McClain – defensive back … nine games played; four starts; 13 tackles; two passes defended
  • Devee Harris – outside linebacker … 12 games played; zero starts; 14 tackles
  • Jaden Milliner-Jones – safety … 12 games played; one start; 18 tackles; three passes defended
  • Chazz Wallace – defensive line … 10 games played; four starts; 11 tackles
  • Myles Slusher – defensive back … four games played; one start; 17 tackles; one sack
  • Demouy Kennedy – linebacker … 10 games played; zero starts; 13 tackles
  • Eric Brantley – edge rusher … true freshman; spent three months as a Buff

Now, would it have better optically if Cormani McClain was still a Buff? Definitely. Would it would be great to have Alton McCaskill in the CU backfield, and have Savion Washington in the offensive line room as an experienced backup and potential starter? Sure. Would Buff fans like to see how Jaden Milliner-Joes develop? Yes.

But there are now over a dozen more scholarship positions available for Coach Prime and his staff to fill, hopefully beginning this weekend.

And, if the above stats are any indication, Coach Prime doesn’t have to hit too many home runs on the new commits to replace what has been lost.

The tough part of the Transfer Portal drama will be closing at the end of the month.

The fun part of the Transfer Portal drama is just getting started …


9 Replies to “Transfer Drama”

  1. It isn’t sustainable. You cannot have a new team every year and be successful. That being said, you can upgrade year over year, but it’s a 2-3 season return at max. Time to coach up men rather than always finding new ones.

    1. Agreed
      hopefully this year will be a smaller turnover than last year and so on. The high school recruiting numbers worry me. Prime keeps complimenting his recruiting team. Hopefully he isnt relying on the “team” too much with all the commercials, appearances etc. His name is a big draw but it doesnt work all that well if the recruit doesnt hear enough directly from him….parents of course, too. I’m betting a lot of parents of high school kids arent all that impressed with the fashion stow type stuff either.

    2. At some point will Toto pull the curtain back?

      So 20 scholarships leave. 25% turnover. Sheesh tough job.

      Go Prime show……………..2nd run season. Don’t get canceled.

      Go Buffs with you bad weather again…………….Cursed maybe?

      Note: How many 2025 commits from the college ranks? ZERO…………..247 DOESN’T EVEN HAVE COLORADO LISTED ON THE BIG 12 2025 RECRUITING LIST. HOLY MOLY

  2. If it was just a matter of fit or effort, the portal and who enters it would make more sense, but with NIL and people talking in player’s ears about their worth, it’s much more complicated. Some are chasing playing time, others NIL and others both.

    So, 30 or so players have entered the portal, last year, teams that had 4 – 6 wins the prior year(s) had similar portal action and some were Hippocrates bagging on Prime for his use of the portal while bringing in 30 plus players from the portal themselves.

  3. McClain? pffft. Last thing you need is a lazy me first problem.
    Brantley, on the other hand, it would be nice to know why he left. He was the high school D player of the year in the football mad state of Georgia. Show me the money.
    The fact that almost every player think they can make it to the NFL , at least in their first college year, now means no one wants to be a depth player and the portal beckens…….and the Buffs still need some competent depth players on the lines and at LB.
    The portal also trickles down talent through the team levels but even if you get a player from one of the big schools you are still getting a castoff. He might help the talent level on his new team, but everything being relative, the big schools still keep a stranglehold on the best talent.

    1. I think that you hit it on the head: (a) Every player wants exposure on the field–no player wants to be depth player even if they are RS-Frosh or Sophs; (b) several players even #2 on a depth chart at a certain position will still look to transfer, if not to shop for being a #1 + NIL (Aka: “the bag”)–is that Sav Washington?; (c) CM still looked about 175 pounds, that will not automatically start at any P-65 school–IMO his rating will stay high since none of the recruiting services really want to admit they totally blew it; and (d) they should require an exit interview with either the Asst. AD to get a feel what is happening.

      Kids from big schools can be cast-offs, have injury issues or be decent players. Bear Alexander delivered for USC last year, hit the portal, USC delivered a larger bag, out of the portal, but is hurt again not in the Spring Game/practice? The interesting ones are some of the well scouted guys jumping a level. CU got burned by some there (I think our scouting department is better this year), but we hit gold with Roderick Ward. IMO, game experience really counts for something. It sounds like McKinney is one of our better gets and he played the 2nd half of the season for Okie State. Have to see with the Oline guys–certainly they are bigger and stronger. Same with the Dline, perhaps best Portal Class position–added Hayes today.

      I am just going to take a wait and see approach, as to who leaves and then who signs in their place. We need some LBs. I perused the recruiting rankings, 247 is behind in their evals, On3 is a little faster but it appears many guys that departed CU in the bottom half of the entire portal. Hayes (Edge) that just committed is 45 On3 lower on 247–but still Top 5th.

  4. While their play was atrocious at times, when you keep hearing the ‘most sacks allowed’ while no blame gets put on the coaches son behind you, I’d want the hell out of dodge too.

  5. This is much adieu about nothing. The driving force behind players transfering is that they want to play (why do you think most transfers end up at lesser schools football wise). You tell a player they are second/third string in the Spring and they hit the portal. It is more so at CU because of the number of transfer players they had to start with. A transfer player wants to start and if they aren’t going to they will transfer again. Cormani got the highlight, but other 4/5 star players out of HS are transfering and the reality is Cormani looks like a (5* athlete) but a 3* transfer. For the HS players that came to CU, we are about average on transfers, so again much adieu about nothing. There are a lot of Prime haters out there, including a lot of coaches because Prime is doing things his way. We’ll see how it works out (win wise) but for now I am fascinated to see what he can do (doing it his way). So haters can just go……

  6. I wanna believe, I wanna believe.

    But………….I’ll wait to see it to believe it. Wait till like 6 games have been played. Until then?

    Go Big Prime ball? Kill the beard.

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