Anyone who watched the Pac-12 with any regularity last season and tuned into Colorado’s spring game on ESPN on Saturday saw a familiar gait, a familiar style, and even, dare I say, a familiar swagger.

A year after USC‘s head coach/quarterback battery of Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams made their primetime debut in the Trojans spring game — like Colorado’s, the only one nationally televised by ESPN a year ago — Deion Sanders,= and his son, Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders, made theirs.

And what a display it was.

While unofficial spring game statistics are about as reliable as a beat-up ‘78 Ford Pinto and any takeaways are about as valid as a McLovin driver’s license, Sanders showed just some of the talent he displayed as a 4-star recruit at Jackson State.

And while you can scrutinize his Southwestern Athletic Conference competition of the previous two years — and even compare Colorado’s current squad to that talent level — it is impossible to see not only the impact that Coach Prime has had on Colorado, but that his son has had on his Buffalo teammates, as well.


Those wanting to see proof of Colorado’s offensive improvement needn’t have looked further than a little north and a little east.

Montana Lemonious-Craig, who had 23 receptions for 359 yards and three scores last year — in other words, one of the Buffaloes’ most productive players — looked like a new man on Saturday.

He had 3 catches for 154 yards and 2 scores, just about half of his regular-season production last year.

His 98-yard touchdown connection with Sanders was a clinic. Sanders uncorked a bomb from deep in the Colorado end zone despite awkward foot position, finding a wide-open Lemonious-Craig, who then stiff-armed a Buff defender en route to the end zone.

Quite simply, if this happened in a game setting, it would’ve been Colorado’s best offensive play in years.

It was just as Coach Prime envisioned when he signed up for the gig. It was also what Shedeur imagined when he signed up to join him. Well, almost; they didn’t really expect the snow.

“Oh my God, this looked crazy,” the younger Sanders told ESPN on the sideline during the fourth quarter, long after his day was done. “Especially this morning? When we came out the whole field was covered in snow. The grounds crew did an amazing job. Something I’ve never seen before — fans packed to the top. For a spring game!”‘


It would have been one thing if Folsom Field was full for a spring game and the Buffaloes had not put on a show. It would have almost been an insult, even.

The Sanderses knew what was on the line on what was nothing short of a transformative day in the history of the program. In fact, if the Colorado offense looked improved on Saturday, it’ll look a lot different come the beginning of fall camp, as the Buffaloes played host to a ton of recruits.

“They coming,” Coach Prime told ESPN. “And it ain’t hard to find. And they’ve already come. Did you see the kids in here today? This has to be one of the biggest recruiting days in the history of Colorado football. I’m ecstatic about it. I can’t wait to get off the field so I can get back up and get back to the recruits. It is not that we’re promising anything or give them anything but opportunity and telling them the truth.”

An opportunity to play with Sanders appears to be just that: An opportunity.

He was brilliant on Saturday, bouncing around the pocket on his toes, darting off for a scramble when needed, including a touchdown scamper, and generally looking exceedingly confident in Sean Lewis’ system. Lewis, who arrived in Boulder after a half-decade as Kent State head coach, drew up some plays to display Sanders’ raw athleticism and arm and it showed.

Again, according to unofficial spring stats, he completed 16-of-19 passes for 234 yards and 2 scores, including a connection with flashy, 2-way, 5-star stud Travis Hunter.

Confidence, above all, was key.

None of Colorado’s three primary quarterbacks last year — J.T. Shrout, Owen McCown nor Brendon Lewis — averaged more than 6 yards per pass. As a whole, the offense combined for just 2,075 passing yards, 5.8 yards per attempt, and a completion percentage below 50 percent.

Sanders showed none of the hesitation the Buffaloes constantly displayed last year.

Like Caleb Williams, he looked settled and poised and ready to lead Colorado to heights unseen in ages.