The NFL Draft is just a day away. The excitement for this year’s draft extends to Colorado, as a handful of University of Colorado players are hoping to realize their dreams of playing in the NFL.
The excitement is also building in Boulder for the Colorado Buffaloes of the future. The hiring of NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders as head coach has created massive expectations. Momentum is building much like Ralphie, CU’s famous buffalo, charging onto the field before games.
The excitement of Colorado football was on full display last weekend. A record-setting crowd came out for the annual Black and Gold Day spring game.
Some CU players could find a home with an NFL team this weekend
Colorado online sports betting has also brought more attention to college sports and added to the engagement and excitement for the Buffaloes. Colorado sports fans are extremely passionate for their teams. With sports betting legal in Colorado since May 2020, per capita sports betting in Colorado is among the highest in the US.
There are no Colorado Buffaloes expected to be taken with the top 200 picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, according to Pro Football Focus. There are a total of 259 draft picks scheduled to be made in the 2023 NFL Draft across seven rounds.
A handful of CU players are eligible for the 2023 NFL Draft. If undrafted, some players could be signed by NFL teams as unrestricted free agents and have a chance to work out with the teams to earn a roster spot.
- Terrance Lang (defensive end)
- Alex Fontenot (running back)
- Isaiah Lewis (safety)
- Brady Russell (tight end): Russell came to CU out of Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins.
- Robert Barnes (safety)
- Daniel Arias (wide receiver)
- Quinn Perry (linebacker)
- Guy Thomas (edge rusher)
- Josh Chandler-Semedo (linebacker): Chandler graduated from West Virginia and played one year at Colorado after signing as a graduate transfer through the transfer portal.
- R.J. Sneed II (wide receiver): Sneed played five seasons for Baylor before going into the transfer portal and signing with Colorado as a graduate transfer.
Fans fill up stadium to welcome Coach Prime and future of CU football
The official attendance of 47,277 fans at the Black and Gold Day spring game shattered CU’s previous spring game record by nearly 30,000. Attendance was higher than the Buffs’ last nine spring games combined. That included more than 70 recruits on campus for the game and a national audience tuning in.
And they all came out in support of Colorado football on a cold and snowy afternoon for Coach Prime’s coaching debut at Folsom Field in Boulder.
Saturday was about reigniting CU’s rich football tradition and regaining the support of fans who are hopeful for a rebirth of the team’s glory years in the 1990s.
A number of former CU players and standouts attended the game. Six of them were drafted into the NFL.
- Michael Westbrook
- Kordell Stewart
- Mason Crosby
- Laviska Shenault, Jr.
- David Bakhtiari
- Daniel Graham
They had to be excited about the atmosphere and the stampede of excitement surrounding CU football. That includes for the Buffaloes offense, which will be led by Sanders’ son at quarterback. After the halftime break of the Black and Gold game, Shedeur Sanders connected on a 98-yard TD pass to WR Montana Lemonious-Craig. On the first drive of the game, Shedeur hit his former Jacksonville State teammate and top-rated TE Travis Hunter with a 14-yard touchdown strike.
Deion Sanders commented during the ESPN telecast that he believes Hunter could be a top-5 NFL Draft pick on either offense or defense (CB) in 2025.
Surprisingly, 18 players entered the college transfer portal on Monday after the game. They included Lemonious-Craig, who finished the game with 154 yards. Some hoped the national exposure would land them spots on higher-profile teams. Others were told by coaches that they wouldn’t make the CU team.
Future of college football is solid in Colorado
While there won’t be many CU players drafted by the NFL this year, that could change in the future. The buzz created by Sanders has turned the national spotlight on Colorado football. It could also help other college football teams in Colorado.
A national audience will certainly tune in on Sept. 16 when the Rocky Mountain Showdown between CU and in-state rival Colorado State returns to Boulder. While no CU players were picked in the 2022 NFL Draft (for the first time since 2016), former Colorado State Rams star Trey McBride was a second-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals last year.
This year, there are just two CSU prospects for the NFL Draft. Both are linebackers.
- Cam’Ron Carter
- Dequan Jackson