April 18, 2024

Just in: 5 biggest gets for Colorado in the transfer portal

Coach Prime went all-in on the transfer portal this offseason, but of the 23 incoming transfers, FanSided college football writer Josh Yourish expects these five to be the most important and have the biggest impact in 2024.

By now, everyone knows how Coach Prime operates. He’s not interested in high school players and only signed six in the class of 2024. The six players he’s brought in should help early in their careers, but Colorado builds its roster through the transfer portal.

Colorado Buffaloes Football Preview 2021 - The Ralphie Report

Last offseason, the Buffaloes added 51 transfers in a total roster overhaul. It wasn’t as drastic this year, but with 23 additions, Colorado was the third busiest team in the portal, only behind Louisville and Texas A&M.

That group of 23 players will give Coach Prime a chance to improve on the 4-8 record he posted in his debut as a Power Five head coach. With a move to the Big 12, Colorado has a chance to be competitive with a quality quarterback, a dynamic two-way star, a five-star freshman left tackle, and these incoming five transfers.

It’s incredible that Travis Hunter could play both sides of the football and finish the season with 57 catches for 721 yards and five touchdowns, but when your best wide receiver is actually a cornerback that’s not good news for your offense.

Now, the Buffs will have a true No. 1 receiver because Will Sheppard is the best true wideout on the roster. In 2023 at Vanderbilt, catching passes from AJ Swann and Ken Seals who are far from Shedeur Sanders, he racked up 684 yards and eight touchdowns on 47 catches.

Sheppard did have nine drops last year, but that is a huge jump from 2022 and not who he is as a player. What he is at his best is a deep threat with real speed at 6-foot-3. Half of his targets came over 10 yards downfield he made 14 of 29 contest catch opportunities last year.

With top receiver, Xavier Weaver out of college eligibility, Coach Prime will need to add multiple targets for Sanders to throw to. The 6-foot-5 250-pound Cincinnati transfer caught 23 passes for 258 yards and five touchdowns in a very run-heavy Cincinnati offense.

Metayer took about 200 snaps as a run blocker in 2023, but his best ability is as a pass-catcher, specifically over the middle of the field. He caught 23 of his 30 targets and was nine for 11 on targets between the numbers. That’s a perfect fit with Shedeur.

In 2023, 27.4% of Sanders’ attempts came between the numbers and within nine yards of the line of scrimmage. He completed 86.6% of those passes for 925 yards, nine touchdowns, and no interceptions. His second most common area of the field to throw to was the intermediate middle, between the numbers and 10-19 yards downfield where he completed 75% of his passes, but would have been 40/50 if not for five drops.

Metayer will quickly become Sanders’ favorite target and a security blanket for the Buffs’ second-year starting quarterback.

Colorado’s offensive line issues were well-documented last season. Shedeur Sanders was the second most pressured quarterback in the country at 194, only behind Hawaii’s Brayden Schrager. Sanders was also sacked the second most time because of his 25.3% pressure-to-sack ratio which is 25th worst in the country.

The left tackle spot was the biggest need on the line after Gerad Christian-Lichtenhan allowed 42 pressures last season, but that was addressed with the addition of five-star recruit Jordan Seaton. So, Coach Prime looked to upgrade the interior of his line in the transfer portal.

Johnson only allowed 10 pressures while playing 661 snaps at left guard for Houston last year. He may have the best pass-blocking offensive guard on the market this offseason, but if not, Colorado also got the one who is.

If Johnson wasn’t the best pass-blocking guard on the market, then it was Mayers who played 810 snaps at left guard for UTEP and only allowed eight pressures and just one sack. In 2022 Mayers played even more with 844 snaps and just seven pressures allowed.

Travis Hunter injury changes Colorado Buffaloes depth chart vs. Oregon -  The Ralphie Report

Those stats came at a lower level than the Big 12, but Mayers is a great pass-blocker and very strong in the run game on the inside. Both Johnson and Mayers primarily play left guard, so one of the two will need to flip around to the right side, but that shouldn’t be an issue.

Whether it’s Mayers or Johnson flipping to right guard, it will be a massive upgrade for the line. On runs between the right guard and right tackle last year, Colorado rushers averaged 2.3 yards per carry in 22 attempts, the lowest yards per carry average of any spot along the offensive line.

Colorado needed to get more talent and more depth in the trenches, but that’s not just on offense. The Buffaloes were 100th in yards per carry allowed at 4.7, finished 110th in rushing defense, and averaged 2.3 sacks per game which was 44th in the nation.

Last season as a redshirt freshman, the 6-foot-4 245-pound edge rusher generated 12 pressures and five sacks at Pitt. However, he wasn’t entirely efficient in his 130 pass-rush snaps.

Okunlola’s pass-rush win rate was just 5% which was 684th among defensive linemen with at least 100 pass-rush snaps. He has a high upside and unlike many of the players in the transfer portal, he has three years of eligibility left.

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