“I Attract The Type Of Player That Wants To Be Great” – Deion Sanders Won’t Spring For Huge NIL Deals

Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders

The Wild West and warped world of college football’s NIL arms race and transfer portal sent the greatest coach of all-time at the NCAA level, Nick Saban, to sudden retirement. Well, that and the fact that Saban runs more than a little hot, and he is 72 years old.

Colorado coach Deion Sanders is still rather new to the scene when it comes to big-time college football, but he’s fully embraced the transfer portal. In fact, he turned over the vast majority of the Buffaloes’ roster for the 2023 season with many of his players from Jackson State and myriad others from all across the country.

However, Coach Prime isn’t in the business of forking over massive NIL money to land top recruits via a pseudo-free agency bidding war. He sells players on the promise of a bright future, whether that entails playing in the NFL or not.

“I don’t attract that type of player. I attract the type of player that wants to be great. That understands he has a window of opportunity, and he has to have a commitment to excellence. There are players who are playing for a bag, which growing up in their environment, you can’t blame. You can’t fault them.

If you’re going to give up a bag, you’re going to have players playing for a bag. So I do understand it. I may not condone if that’s your focus, because I’ve always thought, if you just focus on being great, the bag is going to find you.”

Coach Prime made waves recently when he shared a professor’s email about some of his players not staying on task in the classroom. He scolded those student-athletes and pointed out how none of them had NFL Draft grades. Meanwhile, Deion’s son/star quarterback Shedeur and wideout/cornerback hybrid Travis Hunter are apparently setting a good example on and off the field to avoid being called out. They also have very real NFL futures, with Deion explaining that he’ll only allow Shedeur and Hunter to play for certain teams.

Until Shedeur and Hunter make it to the pros and thrive, a lot of what Coach Prime is talking about from a recruiting standpoint is all built on a leap of faith. He made Colorado football instantly relevant, and they were exciting amid a fast start last season, however, the bottom eventually fell out, Shedeur got lit up behind a terrible offensive line, and defensive back Shilo Sanders and Hunter were the only real bright spots on a porous Buffaloes defense.

It’s going to take some major reinforcements and massive promises from Coach Prime for Colorado to substantially improve on its 4-8 record. If anyone can get the job done at the helm of an ascending program, Deion feels like the right man for the job. When it comes to how he compares to Saban, for a long time, the Alabama coach had built such a powerhouse and NFL factory in Tuscaloosa over so many years that 5-star prospects would have the Crimson Tide on their short list without a second thought.

You can tell Coach Prime fully believes in his vision, and that top recruits will come play for him in increasing numbers inthe coming years without exorbitant NIL price tags up front. Just look at the mantra on the wall behind his desk.

“You look good, you feel good. You feel good, you play good. You play good, they pay good!”

True in theory, but what if Georgia, Ohio State and Texas caliber of programs just keep trucking along, paying truckloads for the best recruits, and keep on winning? Gonna be hard to compete.

With the wildly increased mobility brought about by the transfer portal, it’ll likely take Deion far longer to build a Saban-esque foundation with the Buffaloes, despite all of the accomplishments on his resume as a Hall of Fame NFL player. Will Deion have the patience for it? Or will he be able to find enough young men who trust him enough to see his vision through, and accept whatever role comes to them — even if it’s not what they’d hoped for upon their initial commitment? Only time will tell.

All I know is, once Shedeur and Hunter bolt for the 2025 NFL Draft, Deion faces a major uphill battle for Colorado’s program to maintain whatever level it reaches in 2024, never mind getting better from there. If Shedeur doesn’t emerge as a surefire top-five pick, that struggle will be even more severe.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock