The Colorado Buffaloes caught everyone’s attention with their upset victory over the 17th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs. Deion Sanders has come in from Jackson State and turned over almost the entire CU roster. It appears to be working, due in no small part to the players he brought with him from the FCS ranks, specifically QB Shedeur Sanders and two-way star Travis Hunter.
Both were phenomenal in that game, but it’s Hunter who did something that is unprecedented in modern football. We’ve seen two-way players before, but this man played 126 snaps (!) at receiver and cornerback, racking up 11 catches for 119 yards, an interception and two pass breakups, and a touchdown-saving tackle. His clutch play made all the difference and that doesn’t even include two spectacular catches he made out-of-bounds. After just one game, it’s clear the Coach Prime has brought a generational talent to Boulder.
Travis Hunter is Him
Hunter is not a secret. He was the #1 recruit in the 2022 high school recruiting class. He was the #1 WR and the #1 CB. Everyone expected him to go to Florida State where he would become their next Deion Sanders. But he surprised everyone by putting on the Jackson State hat, a move that legitimized Coach Prime’s project at the HBCU level. Noles fan had an online cry session to lament their loss of a generational talent.
Surprising no one, Hunter dominated as a true freshman. He didn’t play nearly as many snaps, but there was no questioning who was the best player on the field when he was on. If you haven’t watched his performance in the Celebration Bowl, please do. He blanketed NC Central’s best receiver, made big plays on both sides of the ball, including a nasty post route that dusted his man, and then forced overtime with a last-second touchdown catch with two guys on him.
He has everything you want in a star WR and CB — 6’2 with long arms, short-area quickness, long speed, great skills on the ball. And more than anything else, he’s got the instincts and confidence needed to be a star.
Travis Hunter said it before the season and Deion has packed him up the whole time — the man wants to him the Heisman Trophy. “Heisman Loading — that’s my goal I’m reaching,” Hunter said on Bleacher Report. “Sometimes you gotta put your goals out there and let everybody know what you’re reaching.”
You can’t play both sides of the ball without his ability and confidence. He knows he’s the most athletic and most talented player on the field. He knows he can just do things no one else can. Just watch his interception against TCU.
The Frogs have the ball inside the 5 and he’s guarding the outside receiver. His man goes inside and the QB is locked in on the wide open running back in the flat. Hunter sees it, baits the QB into the throw, and then apparates to the ball for the diving interception. There are few players in the NFL who can make that play on the ball, let alone secure the catch. Even fewer have the confidence to actually do it, especially in a close game where a single mistake can lose the game.
That play had NFL scouts drooling. He looks like Deion Sanders there, who himself was known for baiting QBs into mistakes. Of course Hunter is at CU learning from the GOAT and of course Coach Prime was yelling in his ear “WHAT?! WHAT?!” while hyping up his early-season Heisman campaign. The CU fans behind were in shock that this is the type of player we now have at a program that hit rock bottom and dug even deeper.
No less than five minutes later, Hunter made another clutch play on the offensive side of the ball, hauling in a contested catch on a do-or-die 3rd-and-16. The Buffs don’t win without his interception and they don’t win without that catch. The difference between these teams was pure talent, which is insane to think about in a game between the national runners up and a team that went 1-11 last season. But that’s what Deion has accomplished and that’s what players like Shedeur and Travis have brought to Colorado.
What’s next for Hunter?
It’s probably unsustainable for Hunter to play 126 snaps per game. The hope is that it’s not needed. The Buffs won’t play against a team as up-tempo as the Frogs. They probably won’t play such intense games where a single play could decide the outcome. My guess is that he plays heavy snaps at CB, while rotating on the offensive side, playing more snaps the closer the game.
The Buffs shouldn’t have any issues scoring, not with Shedeur throwing to Xavier Weaver, Jimmy Horn Jr. and a few other talented receivers who didn’t shine quite as brightly as these 100-yard receivers. Hunter will be the guy when he’s on the field, he just won’t be running decoy fly routes for his teammates to get open underneath. And he’s going to secure some of those catches he didn’t hang onto.
Cornerback is probably the position he plays most at the NFL level. He’s going to make a ton of money regardless, but his athleticism, skills and confidence would make him a truly rare prospect on that side of the ball. He’s going to play both sides in the NFL, but there will be questions about how many hits his skinny frame can absorb, and whether or not he’s too valuable a corner to wear down. But that’s an NFL problem.
For the next two season, college football fans get to have our Shohei Ohtani. He’s a two-way megastar who deserves every bit of attention and recognition, regardless of how many games his team wins. If he keeps playing like this, keeps making clutch plays to win the Buffs more games than expected, he just might take that Heisman back to his crib.