Shedeur Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes started the 2023 college football season scorching hot. They won their first three games of the season against TCU, Nebraska, and Colorado State. They were the story in college football. Now, Sanders will miss their season finale against Utah, and the team has lost seven of their past eight games.
Will Sanders return to the team in 2024, or will this injury scare change how he feels about declaring for the NFL?
Shedeur Sanders OUT vs. Utah
Colorado’s center snapped the ball early last week against Washington State in the second quarter, and a WSU defender landed hard on Sanders’ back.
Earlier in the game, he was hit hard by Ron Stone Jr. He left the field holding his arm close to his chest. The second-quarter hit ended his day.
Colorado snaps the ball with Shedeur not ready, and he’s shaken up again. pic.twitter.com/SF6qprYmmp
— Ian Valentino (@NFLDraftStudy) November 18, 2023
Sanders set a school record with his 3,230 passing yards. Doing so behind the Buffaloes’ consistently overwhelmed offensive line was an impressive feat. He also threw 27 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions and has been looked at as a potential top-50 draft pick at times throughout the season.
Will his injury scare influence his NFL decision this offseason? Although his father and coach, Deion Sanders, appears rather cutthroat with his sons, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t provide them a safety net should they need one. In other words, the family’s financial stability likely makes remaining in school a more realistic option. NIL certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
Neither backup has looked particularly impressive in relief of Sanders this season. Ryan Staub is 6 of 16 for 59 yards, and Gavin Kuld is 1 of 3 for 22 yards and an INT. Staub was a three-star prospect from West Ranch in Stevenson Ranch, CA. The true freshman has been seen as the team’s backup all season.
In other words, if Colorado has any hope for the 2024 season, it likely falls on the currently injured right shoulder of Sanders. They have little hope of competing against Utah without him.
Should Shedeur Sanders Declare for the NFL Draft?
It’s impossible to sit here and definitively proclaim in either direction. It’s an intimate situation between Sanders and his family; we neither know his motivations nor how the NFL currently covets him as a quarterback prospect.
From a 30,000-foot view, it would make a lot of sense to declare. Sanders has legitimate NFL talent. From the moment he started playing in 2023, shades of Geno Smith were clear to see. He’s a naturally accurate passer who, while athletic, would rather win from within the pocket.
But this is an incredibly congested quarterback class. The top two passers are seemingly locked in. Bo Nix and Jayden Daniels are Heisman-caliber players with starting NFL traits and a ton of experience. Carson Beck is surging, and Michael Penix has had an incredible season in the Pac-12.
At the same time, the potential of a serious injury always looms large for returning talents like Sanders. This recent injury scare could provide a perspective change.
Staying Could Change the Buffaloes’ Trajectory
Announcing his commitment to Colorado for 2024 could do a lot for Deion and the rest of the staff in the transfer portal. The roster still needs a ton of help in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Colorado has proven they don’t mind diving into the portal, and veteran college players could lean toward the Buffaloes specifically to play with Sanders.
Staying or leaving could be the difference between being competitive in the Big 12 and being a four-win team again. High school recruiting may not be affected by his decision, but there are a lot of wide receivers out there like Adonis Mitchell looking for an opportunity to play with a high-level passer.
But can his gravity pull in offensive linemen from across the country?