BOULDER — Russell Wilson will curse in a kindergarten class before Deion Sanders rides into the Flatirons to rescue CU football.
But you know who COULD save the Buffs?
Jordyn Tyson. If you can keep him.
If you can get him healthy again. And then keep him.
“Looks like a lower leg injury,” CU interim coach Mike Sanford, who apparently can’t have nice things, sighed after the Buffs got stomped 49-10 by No. 8 Oregon — and that wasn’t even the worst news of the day.
“(Tyson is) with our medical team right now … our thoughts are going to continue to be with him.”
With 10:07 left in a 39-point game Saturday, one of the last good reasons remaining to watch the Buffs’ November death march couldn’t put any weight on his left leg.
It seems as if No. 4 can catch everything these days, except a break. A 6-foot-2 freshman out of Allen, Texas, Tyson’s day ended after five catches, 137 receiving yards, an 81-yard touchdown, a mid-air shot that drew a targeting call, followed by a gruesome lower-body injury that occurred not long after he’d returned from the locker room.
Which begs the question as to why you’d risk putting your best offensive player, who’s already been dinged once, back into the line of fire during a five-score game. When asked that question, Sanford said it was green-lit by the CU medical staff and by the young man himself.
“There really wasn’t a (coaching) decision to try to put (him) back in the game,” Sanford stressed. “Jordyn was cleared medically … he wanted to go back and play. And that’s who Jordyn Tyson is.”
You know what else he is? An honest-to-goodness, freaking star. Kid’s a tall, long-strider who runs like the wind. He’s only the second true freshman in CU football history, joining Paul Richardson (2010), to post multiple 100-yard receiving games in the same season.
For the last three weeks, he’s also been the primary bright spot as another lost season for the Buffs (1-8, 1-5 Pac-12) fades back into oblivion. Against Oregon State, Arizona State and Oregon, all losses, No. 4’s averaged four catches and 115 receiving yards.
For the season, his five touchdowns, four receiving and one on a punt return, have come on an average of 51.6 yards per score. On an offense that lacks home-run threats at nearly every spot in the lineup, he’s the one slugger Sanford can count on in a pinch.
Basically, Tyson is ex-CU wunderkind Brenden Rice without the family pedigree. Or the endorsements. And speaking of …
“I think not only the NIL space, but also just as a community, (we need) to wrap our arms around a guy like him,” Sanford said of Tyson. “Because he really is what this program is going to trend towards: Just players like that that we identify early.”
For the most part, CU has identified them. In some cases, they’ve even done a recent job of developing them. But none of that means a hill of beans if you can’t keep ‘em.
Whomever gets this coaching job full-time needs to get that, too. First and foremost.
Retention is the new recruiting. The 1-2 punch of the transfer portal and Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) bidding wars makes every young player, including the cream of your roster, a potential free agent.
The Ducks (8-1, 5-0) aren’t just turning up to run you ragged for three hours. They’re also scouting your best guys, up close and personal. Young men see cornerback Christian Gonzalez leave CU, then come back to Folsom Field on Saturday and rack up two picks for a top-10 team, and get stars in their eyes.
Can you imagine what boy-wonder Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham — whose Ducks scored touchdowns Saturday by throwing to an offensive tackle, throwing to a quarterback and handing off to a linebacker — could do with a kid who has Tyson’s skill set?
More to the point, could you fathom how much fun a CU offense might look with Dillingham, who’s creeping onto short lists for the vacant Arizona State and Buffs jobs, calling the shots?
“Coach Dillingham does a good job of doing unique things that get all sorts of guys in (the) open field,” said Oregon QB Bo Nix, who scored passing, throwing and receiving. “(That’s) why (he) makes it so creative, makes it so dynamic and hard to read.”
Hey, don’t get me wrong. Sanders would be dynamic here, too. Could you envisage Neon and Nederland? Prime Time and Pine Brook Hill?
“Being able to play for Deion Sanders would be a dream come true, I’m not going to lie,” CU linebacker Josh Chandler-Semedo told me early Saturday night, grinning at the prospect.
“You have that much NFL knowledge, you have that much experience … by having him as your coach, you’ve kind of got a little gateway. Especially if you’re a player where you consider yourself to be (an NFL prospect), having Deion in your pocket basically helps.”
ESPN’s Andscape reported Friday that CU and Georgia Tech have shown “strong interest” in Sanders, who’s posted an 8-0 record at Jackson State and is 19-2 over the last two seasons. At 55, Coach Prime is on the cusp of a Power 5 job … in the SEC or ACC.
College football is a game of fast-trading now. Oregon reportedly added 21 transfers and hasn’t skipped a beat. No matter how hard I try, I can’t picture Neon Deion and CU chancellor Phil DiStefano getting on the same page when it comes academic credits and qualifications. Let alone the same textbook.