Travis Hunter teased. Blake Purchase went quiet. Under Coach Prime, CU Buffs football signing days will never be the same.


If CU Buffs fans want to know which college football program he’s joining next year, Gabe Sawchuk promises this much: He won’t make them sign up for his video feed first.

“Probably not,” the Valor Christian running back and’s No. 1 in-state recruit for the Class of ’24, told me Wednesday night, somewhere in between my 256th and 257th refresh of Travis Hunter’s YouTube page. “It’s just crazy.”

Crazy? It’s certifiable Looney Tunes. The first day of Deion Sanders’ first early National Signing Day period as Buffs coach followed the script for about six hours before things went off the rails.

At around 1 p.m. Denver time, ex-Jackson State star Travis Hunter, the 5-star jewel in Coach Prime’s recruiting crown, posted on Twitter a link to his YouTube feed, which had 71,600 subscribers.

“At 100K subscribers, I’m announcing my commitment,” he wrote.

By about 5 p.m. Mountain time, he’d nailed that 100,000 mark, racking up approximately 30,000 subscribers in roughly four hours.

As of 6 p.m., all those subscribers were still waiting for said announcement. 7 p.m.? Nope. 8 p.m.? Nada.

Finally, just before 9 p.m., Hunter did a little hat dance and made it official: He’s coming to CU.

I mean, from a branding perspective, it was pure genius: says that YouTubers with 100,000 subscribers “can make between $600-$1,000 per week,” depending on ads and partnerships.

From a CU perspective, though? Borderline torture.

“We’ve gone from essentially not having a bunch of Internet (feeds) or a bunch of social media, to now, kids everywhere having an identity on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to use as a tool,” mused Sawchuk, younger brother of former Denver Post Gold Helmet winner and current Oklahoma tailback Gavin Sawchuk. “And at the same time, a tool for getting yourself out there and being able to have coaches see you, just being able to put yourself out there as an athlete.

“But it could also be a hindrance. And everybody knows, obviously, there’s been bad examples on social media and on the Internet as well. It’s all just how you use it.”

Nobody uses it the way Coach Prime does. And as National Signing Days go, Wednesday was unlike any in recent CU history.

Normally, coaches hold a news conference with local media to share the spoils of their labor, talk about kids they couldn’t talk about before, and spin ahead to either the bowl game or spring practices to come.

Up in Fort Collins, CSU largely went by the book. Not Coach Prime. The Buffs offered no formal media access. Players who made up Sanders’ first recruiting class were announced via CU’s social media feeds and cataloged on the athletic department’s web site.

There were the expected locks (Shedeur Sanders, a Jackson State transfer, walks into the inside track at QB1; 4-star Kansas speedster Dylan Edwards). A few pleasant surprises (4-star wideout Adam Hopkins out of Georgia; 3-star Texas safety Jade Milliner-Jones). And, by dinner time, some intriguing loose ends.

Blake Purchase, the state’s top recruit for the Class of ’23 and an Oregon commit since September, hadn’t officially signed with the Ducks by sundown of the period’s first day. Could one of the region’s best pass-rushers be tempted to flip on the mighty Ducks?

The Cherry Creek standout admitted he was intrigued by the idea of playing for Coach Prime in Boulder before it became official. Purchase respectfully declined to comment on his college plans when I’d texted him earlier in the week and hadn’t returned a follow-up missive as of early Wednesday evening. Divine what you will.

As for next year’s top in-state recruit, Sawchuk — who was offered by the Buffs in September 2021 — said he hasn’t heard directly from Coach Prime. But in addition to weighing offers from USC, Arizona State and UNC, he remains in close contact with CU great and longtime Buffs staffer Darian Hagan.

“It’s cool to see CU get a guy like Coach Prime,” Sawchuk said. “(The Buffs) needed it, so it’s really exciting to see a guy such as Coach Prime come up there and possibly have a chance to change their program.”

With Hunter, faithful kept pounding those refresh buttons. For all the drama, the kid already looks darn good in gold. He also might’ve even given the Sawchuk brothers more than a little slice of inspiration when it comes to their own future branding.

“Not necessarily a channel, but maybe developing a bigger social media platform,” Gabe reflected. “It can help. And as much as it’s not really my style, it probably is a better idea for both (myself and Gavin) to kind of get more out there.”

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