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Deion Sanders on Cormani McClain's transfer: 'I pray to God he goes to a program that challenges him'

NS_headshot_clearbackgroundby:Nick Schultz04/18/24

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After arriving in Boulder as a key piece of Colorado’s recruiting class last year, Cormani McClain is preparing to take his talents elsewhere. On3’s Hayes Fawcett reported McClain plans to enter the transfer portal after an up-and-down season with the Buffaloes, and head coach Deion Sanders addressed his decision Wednesday.

McClain’s playing time increased as the season went along, and he started Colorado’s last three games. All told, he totaled 13 tackles and two passes defended as a freshman, but will officially hit the portal during the spring window.

Sanders said he hopes McClain ends up in a good situation to not only develop as a football player, but also as a person.

“I’m always in prayer for young men, and I want the best for them,” Sanders told DNVR on Wednesday. “And I pray to God that he goes to a program that challenges him as well as holds him accountable and develops him as a young man. Unfortunately, we weren’t the program that could accomplish that.

“So prayerfully that he understands that this is his second go-around and get it. Go get it, man. Because he has a tremendous amount of talent, but he has to want it.”

More on Cormani McClain’s freshman year at Colorado

McClain didn’t play much to start the season despite arriving at CU as a highly touted recruit. A product of Lakeland High School (Fla.), he was a five-star prospect and the No. 13 overall player from the 2023 cycle, according to the On3 Industry Ranking, a weighted average that utilizes all four major recruiting media companies.

As for how McClain could earn playing time, Sanders said it came down to his preparation and punctuality.

“Study, prepare. Study, prepare, be on time for meetings,” Sanders said in September. “Show up to the darned meetings. Understand what we’re doing as a scheme. Want to play this game. Desire to play this game. Desire to be the best in this game at practice, in the film room and on your own free time.”

McClain was able to flip the script late in the season, though, and become a key contributor. Sanders pointed that out when discussing his starting role down the stretch.

“He’s been a lot more focused,” Sanders said. “A lot more understanding of the expectation and what we want from him — that we’ve challenged him tremendously all year long. He stood up to the task over the last, probably, week and a half.

“I’m really, really proud of Cormani. I really am.”