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CU Buffs freshman OT Jordan Seaton on revamped offensive line protecting Shedeur Sanders: “This year’s going to be different”

BOULDER — Amid last year’s nosedive to 4-8 that saw the CU Buffs go winless over the last six weeks of the season, Deion Sanders called out his struggling offensive line and vowed to rebuild it this offseason.

Coach Prime did just that, dipping into the transfer portal and the high school ranks to re-fortify a leaky front that allowed his son and starting quarterback, Shedeur Sanders, to get sacked 52 times.

The toll of all of those hits? A fractured back that left the younger Sanders unable to play the final six quarters of the season.

“You know you’ve got to overdress yourself if you’re not handsome,” Deion Sanders said. “You’ve got to cause a diversion and highlight yourself in other places. That’s what we did (with the offense in 2023), but sooner or later, they found our flaws. Tremendous flaws. But we feel as though we addressed a multitude of needs (including the offensive line).”

While Shedeur Sanders says he feels “110%” at the start of spring ball, he now has a more formidable offensive line in front of him.

The highlight of the new-look O-line is freshman Jordan Seaton, who signed with the Buffs as the No. 1 high school tackle in the country. The unit also has a new coach in Phil Loadholt, a Fountain-Fort Carson grad who played for Oklahoma and the Vikings.

Beyond Seaton, the Buffs also re-stocked with Kahlil Benson (an Indiana transfer who started 12 games at right tackle last year), Tyler Johnson (a two-year starter at Houston), Justin Mayers (a two-year starter at UTEP) and Yakiri Walker (UConn’s starting center last year).

Those additions will compete with notable returners up front such as guard Tyler Brown (an FCS All-American at guard for Sanders at Jackson State in 2022), Savion Washington (started 10 games at right tackle last year) and Cherry Creek product Hank Zilinskas (who will likely compete for the starting center job).

Seaton said watching film of last year’s offensive line was “kind of horrific,” but “this year’s going to be different.” Shedeur Sanders echoed that confidence and believes the blue-chip recruit is ready to step into a starting role this fall.

“Jordan showed me that he’s ready,” Shedeur Sanders said. “And he’s showed me a lot that I didn’t expect from him (so far). He’s young and he’s going to have growing pains. …. But he’s definitely a generational player.”

After Shedeur set an array of records in his first season in Boulder — including CU single-season marks for highest completion percentage (69.3%) and most passing yards (3,230) — the quarterback knows he still has plenty of room to grow ahead of the Buffs’ opener on Aug. 31 against North Dakota State.

Namely, he’s focused on taking fewer sacks, which means not holding onto the ball for too long on certain plays.

“It’s the small (improvements) that’s needed, because that’s the difference between wins and losses, and I need to have better decision-making overall,” Shdeur said.

Even with Shedeur’s roller-coaster season in his first year at the FBS level, Coach Prime believes his son would’ve gone as the No. 2 QB in next month’s NFL Draft had he declared, behind USC’s Caleb Williams.

Their desire for him to be the No. 1 QB off the board in next year’s draft, coupled with what Shedeur described as unfinished business in Boulder, resulted in his decision to return to the college ranks.

“Shedeur would’ve been a high draft pick this year, so let’s stop the foolishness,” Deion Sanders said. “Don’t you think I know people in the NFL? Played 14 years in the NFL. Got a gold jacket at the crib, I think. I know people — the Jerry Joneses, Arthur Blanks, Roger Goodell. … When I throw that (projection) out there, it’s based on knowledge.”

For Shedeur’s draft stock to rise to that level ahead of April 2025, he knows his play this year is tied to the blockers in front of him amid CU’s move to the Big 12.

“(I told the new linemen), ‘You guys are going to be in the perfect scenario for this year because you have to understand the narrative for last year was that the offensive line wasn’t so good,’” Shedeur Sanders said. “So they have a strict light on them, and not everybody’s built for that. I think (this group is).”

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