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Colorado's Shilo Sanders is on a different trajectory this offseason

The CEO of the Headache Gang is taking workouts very seriously prior to the season

Deion Sanders has often equated each of his children as being a part of what made up his "Prime Time" persona. If Shedeur carries the businessman aspect, then Shilo embodies the personality. Whether it’s the million-dollar smile, the never-ending impressions of Coach Prime, or even being the “life of the party” during press conferences, Shilo, without question, is the next edition of “Prime Time” created by his father.

Sanders is a captivating character who just so happens to be the progeny of arguably the greatest athlete we’ve ever seen. That part shouldn’t be lost as part of the narrative. He's the next generation of the personality and the charisma for Sanders' name.

When looking at legacy athletes, no one ever compares the next wave directly to the legend. It wasn't done with Jeffrey or Marcus Jordan. We’re not doing it to Kiyan Anthony, Arch Manning, Brenden Rice or Marvin Harrison Jr. Despite the media coverage, we aren’t even doing it to Bronny James. Even with as good as Shedeur looks (when he gets more than two seconds to work through progressions), no one is expecting him to be the "Prime Time" of QBs. We know it's wildly unfair and there is very little evidence to suggest that just because the greatest athletes have children that they're going to have "next" in the same sport.

Unless that kid is in the Kobe Bryant or Steph Curry mold. To the point, no one took him seriously when Frank Gore, Jr. said he’s looking to elevate the name Frank Gore. It might happen, but putting those expectations on that child is unfair. Nobody is suggesting that Shilo will ever be true carbon copy of Deion. It’s a very realistic notion that no one will ever meet or exceed. What Coach Prime did for the game of football, and especially for the defensive back position, will likely never be matched.

The offseason for Sanders and the Buffs looks very different from last year. It shouldn't come as a galloping shock. There was a new coaching staff and a wave of transfers who were still getting acclimated to the new surroundings. Another big difference for Sanders was that he finished his degree at Jackson State and wasn’t fully in Boulder until May. There's also the added perspective that this team is coming off a four-win season. Overall, the results and the expectations did not match in 2023. It was a year about making changes, establishing a new culture, and setting the standard. Moving ahead, this year is about exceeding expectations and establishing a dominating approach to winning.

One detail that came up more than a couple times is that Sanders is a really good player, but I "wish he’d take some things more seriously." Often seen as the passionate heartbeat of the defense, the jokester of the team, a fun guy, always engaging, but also not viewed similarly to his younger brother or Travis Hunter, as far as how ‘seriously’ they take the "business of football". That image of Sanders is something working to fix at a rapid rate.

The first real indication of this was the military presence at CU's practice facility. Being objective, Coach Prime is not the first coach to bring in military personnel to assist in conditioning drills. However, he brought them in to help build a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. In those Well Off Media videos, what most people paid attention to was how Hunter and Cormani McClain handled those rigorous workouts. A slightly-less noticed factor was how it did not look so easy for Sanders.

From a draft analyst perspective, the tape for Sanders has a number of objective things that can be deduced. When BuffsBeat reached out to an NFL assistant coach in the NFC West to critique Sanders' game, he was noted as "Not the fastest on the field, but a heavy-hitter who needs to keep his head upright on every play."

Sanders is good in coverage and works well within a "nickel frame" when he's moved up as a blitzer. He absolutely could be a ‘green dot’ guy on defense at the next level, provided he improves in some areas. He'll need to take another step this year, which includes getting faster and stronger while not diminishing the natural athletic ability given to him.

The second and much larger piece of evidence of Sanders' improvements occurred after the soldiers left. He's added a desert tan weighted vest to his side workout regimen. There was a workout standard established last season and this goes above and beyond. Sanders is taking the initiative to build up his speed and strength. He might not be on the top ten list for safeties in 2025's NFL Draft class, but he might start to work his way up as the season rolls on.

Sanders has all the tools and ability to become one of those difference makers on the Buffs defense. He’ll need to forge his own legacy and that has started by taking the "dead period" more seriously. We'll see if betting on himself will pay off in his final collegiate year.