Colorado head coach Deion Sanders has made a splash in his three games leading a program that won a single game last season but is now suddenly the talk of college football.
Sanders, an avowed Christian, has gotten a lot of attention specifically in regard to the ways in which he motivates his players.
“Coach Prime” said he inspired one of his young wide receivers in order to encourage him to hit another gear during the Buffaloes’ game against in-state rival Colorado State on Saturday, a 43-35 victory in double overtime.
Sanders told Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks that he reminded junior wideout Jimmy Horn during the game that the young man’s father was in prison, watching with other inmates, and was waiting for him to make a big play.
Horn was having a “horrendous” night, Sanders said. After a dropped pass in the third quarter, he hugged the young man and reassured him.
— Tanner Phifer (@TannerPhiferNFL) September 17, 2023
The Buffs couldn’t find a spark without two-way star Travis Hunter, who had been injured.
With about a minute to play in the game, Colorado was down 28-20.
Not only did they need to score quickly, but they also needed a 2-point conversion for any hope of going into overtime for a chance to win.
Sanders told Rooks he pulled aside Horn, who is from Sanford, Florida, and had a very personal conversation with him.
“We had an instance on the sideline this last game with Jimmy was having a horrific game,” the coach said. “He’s a receiver — Jimmy Horn. And I said, ‘Jimmy, you’re a dog. You from Florida, man. And guess what? Pop is at the crib and he’s incarcerated watching you right now. He wants to clap in front of all his different inmates because he believes in his son.
“‘We gonna make pops proud tonight. That’s what we gonna to do, because his son is a dog.'”
The pep talk concluded when he told Horn, “Now you go out there and show the world who you are.”
Horn caught a touchdown pass that set up his team for a successful conversion.
Colorado TD from Horn pic.twitter.com/SR0DXKpEz8
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Two overtimes later, Colorado walked away with a win to remain undefeated.
Horn, a University of South Florida transfer, has not publicly commented on the catch, the talk or his father’s status as an inmate — or indicated whether that was something he would have rather his coach keep between them.
But it appears whatever “Coach Prime” said to the young man calmed his nerves and gave him something personal to fight for.
Thousands of people were watching Horn play in the stands and millions more were watching at home. It’s difficult to imagine that kind of pressure. Sanders helped cool him down to playing for an audience of one — his father.
What the NFL Hall of Famer said to Horn seemed to spark something deep inside of him. What Sanders is doing so far for his team is working. His unorthodox leadership methods have gotten the attention of everyone from atheists to college football purists.
In January, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent his employer a letter that demanded he stop “infusing his program with Christianity.”
He has ignored the letter and has doubled down on teaching young men to be men.
On the topic of reaching his players last week, Sanders criticized a world that lies to them.
“I think truth is good for the kids. We’re so busy lying we don’t even recognize the truth no more in society,” he said on CBS’ “60 Minutes.” “We want everybody to feel good. That’s not the way life is.”
When he tapped the transfer portal to overhaul his team’s roster in the offseason, others complained. But the coach is operating within the parameters of new rules.
Sanders brings a unique and personal element to coaching that has shown up on the field three weeks in a row. However unconventional he might be, he keeps finding ways to will his team to win.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.