Bryce Underwood is a high school quarterback from Belleville, Mich., just outside of Detroit. He is a 6-foot-3 junior who, for a couple years now, has been considered by recruiting services to be the No. 1 quarterback, if not No. 1 overall recruit, in the Class of 2025.
The recruiting battle for him, until this week at least, centered on a few obvious choices.
Nearby Michigan has made him a priority. He took a “junior day” trip to Penn State. He and his family have made unofficial visits to SEC powers Alabama and LSU to meet Nick Saban and Brian Kelly, respectively. A national outlier, Oregon, remains in the running.
Most recruiting gurus had it shaping up to be a battle between Michigan and LSU.
Then came last Saturday — when Coach Prime, Shadeur Sanders, Travis Hunter and the Colorado Buffaloes delivered an electrifying, on- and off-the-field, 45-42 victory at TCU.
Colorado had initially offered Underwood a scholarship back in January. After Shadeur Sanders threw for 510 yards and four touchdowns though, suddenly Underwood was on the phone with Prime himself this week.
“It was very exciting to have my first conversation [with Deion Sanders],” Underwood told 247Sports. “It was good to have my first conversation with him. Just him letting me know he wanted me there and to lead them to a national championship was exciting to hear.”
Just like that, Colorado entered the chat.
And this was not just a chat either, a courtesy to, or curiosity in, talking to a Pro Football Hall of Famer. The Underwoods are serious enough about CU that they tried to arrange a flight to see Colorado’s home opener against Nebraska this weekend. The schedule didn’t work, so they are going to Boulder for the USC game on Sept. 30.
“Prime is a legend,” said Bryce’s father, Jaquan Underwood. “When I was a kid I wanted to be like Prime. I played corner. Having that guy on the other end talking to my son, it was surreal.
“We really like Colorado.”
None of this means Underwood is suddenly certain to sign with CU. Recruiting is always tough. It does show how a single game might have flipped everything around, though.
If Underwood does wind up in Boulder, he would have the chance to throw to the Class of 2025’s top receivers in Winston Watkins, Jr., who hails from Deion Sanders’ hometown of Fort Myers, Florida, and committed within days of Sanders getting the Buffs job.
“I was happy everyone got to see what I believed in: Deion is a winner,” Watkins told Rivals.com
Then there is top-100 offensive lineman Jordan Seaton, who has Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma and South Carolina as his main choices, but told ON3 that Colorado assistants have been working on him and he is hoping to speak with Sanders.
“They’ve got a shot, they always got a shot,” Seaton said. “It’s Prime, you can’t say no.”
Sanders famously remade the CU roster, coming off a 1-11 season, by using the transfer portal, bringing in at least 51 players. Colorado was arguably the worst Power Five team in the country last year, losing its 11 games by an average of 32.4 points a game.
He’s repeatedly stated that he expects to only recruit a select number of high schoolers because getting proven and older players out of the portal is smarter. Colorado has just nine verbal commits from the Class of 2024.
“Why would you take the chance [on a high school kid] when you already have a plethora of kids who have been to college, made the adjustment and you know what’s wrong with them or what’s right with them?” Sanders told Barstool’s “Pardon My Take.”
Five stars, however, are different. And they appear to be listening. That might be because Sanders speaks differently than other coaches, both in style and substance.
“Everybody pitches they want Bryce to take the keys to their offense,” Jaquan Underwood said. “They think he’s a guy to back up or be mentored by Shedeur.”
Shedeur Sanders is a junior and would be out of eligibility by the time Underwood arrived in Boulder, but the point is the same. Nothing promised, other than the opportunity to work.
It clearly hits differently coming from Deion Sanders.
One week in and the top quarterback of the Class of 2025 is reorganizing his fall schedule to get out for a game. Top-100 recruits are hoping to get a phone call. No one seems to care about Colorado’s lackluster recent history or remote location.
Coach Prime is Coach Prime, and it appears he may be just getting started.