Buffs bolster CB room with Mcclain
5-star defensive back officially signs NLI with CU
As arguably the greatest cornerback in NFL history, Colorado head coach Deion Sanders is well aware of the value of shutting down elite receivers.
That’s why he and his staff made that a priority in Sanders’ first recruiting class with the Buffaloes.
On Wednesday, the first day of the regular signing period, fivestar cornerback Cormani Mcclain signed his national letter of intent to play for the Buffs.
CU’S 2023 recruiting class also includes five-star transfer cornerback Travis Hunter, who was the No. 1 recruit in the country last year and played for Sanders at Jackson State last season. He transferred to CU last month.
“With Cormani and Travis, it’s the first time CU has signed two five-star players in the same class,” Sanders said during his signing day press conference. “Same position by the way, and both of them are dawgs. I can’t wait to see them play together.”
Mcclain, tabbed a five-star recruit by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com, is ranked as the top cornerback prospect in the country in this class. The 6-foot-2, 165-pounder from Lakeland, Fla., is the first five-star prep recruit to sign with CU since running back Darrell Scott in 2008. Since 2000, CU has signed just four five-stars out of high school: running back Marcus Houston (2000), offensive lineman Ryan Miller (2007), Scott and Mcclain.
Hunter was rated even higher last year, not only as the No. 1 corner, but as the top player in the country. He was considered the top transfer in this year’s class.
“You need elite corners and elite pass rushers from anywhere,” Sanders said. “A lot of coaches build inside-out. I build both ways. I build outside-in when I’m thinking defensively.
“When you’re able to attain a
couple guys of that caliber — not only guys that are really good corners but they make plays on the ball. Both of those guys have tremendous receiver ability and capability.”
On Oct. 27, Mcclain committed to Miami but chose not to sign with the Hurricanes in December. On Jan. 19, he announced he had flipped his commitment to CU so he could play for Sanders, a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
“I play DB, so Coach Prime, he’s the best DB. I just want to be in the same shoes,” Mcclain said about his decision on a video posted by 247Sports.com last month. “Get coached by the best DB? Why not?”
Mcclain, who had 26 scholarship offers, is ranked as the No. 14 overall prospect in the country by 247Sports and No. 18 overall by Rivals.com.
In addition to Hunter and Mcclain, CU has added Tayvion Beasley (Jackson State) and Kydrich Breedlove (Mississippi) as transfers and prep recruit Carter Stoutmire to the cornerback room. CU’S top corner from last year, Nikko Reed, is also slated to return.
That room now starts with Hunter and Mcclain, though, and they are in elite company as the top rated cornerbacks in their class. A look at the most recent No. 1 cornerbacks, since 2014, as rated by 247Sports.com:
2014 — Marlon Humphrey, Alabama: Became a first-team All-american and was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2017 draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Now in his sixth season with the Ravens, he is headed to his third Pro Bowl and was first-team All-pro in 2019.
2015 — Iman Marshall, USC: Earned second-team All-pac-12 honors in 2018. Drafted by the Ravens in the fourth round in 2019. Spent all three years with the Ravens on injured reserve and was waived last summer. He signed with the USFL’S New Jersey Generals last month.
2016 — Levonta Taylor, Florida State: Made 26 starts during an injury-riddled career with the Seminoles. He went undrafted in 2020. Last month, he signed with the USFL’S Michigan Panthers.
2017 — Jeff Okudah, Ohio State: A unanimous first-team All-american and finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in the 2019. He was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 draft by the Detroit Lions. Injuries limited him to 10 total games his first two seasons, but he was a fulltime starter this past season.
2018 — Pat Surtain II, Alabama: A three-year starter and unanimous All-american in 2020, when he was also a finalist for the Thorpe Award. After being named defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl, Surtain was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2021 draft by the Denver Broncos. He made the allrookie team in 2020 was first-team All-pro this season.
2019 — Derek Stingley Jr., LSU: Consensus Allamerican as a freshman, when he led the SEC in interceptions and helped LSU to a national title. He was first-team ALL-SEC in 2019 and 2020, but dealt with injuries in 2021. Last year, he was the No. 3 overall pick in the draft by the Houston Texas. Recorded 43 tackles and an interception as a rookie.
2020 — Kelee Ringo, Georgia: Two-year starter and two-time national champion with the Bulldogs. He earned secondteam ALL-SEC honors this season and then declared for the NFL Draft. He is projected as a first-round pick in this year’s draft.
2021 — Kool-aid Mckinstry, Alabama: He has been a two-year starter for the Crimson Tide and earned All-american honors from various outlets this year. Named to the freshman ALLSEC team in 2021 and firstteam ALL-SEC this year.