In the spring, Colorado running back Alex Fontenot was asked if he had seen a film about the transfer of Ramon Jefferson, who is expected to join the team in the summer.
“I don’t pay attention to new recruits,” said Fontenot.
Good thing, because Jefferson isn’t coming to CU after all.
On Friday, Jefferson, a former Sam Houston running back and one of CU’s top offseason transfer recruits, announced he’s retired from the Buffs and will play elsewhere in his final year of eligibility.
Jefferson, who is expected to compete with Fontenot for the starting job, previously signed for Colorado in January and signed a scholarship. A grant is binding on the school but not on the student-athlete until they enroll in the school, so Jefferson could still be recruited from other teams when he finished his senior year with Sam Houston.
CU recruited Jefferson after losing star Jarek Broussard, who transferred to Michigan State. Broussard, the 2020 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, has led the Buffs for the past two seasons.
In two seasons with Sam Houston, Jefferson rushed for 1,907 yards and 20 touchdowns, helping the Bearkats go 21-1. Sam Houston won the FCS national title in spring 2021. Last fall, he rushed for 1,155 yards and 13 touchdowns, was named a Third-Team All-American by the Associated Press, and helped the Bearkats reach the FCS semifinals.
During his collegiate career, the 5-foot-9, 215-pound Jefferson has played for three schools (also Maine and Garden City Community College) and mustered 3,938 yards and 41 touchdowns on the ground while averaging 6.2 yards per Carry scored.
Without Jefferson, the Buffs’ backfield is led by Fontenot, a sixth-year senior who propelled the team in 2019 for 874 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He also caught 27 passes for 122 yards.
Fontenot, who played behind Broussard last year, had 326 yards and led the team with five rushing touchdowns and six total touchdowns. He missed the 2020 season with a hip injury.
This spring, Fontenot was one of only three fellows running on the field, alongside junior Deion Smith and sophomore Jayle Stacks.
Fontenot expressed his confidence in the trio.
“I know we can do it,” he said. “If it was just the three of us, we could do it as a crime. That’s the confidence I have in our room. So it’s really not a concern that the numbers are going down because the talent is still there.”
The Buffs won’t be going into the season with just these three running backs, of course.
True freshman Victor Venn, a 5-foot-10, 175-pounder from Buford (Ga.) High School, will be joining the team this summer. He rushed for 3,010 yards and 36 touchdowns in his assisting career and helped Buford to three straight state titles. As a senior, he rushed for 957 yards and 10 touchdowns and received All-State honors.
With Jefferson leaving CU, the Buffs are now planning to sign Anthony Hankerson sooner than expected. Hankerson, a 2022 graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) High School, committed to CU in February, but the Buffs had planned to gray him out and delay his enrollment until January.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound Hankerson was rated a three-star recruit. He helped the Raiders to three straight Class 7A state titles and surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in each of those seasons. As a senior, he had 1,057 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Also in the backfield for the buffs are walk-ons Charlie Offerdahl and Noah Wagner. Offerdahl has had an impressive spring and coaches have said he will play a role this autumn.