For a second straight recruiting cycle, Deion Sanders has won 247Sports’ No. 1 cornerback. In 2022, it was Travis Hunter. In 2023 it will be five stars Cormani McClain. In a private ceremony Thursday in Lakeland, McClain Carl Reed of 247Sports said he had signed for Colorado.
“I play DB and Coach Prime is the best DB. I want to be in the same shoes, same predicament, gold jacket, everything,” McClain told 247Sports. “Let the best DB coach you. Why not?”
McClain was signed to Miami but did not sign during the early signing phase, setting off smoke alarms. As recently as Friday, Miami tried to jail McClain and sent several staff members to Lakeland (Fla.) High School, but McClain wasn’t at school and was already on his way to Colorado.
The 6-foot-2, 165-pound McClain also heavily considered Alabama and Florida during his trial and is No. 9 overall. McClain is the 19th high school candidate to field Colorado in the 2023 cycle. With him in the group, the Buffaloes’ recruit class rises from 44th to 29th in the 247Sports Composite standings. When you factor in transfers, Colorado’s overall 2023 record moves from 22nd nationally to 19th. McClain will be the highest-ranking high school prospect to sign with Colorado since 2008, as the No. 4 overall contender Darrell Scott the Buffaloes chose.
Sanders pulled the biggest recruiting shocker of all time during the early signing period of the 2022 cycle, as 247Sports’ #1 recruit, travis hunter, withdrawn a longstanding hearing against the state of Florida in favor of the state of Jackson. Hunter helped Sanders and the Tigers win a SWAC championship in the fall, then followed to Boulder as the 247Sports No. 1 transfer portal.
We’re no longer surprised by Sanders’ ability on the trail. When McClain decided not to sign with Miami during the three-day early signing period that began Dec. 21, 247Sports was the first to know that the Buffaloes were in touch. Sanders and his staff have campaigned hard for McClain ever since, and are now landing his promise.
McClain had been signed for Miami since October, when he made a surprise announcement about the Gators for the Hurricanes. It was then unexpected when he failed to put pen to paper during the early signing period. This is a recruitment that has had its fair share of intrigue, including BYU making it the acclaimed defender’s original Top 5.
TO READ: The 20 Greatest Moments of McClain’s Recruitment Roller Coaster
It’s easy to see why McClain has been coveted for so long. He emerged as a national recruit picking up nine passes as a sophomore. McClain snagged 10 more interceptions as a junior and two more as a senior for Lakeland (Fla.) High. He crowned his preparatory career with the Under Armor All-American Game. 247Sports Director of Scouting Andrew Ivins compares McClain’s game to that of the Pro Bowl defenseman and this year’s co-NFL interception leader Tariq Woolen.
“A new-age cornerback contender who’s rare blend of height, length and speed has the potential to make a difference at the highest level of football. Started his prep career playing primarily as a wide receiver before moving into action on the defensive side of the ball. Excelled right off the bat as a fullback against top competition at Sunshine State, making nine passes as a sophomore and ten more as a junior. Still very raw from a technical point of view, but sporty enough to carry and cover most vertical routes. Leggy transitions aren’t exactly ideal, but he has a knack for positioning himself to play at the catch point and can close gaps quickly with an elite burst. Has experience working for both men and off-coverage. Not a contact shyer and quite a spirited open-field tackler, he needs to improve in the boxing ring if he’s to establish himself as a real bump-and-run corner on Saturdays. Tested the charts as an underclassman with a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, a 128-inch long jump and a 4.3 in the short shuttle. Will eventually need to add bulk to a lean physique and further refine footwork/technique once enrolled at his school of choice, but has one of the highest ceilings in the entire Class of 2023 given the way he moves – and covers — for someone who is pushing 6-foot-2. Needs to learn how to frame failure and find some inner confidence when adversity strikes, but has the physical condition of a potential impact player for a college football playoff contender and a possible early-round NFL draft pick, if he can go further. Might have growing pains initially, but in the long run it’s worth molding crazy traits.”
Colorado has not produced an NFL first-round draft pick since 2011, when both Nate Solder and Jimmy Smith came off the board. Within a month, Sanders now has two talents on campus who are emerging as possible Day 1 picks in McClain and Hunter.