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CFF Targets - New Colorado transfer a potential VOLUME PIG in 2023
The Buffaloes brought in several transfers this offseason, I think one in particular has a chance to have an impressive 2023 campaign
TE Seydou Traore - 6’4, 223
I knew that the Buffaloes were going to be a significantly different looking program next year when, upon arrival in Boulder, Colorado, Deion Sanders declared that “I brought my luggage with me - and it’s Louis” to whatever was left of the Colorado roster. The looks on the faces of those kids always stuck with me, they knew most of them were likely never going to play another down for the University of Colorado, and truth be told, there were probably many kids in that program who were not Power Five (P5) caliber players.
Indeed, the Buffaloes have since undergone a significant transformation over the past four months, with changes made to both their roster and organization, and it’s an exciting time in Boulder, as coach Sanders injects new life into what has been a dormant program in the PAC-12 for some time now. One of the ways Sanders plans to do so is by bringing in fresh faces via the transfer portal (I suspect that this is the ‘Louis’ he is referring to), which seems like a viable strategy to me in the short term. Notably, Sanders brought over his son, QB Shedaur Sanders, from JSU as well as a host of new playmakers on the perimeter.
Among these playmakers is rising junior TE Seydou Traore, who joined the Buffaloes from the Group of Five (G5) school Arkansas State. Traore, a native of London, United Kingdom, is a unique prospect, as it is rare to see elite athletes from overseas make their way into college football stardom. But Traore did just that in 2022, catching 55 passes for 655 yards and 4 TDs in 12 games, earning honourable mention on the All-American team.
Traore's football experience prior to joining Arkansas State was limited to just one season of 11-aside football at Clearwater Academy International in Florida. As such, it is reasonable to assume that, even as he enters his third year of college football, he has yet to scratch the surface of his potential.
Unfortunately for the Red Wolves, despite the frequent usage he saw in Jonesboro, Traore decided to take his talents to Boulder for the 2023 season. The Utah Utes also brought him in on a recruiting visit when he was in the transfer portal, but they ultimately lost out to the Buffs for the elite TE’s services. With how much Utah relies on its TEs, I think it speaks volumes about Traore’s ability that they wanted him — and it also says something that he ultimately chose the Buffs (more on this later).
The question on our minds is can Traore sustain his level of play and retain CFF relevance moving up a level to the PAC-12? Let’s take a look at the arguments.
Colorado system presents conflicting forces for Traore’s CFF value
Under Deion Sanders the JSU Tigers threw their TE the 3rd most passes on the roster last season (38). They had four separate players go over 400 yards and the leading receiver on the team, Shane Hooks, actually presents a similar physique as Traore, at 6’4, 205 pounds.
Traore is a standout tight end who embodies the modern trend of the position, as he can be seen more as a jumbo receiver rather than a TE. In fact, during his high school career, he was considered a WR prospect. I don’t know how much blocking he did at Arkansas State, or how much he will be expected to do at Colorado; but my inclination is that if the staff went out of their way to get him then they likely plan to deploy him at what we know he excels at, whether that be lining him up wide or in the slot.
On the other hand, new OC Sean Lewis’ usage of the TE at Kent State was shocking, and not in a good way. Between 2020 and 2022, the Kent State TE1 caught 16 passes total for less than 200 yards receiving and 3 TDs (across three seasons). That’s horrendous if you were a Kent State TE owner (and lord help you if you were). The Golden Flash offences under Lewis centred around a few boundary WRs, and running the ball effectively through the QB and RB. Something to keep in mind is that the WRs that saw a lot of volume at Kent State were typically larger bodies (e.g., D. Walker is listed at 6’3, D. Cephus at 6’1), given Traore’s skill set, and lack of big body receivers on the Buffaloes’ roster, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he is deployed in a variety of creative ways on the boundary.
Was Traore given early indication he’d be involved in this offence?
As noted earlier, Traore received interest from multiple teams, including the TE-friendly Utah Utes. During his recruiting visit, it is likely that Traore was informed about the TE-centric system run by the Utes in Salt Lake City. His decision to ultimately choose the Buffaloes suggests to me that he was probably given a similar indication that he would be a focal point on Colorado's offence in 2023 as well. As discussed in the Transfer Targets series, it is worth keeping a close eye on certain transfers because there may be an element of pre-selection involved. In Traore's case, while this is not a guarantee of high production to come, it is a promising sign. On the other hand, maybe he just chose Colorado because he likes Deion, or prefers the colours of the jerseys, who knows, right? The good news is Traore is not likely to require a steep price to acquire him in re-drafts, so we can take a low-risk-high-upside gamble here (which is usually a good plan for TEs).
One of the concerns with Traore's CFF profile is the uncertainty around the quality of QB play and the level of competition he will face.
Let's start with the former issue. Traore's quarterback, Shedaur Sanders, is also making the jump up in competition, having transferred from the FCS level. Although Sanders was highly rated coming out of high school and likely would have gone directly to a P5 program if his father wasn't the coach of JSU, there are still concerns about how well he will perform at the higher level. At the time of writing, I believe Sanders should be able to provide at least average PAC-12 QB play, which should be sufficient for Traore. However, there is always the possibility with a new system that things go south.
As for the latter concern, Traore has already played at the Division 1 FBS level, so he has experience at a higher level of competition. Many G5 players have successfully made the jump to the P5 level, so I am not as concerned about Traore's ability to perform.
Lastly, I expect Colorado to be trailing in many of its games this upcoming season, which could benefit all of the pass catchers on the roster. However, there is a concern about Colorado's ability to convert opportunities into touchdowns. If they struggle to score in the red zone, Traore's opportunities to make plays may be limited. There are many new elements coming into this offensive system, including the scheme itself, and it remains to be seen how successful it will be.
This is the end of the Traore segment of this article, I ramble on about the combine and Darnell Washington below for those interested.
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Non-CFF related side note. While on the topic of athletic TEs, I am currently watching the NFL combine as Darnell Washington (UGA TE, pictured below) absolutely dominates the competition. If you’re a recruiting junkie like me, the combine is a reminder of how fast time flies (and also how fast UGA’s 2021 front 7 was). After following some of these guys since their 10th grade year of high school, seeing them at the combine often feels incredibly surreal.
Indeed, last year as I watched George Pickens do his thing, I couldn’t help but reminisce over his wild recruitment with Auburn, or Nakobe Dean and Lewis Cine’s interview at the All-American game, where they explained their desire to ‘destroy Alabama’. At that very same game a year later it was current UGA WRs Arian Smith and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint who, when asked about Darnell, professed how much of a freak of nature he is. Darnell was not committed at that point, and it looked as though it was coming down to Miami, Tennessee, Alabama, and UGA. His was a fun recruitment to follow, and although he may have felt like a consolation prize at the time for Dawgs fans when he committed, as in-state ATH Arik Gilbert, who was likely the greatest high school TE prospect of all time, committed to the LSU Tigers earlier that fall, I’d say it worked out quite well for both Darnell and Dawg nation.
I generally try to stay away from Twitter during the combine season, as the takes I tend to see from the NFL Twitter crowd regarding CFB players often border on the clinically insane. Unfortunately, I’m afraid fantasy football has warped many of the minds in the football space, and this crowd tends to fixate on the productivity of players in college when forecasting to the NFL. A mistake, obviously, as we know stats are largely a product of the system the player plays in. That’s true in Darnell’s case but it also goes deeper than that, Darnell Washington is perhaps the greatest blocking TE to ever come through college football. So we should ask ourselves, why the hell would anybody use him to do anything but that on the football field?
Anyways, I will conclude the rant here. Like you, I look forward to seeing what the future holds for big ‘0’, who is undoubtedly one of the most unique prospects ever (exhibit A below).