Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Justin Guerriero at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @TheHungry_Hippo
In the offseason, especially in the aftermath of yet another losing campaign, Colorado football fans can find solace in monitoring incoming recruits and transfers.
Enter Sheriron Jones, a 6-foot-2 freshman quarterback from the University of Tennessee, who earlier this month excited players, coaches and fans alike when he announced that he’d be transferring to CU. The former four-star recruit redshirted for the 2015 season and was third on the depth chart at his position for the Volunteers.
Exit Sheriron Jones.
It has been confirmed that Colorado released the Perris, California native from his scholarship, allowing him to return to Tennessee. Per NCAA rules, transfer athletes may return to the school that they transferred from within a 14-day window.
Head coach Mike MacIntyre issued a brief press release regarding the situation. More details and follow-up statements will likely be issued by both sides soon, after Jones finalizes his return and re-registers for classes at Tennessee.
Jones’ quick departure robs the football program of a likely candidate to take the offensive helm after the incumbent starting quarterback, Sefo Liufau, graduates in 2017.
That’s the first question that Jones’ departure raises: Who’s going to be the next quarterback of this football team?
With all due respect to the guys below Liufau on the depth chart, namely junior Jordan Gehrke and freshman Cade Apsay, nothing in their small sample sizes of action on the field has shown that either of them should be leading the offense in the near future.
At this point, Gehrke is a lost cause. He’ll never start for CU. Apsay is only a freshman, but how good could he possibly become? Is he really the guy that is going to evolve and improve as a player to the point where he can be a competitive Pac-12 quarterback by the time he’s an upperclassman?
Jones’ decision to return to Tennessee has numerous potential ramifications for Colorado. Since MacIntyre became coach before the 2013 season, the Buffaloes, despite a lack of a winning season, have been improving; the Buffs are in a better position than they were before MacIntyre arrived.
It’s been three seasons, and despite tangible improvements to the program, again, a winning season remains a difficult task. Let’s say the Buffs have a winning season in 2016 and go to a bowl. Then, next season, without the services of Liufau, they fall back into their losing ways. 2016 will be a slim window for success, and when Liufau leaves, the program could regress due to the lack of an experienced quarterback. In regard to the damage it would do to the confidence level of coaches and players, there isn’t anything more devastating.
That’s quite a slippery slope. Any type of regression would be fatal to Macintyre’s job, to future potential recruits and to a fanbase eager to see the Buffaloes regain the glory that belonged to the program in the early 1990s.
As of right now, Colorado’s other hope for its quarterback of the future is Sam Noyer, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound commit from Beaverton, Oregon.
Noyer, a three star recruit who coaches have praised for his ability to toss the ball downfield and tuck and run when necessary, is the only quarterback on the Buffs’ list of 2016 recruits. Could he be the future leader of the Colorado offense? Who knows.
Hopefully, Colorado isn’t poised for regression and disappointment in the near future. But this is the Buffs we’re talking about here — a team that has been deprived of a bowl berth in the last two seasons due in part to what MacIntyre likes to call “bonehead mistakes.” It could be disastrous to combine this mistake-prone team with an inexperienced quarterback.
I squirm in my chair when questions about the future of the program — in this case, the question regarding who will be running the offensive show starting in 2017 — remain unanswered. That’s a pretty big question mark, big enough to warrant uneasy feelings on the future of the football team.
At the end of the day, Sheriron Jones, a four-star transfer, will not wear black and gold. An asset has been lost, a loss which hopefully doesn’t come back to haunt the Buffaloes.