For the first time in 15 years, a five-star high school recruit has signed with the Colorado Buffaloes.
On Wednesday, the first day of the regular signing period, highly touted cornerback Cormani McClain signed his national letter of intent to play for the Buffs.
McClain, tabbed a five-star recruit by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com, is ranked as the top cornerback prospect in the country.
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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: running back Marcus Houston (2000), offensive lineman Ryan Miller (2007), Scott and McClain.
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 new Buffs head coach Deion Sanders, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who is widely regarded as the best cornerback in NFL history.
“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.
McClain played his sophomore and junior seasons at Lake Gibson (Fla.) High School, recording nine interceptions as a sophomore and six as a junior, according to MaxPreps.com. He also played receiver, catching a combined 54 passes for 915 yards and 11 touchdowns in those two seasons. As a senior, McClain focused on defense and had two interceptions.
This is the second year in a row that Sanders has flipped the No. 1 cornerback recruit in the country. A year ago, when Sanders was the head coach at Jackson State, he landed the top-rated cornerback – and the No. 1 player overall – in the 2022 class, Travis Hunter, who had been committed to Florida State. Hunter transferred to CU this winter.
Hunter and McClain 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 full-time 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 all-rookie team in 2020 was first-team All-Pro this season.
2019 – Derek Stingley Jr., LSU: Consensus All-American 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 second-team 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 All-SEC team in 2021 and first-team All-SEC this year.
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