CU football's sophomore athlete Travis Hunter crumples in pain as a yellow penalty flag hits the ground following an illegal hit along the sideline by a CSU defender during the Rocky Mountain Showdown on Sept. 16, 2023 at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.

Colorado’s Deion Sanders condemns death threats against CSU player

Colorado coach Deion Sanders confirmed Tuesday that two-way star Travis Hunter lacerated his liver during Saturday’s 43-35 double-overtime overtime victory over Colorado State.

He also condemned death threats made against Colorado State safety Henry Blackburn, who delivered the hit that sent Hunter to the hospital.

Hunter won’t play in this Saturday’s showdown between No. 19 Colorado and No. 10 Oregon at Eugene. He is expected to miss multiple weeks.

Hunter was released from the hospital on Monday and is now recovering at home, according to Sanders.

Hunter was hospitalized in Boulder after taking a vicious hit in the midsection from Blackburn during the first quarter of Saturday’s game. Hunter returned to action before later leaving for good.

The fierce hit led to death threats against Blackburn and his family. Colorado State athletic director Joe Parker said Monday that addresses and phone numbers for Blackburn and his family were published on the internet.

Colorado State campus police and local authorities are investigating.

Sanders was disturbed that Blackburn and his family are receiving death threats.

“He does not deserve death threats over a game,” Sanders said Tuesday. “… “Very unfortunate. I’m saddened if there’s any of our fans that’s on the other side of those threats — I would hope and pray not.

“But that kid was just playing the best of his ability and he made a mistake. I forgive him. CU, our team forgives him. Travis, he’s forgiven him. Let’s move on. But that kid does not deserve that.”

Ironically, Blackburn is a native of Boulder. He also intercepted a pass during the contest.

“Henry Blackburn is a good player who played a phenomenal game,” Sanders said. “He made a tremendous hit on Travis on the sideline. You could call it dirty, you could call it, ‘He was just playing the game of football.’ But whatever it was, it does not constitute that he should be receiving death threats.”

Hunter has been a breakout star for Colorado while playing receiver on offense and cornerback on defense. He played over 100 snaps in each of the Buffaloes’ first two games.

Hunter has 16 receptions for 213 yards on offense, and one interception and nine tackles on defense.

–Field Level Media

Sep 22, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Carolina Panthers special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers part ways with three assistant coaches

The Carolina Panthers parted ways with three assistant coaches Tuesday.

Offensive line coach Pat Meyer, defensive line coach Frank Okam and special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn were let go following a 5-12 season.

Meyer, 49, joined the Panthers on head coach Matt Rhule’s first staff in 2020 following previous stints with the Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears and the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes.

Okam, 36, coached with Rhule at Baylor from 2018-19 and followed him to the NFL. He was the assistant defensive line coach and 2020 before earning a promotion for 2021.

Blackburn, 38, was a holdover from head coach Ron Rivera’s staff. He was Carolina’s assistant special teams coach from 2016-17 before becoming the coordinator in 2018.

Meyer and Okam were dismissed one day after general manager Scott Fitterer said improving line play on both sides of the ball would be a priority during the offseason.

“Our emphasis is going to be solidifying the offensive and defensive lines. We need to get big bodies,” Fitterer said Monday. “We need to get tough, gritty guys up front, so when it comes to December, we can run the ball. When it’s third-and-2, we can count on them getting push at the line of scrimmage to run the ball.”

The Panthers fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady during their bye week in early December.

–Field Level Media