UTEP head coach defends former Colorado player after Shedeur Sanders criticism: 'Check the tape'


UTEP football coach Scotty Walden came to the defense of safety Xavier Smith on Tuesday after Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders took a shot at the ex-Buffaloes player on social media.

The issue stemmed from Smith’s comments about Deion Sanders in The Athletic earlier in the week. 

Smith, who eventually transferred to UTEP from Colorado, said the coach’s approach to his roster overhaul last season “was destroying guys’ confidence and belief in themselves.”

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Shedeur Sanders looks to pass

Colorado Buffaloes quarterback Shedeur Sanders during the Black and Gold spring game at Folsom Field in Boulder on Saturday, April 27, 2024. (Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Shedeur Sanders called Smith “mid” in a post on X and that’s when Walden responded.

“I coached Xavier at (Austin Peay) and now here at UTEP. He is the furthest thing from soft,” Walden wrote. “He is a great kid/player and led us to a conference title. 

“He answered a question honestly in an interview and was just telling his side. He was a freshman AA and has an extremely bright future on and off the field. I am glad he is on my team – check the tape.”

Walden is entering his first season with the Miners.

Smith seemingly just had an issue with the approach and believed things could’ve been handled differently.

Scotty Walden coaches Austin Peay

Head coach Scotty Walden of the Austin Peay Governors reacts during the Crimson Tide game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 19, 2022, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

COLORADO’S SHEDEUR SANDERS SAYS HE DOESN’T ‘EVEN REMEMBER’ FORMER TEAMMATE WHO CRITICIZED DEION SANDERS

Smith, who entered the 2022 season trying to get healthy from a broken leg he suffered in his senior season and then a hamstring injury during the season, told the outlet he was optimistic going into a meeting with Sanders, thinking that Coach Prime would work with the younger players. He was only a redshirt freshman at the time.

He said he was brought into the office with safety Oakie Salave’a and heard from defensive coordinator Charles Kelly and Sanders.

He told The Athletic that Sanders told him he should “probably hit the portal” and didn’t want him to “waste a year thinking I could earn a spot.”

Deion Sanders looks on before a game

Head coach Deion Sanders of the Colorado Buffaloes before the UCLA Bruins game at Rose Bowl Stadium on Oct. 28, 2023, in Pasadena, California. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

“I was actually getting mad, like tears coming to my eyes. Because, bro, you never even tried to get to know me,” Smith added.

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He later transferred to UTEP.

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