Class of 2018 – Impact on 2018 Roster … Defense

As the calendar moves to 2018, we can finally put the 2017 season behind us.

The Recruiting Class of 2018 is already – for the most part – in the fold, six weeks earlier than usual. Below, we look at the likely makeup of the 2018 CU football lineup, and how the Class of 2018 figures to impact the two-deep roster.

There is also a look at where attrition might take place this spring. CU is currently sitting at 87 scholarship players, two over the NCAA-mandated limit of 85. There may be an addition or two to the lineup over the next few months, so there are likely 3-5 current scholarship players who will not be in uniform come Fall Camp in August.

Previously posted … “Class of 2018 – Impact on 2018 Roster … Offense


Defensive Line

Players lost (with 2017 season stats) … Leo Jackson III (38 career games; 22 starts … 60 tackles – 46 unassisted) … George Frazier (49 games; 11 starts … 11 tackles 8 solo) … Timothy Coleman (41 games; three starts … six tackles; six unassisted)

2018 Projected Roster

Seniors … Javier Edwards*Chris Mulumba … Jase Franke

Juniors … Lyle Tuiloma … Mo Bandi

Sophomores … Terriek Roberts

Red-shirt freshmen … Terrance Lang … Nico Magri

True freshman … Jalen Sami (grey-shirt from Class of 2017)

Recruiting Class of 2018 … Tava Finau … Israel Antwine … Mustafa Johnson (JC)

Bold = returning starter … Italics = non-scholarship player … * = denotes red-shirt season still available

Recruiting Class of 2018 Impact on 2018 Lineup … Immediate.

… and it damn well better be.

Buff fans should be bracing themselves for a spring of coach speak about last year’s newcomers, Javier Edwards and Chris Mulumba.

– “They have now had a full year in the system, and will be ready to play”;

– “They have had a full off-season in the weight room, and will be ready to handle Pac-12 offensive linemen”.

Yada, yada, yada.

This a year after we were told that that Edwards and Mulumba were, as a result of their junior college experience, battle-tested and ready to step in and replace CU’s three departed seniors from 2016.

Instead, the defensive line was pushed around all season. Colorado was 108th in the nation in rushing defense, 102nd in sacks, and 111th in tackles for loss.

To the rescue come four new defensive linemen, including two who are not coming in fresh out of high school. Jalen Sami is a grey-shirt from the Class of 2017. Sami will still have five years to play four, but has had an extra year to bulk up (currently listed at 6’6″, 320-pounds) and get on the field. Mustafa Johnson, meanwhile, comes to Colorado from the junior college ranks, with one season at Modesto Community College (he will have four seasons to play three at CU).

Those two are joined by two true freshmen, Tava Finau and Israel Antwine. Normally, the pair would be ticketed for a red-shirt season, but may be forced into action sooner rather than later.

Having a thin defensive line roster, with poor results from those on the roster, will do that.


Attrition possibilities … Two chances: Fat and Slim.

Barring injuries or off-field issues, it’s all hands on deck for the defensive line.

Colorado can’t afford to lose any of its scholarship linemen, so no one is going to be asked to leave without cause.

The Recruiting Class of 2018 helps to add some much-needed beef to the defensive line, but, truth be told, the Buffs will need at least two more Classes like the Class of 2018 before there will be adequate depth in the adequate roster.


Players lost (with 2017 season stats) … Derek McCartney (38 career games; 36 starts … 55 tackles – 39 unassisted) … Trent Headley (one games … no stats) … Bryan Meek (no stats)

2018 Projected Roster

Seniors … Rick Gamboa … Drew Lewis … Terran Hasselbach … Michael Mathewes

Juniors … Shamar Hamilton

Sophomores … Dante Sparaco* … Jacob Callier* … Nate Landman* … Akil Jones … Sam Bennion … Jacob Stoltenberg 

Red-shirt freshmen … Carson Wells … Chase Newman … Jon Van Diest … Nick Edridge

Recruiting Class of 2018 … Joshka Gustav … Davlon Taylor (JC) … Clyde Moore

Bold = returning starter … Italics = non-scholarship player … * = denotes red-shirt season still available

Recruiting Class of 2018 Impact on 2018 Lineup … Unclear.

The 2017 season represented the first time since 2006 in which the Colorado defense had two players with over 100 tackles on the season, and only the second time since 1994 in which two linebackers teamed up for over 100 tackles each.

With both Gamboa and Lewis coming back … it’s all good with the CU linebackers, right?

Well, not exactly.

In a season in which the defense as a whole suffered, the linebackers are not exempt from critique. Gamboa and Lewis had their moments, but they were few and far between. The pair made many tackles, but few were behind the line of scrimmage. Lewis had two sacks and two other tackles for loss, while Gamboa had one half of one sack all year, with 1.5 tackles for loss.

There are some talented young players on the roster, but some of those sophomores-to-be are going to have to have some marked improvement between 2017 and 2018 for the Colorado defense to be better overall.

If the Recruiting Class of 2018 is to have an impact on the two-deep roster this fall, it will likely come in the name of Davlon Taylor. A junior college transfer, with three years to play two, Taylor committed to Colorado in June, de-committed in November, and signed in December. Taylor is 6’2″, 215-pounds, and is already be slotted in at the inside “Buff backer” position.

The other two freshmen, Joshka Gustav and Clyde Moore, have potential, but there are three red-shirt freshmen in front of them who sat out last year, and will be looking to have an impact upon the lineup themselves in 2018.

Attrition possibilities … Fair.

There is a total of 16 linebackers on the projected 2018 roster, and not everyone is going to play.

Granted, in CU’s mix-and-match defenses, some of the linebackers are really rush defensive ends, and some are more like safeties, but 16 is still a significant number.

And it’s high for a unit which hasn’t been overly productive.

No inside information here, but, if the Buffs do sign a few more players in February and are looking for a few spots to cut in order to get down to 85 scholarship players, there may be a linebacker or two who will be moving on come the end of May.


Defensive backs

Players lost (with 2017 season stats) … Ryan Moeller (39 career games; 25 starts … 44 tackles – 36 unassisted) … Afolabi Laguda (39 games; 26 starts … 67 tackles, 48 solo) … Andrew Bergner (27 games; no starts … six special teams points) … Isaiah Oliver (37 games; 16 starts … 27 tackles, 13 passes broken up)

2018 Projected Roster

Seniors … Evan Worthington … Nick Fisher* … Kyle Trego* … Jaisen Sanchez … Daniel Talley

Juniors … Dante WigleyLucas Cooper

Sophomores … Trey Udoffia … Ronnie Blackmon … Derrion Rakestraw … Kevin George … Uryan Hudson

Red-shirt freshmen … Chris Miller … Isaiah Lewis

Recruiting Class of 2018 … Delrick Abrams (JC) … Aaron Maddox (JC) … Hasaan Hypolite … Lavon Wallace … Ray Robinson

Bold = returning starter … Italics = non-scholarship player … * = denotes red-shirt season still available


Recruiting Class of 2018 Impact on 2018 Lineup … Significant.

Had Isaiah Oliver decided to return for his senior season, the 2018 starting lineup for Colorado secondary would have been fairly recognizable. Oliver, Dante Wigley and Trey Udoffia would all be back at the cornerback positions, with Evan Worthington returning at strong safety. The only open spot would have been at free safety, where Afodabi Laguda would need to be replaced.

With Oliver taking his talents to the NFL, the Buffs have some shuffling to do. Wigley and Udoffia are likely starters at corner, with newcomer Delrick Abrams joining the mix early. Abrams is a junior college transfer (with three years to play two) who had a number of Power-Five conference offers, including UCLA, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. It would be a surprise if Abrams isn’t on the field in September.

Another junior college transfer who will fighting for a starting position is Aaron Maddox. A 6’2, 195-pound safety who also had numerous Power-Five conference offers. Maddox will have four years to play three, and is a candidate to take Laguda’s spot in the starting lineup.

Attrition possibilities … Fair.

Like the wide receiver corps, the defensive backfield is a fairly deep unit.

There are a pair of senior safeties, Kyle Trego and Jaisen Sanchez, who have 30 career games between them … with no starts. This spring may be a make-or-break series of practices for this pair.

There are also four sophomore cornerbacks on the roster. Trey Udoffia has already found his way into the starting lineup, but Kevin George, Darrion Rakestraw and Ronnie Blackmon have yet to distinguish themselves. It is way too early to write off any of them, but the 2018 spring practices will be important for this trio.

Colorado was 94th in the nation in pass defense in 2017 … and that was with Isaiah Oliver in the lineup. The Buffs need quality defensive backs, and there is talent in the lineup. The Buffs did sign five defensive backs with the Class of 2018 – including two junior college transfers – meaning that no job is secure going forward.



5 Replies to “Class of ’18 Impact – Defense”

  1. Stuart, any idea how many more scholarships we have to offer? In other words, how many more players do you believe we’ll sign in February and in what positions of need?

    1. Currently, the Buffs are two over the limit, with 87 scholarship players in the fold.
      There will be some attrition this spring, so the number is not troubling. In fact, if CU can pick up a certain JC running back, they will likely sign him in January.
      Otherwise, help along either side of the line would be helpful.

      1. Good morning,

        Two suspended players?

        Your opinion

        Are they back?
        Impact if they are back

        Lotta speculation they are both back.

        Hope they are (they probably are)as the impact would be great eh?


        Note: The third one, the BIG one, has issues…………

  2. VK didnt use his “note” format this time so I will pick up the slack.

    Note 1. Sparaco played DE, I believe, at a high level of high school competition ad did very well. Listed as a linebacker he might be one of those hybrid rush ends. I am hoping he will become a factor.

    Note 2. Speaking of Linebackers you didnt point out that Landman did quite nicely when he was inserted late in the season. Obviously he is a guy that loves to play.

    Note 3. and speaking of guys that love to play I have to believe that description has to fit Antwine who came here with playing early as one of his top considerations as opposed to riding the pine in that physically stunning town of Stillwater.

    Sarcasm aside Eliot better have these guys ready to play right out of the gate. 2nd game is the ole (ol for VK) foes of the corn whose new coach made his name with his diverse offense in FL…..followed by Mr. O himself, Chip Kelly…..followed by that running QB at ASU that butchered the D like newborn lambs last season.

  3. Happy New Year Y’all and Go Buffs.

    8 months from today The Mighty Buffs kick off the 2018 season against the lambs down at Mile High. Yup it is still Mile High. Can’t wait.

    Early Note: The offense will be much better. Much much better. It is a new day for the Mighty Offense of the Buffs. The weak OJT OC is outta here. Can’t wait.

    Now the subject of this article by Stuart (Stu you sound so negative. You really do….and so critical) You being so negative on my favorite team………..perhaps you should delete yourself………..Just kidding……..I know your thoughts are pure……… mine.

    Anyway the defense this year will be totally dependent on the defensive coaches. I like Elliot, I really do. A year under his belt has gotta help. There were so many games where his defense got eaten up (yup half the blame on the players) and he just made no adjustments. Had no answers. Nothing. That was very disappointing. At some point ya just gotta make the adjustments to give your players a chance. MickeyMac said it was his defense so put the responsibility where it lies. Perhaps the defensive play calls were not correct. Perhaps the Conference has figure out the Mickey defense and now knows where the weaknesses are. (Like they did with Lindys offense.

    I think the defense is gonna be much better. For a lot of reasons. And perhaps a main reason will be that the offense will be so much better. I mean really that sucky performance by the offense last year had an effect on the defense as well as the fans.

    Well Okay then. Watching all the games. I would really like UCF beat Auburn. Another loss for the SEC damn them.

    Until next time yours truly,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *