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Random Thoughts – Vol. II

**This week Brad and I will be recording the first CU at the Game Podcast of 2021, which will be a Mailbag. If you have questions, or have a topic you would like for us to discuss, you can either post them in the comments section below, or by way of email, at cuatthegame@gmail.com**

David Bakhtiari becomes the first Buff to be named All-Pro five times

On November 15, 2020, former CU offensive lineman David Bakhtiari became the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history, signing a four-year, $105.5 million contract extension. Unfortunately, on December 31st, Bakhtiari tore his ACL, sidelining him for the remainder of the season.

Despite being unavailable for the 2020 playoffs, Bakhtiari was named to his third Pro Bowl (2016, 2019, 2020). He was also named to the Associated Press All-Pro for a school-best fifth time.

Not bad for a former fourth-round pick (2013 NFL Draft, 108th pick overall).

The 2020 season marked the second time Bakhtiari has been named first-team All-Pro (2018), being named second-team All-Pro team three times (2016, 2017, and 2019).

Wide receiver Cliff Branch (Oakland, 1974-77) and defensive back Mark Haynes (1981-84) are the only Buffs to be named All-Pro four times, though both Branch and Haynes were named first-team All-Pro all four years they made the team.

Here is a list of CU’s All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections … 

Colorado’s All-Pro Selections
The following is a list of those Colorado Buffaloes who were named to at least one All-Pro team for the year designated (all first-team unless designated second-team by an *; all were first-team all-conference):

Dick Anderson, S, Miami (1972-73-74)
David Bakhtiari, OL, Green Bay (2016*, 2017*, 2018, 2019*, 2020)                                                                                                 Mitch Berger, P, Minnesota (1999),New Orleans (2004).
Cliff Branch, WR, Oakland (1974-75-76-77)
Tom Brookshier, CB, Philadelphia (1959-60)
Chad Brown, OLB, Pittsburgh (1996), Seattle (1998-99)
Frank Clarke, E, Dallas (1964)
Eddie Dove, S, San Francisco (1961*)
Andre Gurode, C, Dallas (2007-09)
Mark Haynes, CB, N.Y. Giants (1981-82-83*-84)
Charlie Johnson, NT, Philadelphia (1979-80-81)
Michael Lewis, SS, Philadelphia (2004)
Walter Stanley, KR, Detroit (1989)
Joel Steed, NT, Pittsburgh (1997)
Kordell Stewart, QB, Pittsburgh (2001)
Byron White, B, Pittsburgh (1938),Detroit (1940-41)
Alfred Williams, DE, Denver (1996)
John Wooten, OG, Cleveland (1966)

Colorado’s Pro Bowl Selections
The following lists those Colorado Buffaloes who were selected to play in the Pro Bowl for the season listed:

Dick Anderson, S, Miami (1972-73-74)
David Bakhtiari, OT, Green Bay (2016, 2019, 2020)
Mitch Berger, P, Minnesota (1999),New Orleans (2004)
Cliff Branch, WR, Oakland (1974-75-76-77)
Tom Brookshier, CB, Philadelphia (1959-60)
Chad Brown, OLB, Pittsburgh (1996), Seattle (1998-99)
Eddie Dove, S, San Francisco (1961)
Andre Gurode, C, Dallas (2006-07-08-09-10)
Mark Haynes, CB, N.Y. Giants (1982-83-84)
Charlie Johnson, NT, Philadelphia (1979-80-81)
Michael Lewis, SS, Philadelphia (2004)
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver (2018)
Rod Perry, CB, L.A. Rams (1978-80)
Joel Steed, NT, Pittsburgh (1997)
Kordell Stewart, QB, Pittsburgh (2001)
Alfred Williams, DE, Denver (1996)
John Wooten, OG, Cleveland (1965-66)

Nate Landman returns

On Tuesday night, Colorado’s star inside linebacker announced on Instagram that he will return to CU for the 2021 season. He was eyeing the NFL Draft before rupturing his right Achilles’ tendon against Utah on Dec. 12, but will take advantage of the NCAA granting all players an extra year of eligibility because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve always been taught to bend not break,” Landman wrote. “While playing against Utah I ruptured my Achilles and this put a big bump in the road for my dreams of playing in the NFL. My career is far from over and I’m excited for what the future holds. With that being said I have decided to come back and play for CU for one more year and continue to build upon CU’s great history.”

Landman was a second-team All-American (Football Writers Association of America; Phil Steele), and was named first-team All-Pac-12 the past two seasons after receiving honorable mention honors in 2018.

How important is the announcement to the 2021 Buffs?

It says here … huge.

Now, if you read all of the posts by the medical experts on the message boards, recovery from an Achilles tendon rupture can take anywhere from six months to 12 months. Landman’s surgery took place on December 15th, which makes him available to the Buffs somewhere between June 15th and … December 15th.

So, Landman could be available for the entire 2021 season … or not at all.

We’ll have to wait and see, but, even if Landman doesn’t get to play the entire season, his presence in the CU locker room will be a boost. Landman is a leader, and not just because he is an upperclassman or because he is named captain. He leads by example, and inspires his teammates. You know the type … Phillip Lindsay was like that … Sefo Liufau … Nelson Spruce … and many others.

And, not for nothing, he will help add credibility to the Buffs on the national stage. Colorado finished 2nd in the Pac-12 South in 2020, but will be picked to finish second in 2021 by … absolutely no one.

Arizona will be picked to finish last in the division, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Buffs are picked to finish 5th by most preseason prognosticators.

But getting Landman back – a second-team All-American and a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 performer – will make it all the more difficult for pundits to justify downgrading the Buffs.

Speaking of improving CU’s 2021 chances … 

During with an interview on Matt McChesney’s “Unchained” podcast, Colorado head coach Karl Dorrell revealed Nate Landman is not the only senior expected to return to compete with the Buffaloes in 2021.

“Nate, Mustafa Johnson, Carson Wells and ‘T-Lang’ (Terrance Lang)… they are all back next year,” Dorrell told McChesney, the founder of Six Zero Strength and the host of the popular podcast on TheDNVR.com. “I am very impressed with them buying into the direction we’re going and the message that we’re presenting to our team right now. They feel like, you know what, we have a chance to really do some damage if we all come back and we all have a great off-season and develop as a football team and develop our depth and continue to get better at our system.

“I think this prelude of what we did this fall tells them we are really in the thick of things. We have as good a chance as anybody of winning this conference. We felt that way going into last year, even that six game season, but they now have touched it and they know they’ve made some positive steps. And they know there is some ground to make up, too. I am very proud of those seniors because they bought into the message of working hard, having physical practices, doing things that matter to being successful. Those guys are leading that charge going into 2021. So, I am excited they are all back.”

So is the rest of the Buff Nation.

Now, just because the coach says the players are coming back doesn’t mean that they will. You wouldn’t think that Coach Dorrell would make such a statement without feeling comfortable doing so, but CU is, after all, CU.

Assuming that the statement is correct, the Colorado defense in 2021 could be “salty” (games and starts do not include bowl games).

Defensive line ... DE Terrance Lang, Jr. (28 games; 16 starts) … NG Janaz Jordan, Jr. (16 games; 5 starts) or Jalen Sami, Soph. (16 games; 13 starts) … DT Mustafa Johnson, Sr. (26 games; 26 starts)

Linebackers … OLB Guy Thomas, Jr. (4 games; 3 starts) … ILB Jonathan Van Diest, Jr. (23 games; 6 starts) … ILB Nate Landman, Sr. (40 games; 29 starts) … OLB Carson Wells, Jr. (27 games; 21 starts)

Secondary … CB Christian Gonzalez, Fr. (5 games; 5 starts) … FS/Star Isaiah Lewis, Jr. (26 games; 4 starts) … SS Mark Perry, Soph. (14 games; 3 starts) … CB Mehki Blackmon, Jr. (17 games; 10 starts).

As it stands, the only seniors who aren’t returning to the lineup next fall would be linebacker Akil Jones (33 games; 10 starts) and safety Derrion Rakestraw (41 games; 16 starts). Both were significant contributors … and they might decide to come back as well.

And … dare we say it?

There will actually be depth in the lineup … Players like Jeremiah Doss, Na’im Rodman and Austin Williams along the line … Quinn Perry, Marvin Ham, and Joshka Gustav at linebacker … (the oft-injured) Chris Miller, Nigel Bethel, Tarik Luckett, and K.J. Trujillo in the defensive backfield.

Not to mention some freshmen from the Class of 2020 and 2021 who could contribute (Buff fans should be especially excited about JC transfer safety Trustin Oliver, who originally committed to CU, but is coming back as a junior college transfer).

The reality of college football these days is that the top tier teams can face opt-outs, NFL early entrants, and transfers … and still field a a quality lineup year-in and year-out.

Teams like Colorado, meanwhile, can’t just plug and play.

The 2020 Colorado defense had five All-Pac-12 performers on defense … LB Nate Landman (first team) … DL Mustafa Johnson (second team) … DL Terrence Lang (honorable mention) … LB Carson Wells (honorable mention) … and DB Isaiah Lewis (honorable mention).

All five will be back.

Ponder that one for a minute …

Meanwhile … 

It can’t all be good news …

Colorado is parting ways with Drew Wilson, the football program’s director of strength and conditioning for the past five years.

Wilson was working under a three-year contract that is set to expire on Feb. 14. According to a spokesperson from CU, Wilson’s contract, which paid him an annual salary of $220,000, will not be renewed.

Hired January 4, 2016, by former head coach Mike MacIntyre, Wilson worked for three head coaches during his time at CU. Current head coach Karl Dorrell was hired in February and elected to retain Wilson, who has coordinated the strength and conditioning for each player on the current roster.

From most accounts, Wilson was loved by the players, and was praised by all – including Karl Dorrell – for his efforts in guiding the team through a difficult spring and summer with no practices. Not only was Wilson popular, but the improvement along both lines was noticeable the past two seasons.

After the coordinator positions, the strength and conditioning coach may be the most important staff member. While the NCAA strictly limits contact coaches can have with players, the one constant in players’ lives is the strength and conditioning coach.

Why Wilson is leaving remains a mystery, and Buff fans may never know.

One thing is clear … Those who know aren’t talking, while those who are talking don’t know.

We’ll just have to turn our attention to the next hire … and hope that they will be successful.

—–

5 Replies to “Random Thoughts – Vol. II”

  1. Watching the Washington Tampa game we almost viewed Steve Montez come with in a whisker of getting some snaps in a real NFL game.

    Hope Steve can hang onto an NFL squad, get some real good coaching, improve his mechanics, learn to read defenses, see the field pre-snap, and all of us Buff fans can find out if he really has the talent to play the game on the pro level. There were times when it seemed like he could and as we all saw there were the other times. Best of luck though to a loyal Buff that did give us some good moments (can anyone ever forget Eugene, OR, or two time whippings on those Fuskers?)

  2. Enjoyed your random thoughts and am particularly keen about S&C coach Drew Wilson not being retained. This being his contract year was he perhaps seeking a pay raise in a year when NCAA athletic departments have taken massive revenue hits due to the pandemic—thus relegating Wilson to a “salary casualty” that we generally associate with the cap system in pro sports? Again only added speculation on my part to sprinkle more sugar in the cereal bowl of unknowns surrounding this decision. I hope that George-Dorrell and company are in the short list phase of a new hire for this critical post.

    1. MAB, that’s by far the best conspiracy theory I’ve heard. It’s so good, it’s probably not that far off the mark.

      Will definitely be interesting to see who they bring in next. My other thought was maybe they go McChesney, but I think he enjoys being his own boss too much.

      Go Buffs

        1. No clue. But I would expect that with 6yrs in the nfl, and his career to that point and running his business since, that he understands weights and strength are only a component of strength and conditioning. Cardio, footwork, leverage, stretching/flexibility etc are all important aspects of a fit athlete.

          Still doesn’t seem like he’d take a gig at CU, and I’ve no idea of he’d be a good fit, but like everyone was a little surprised to hear drew was not renewed.

          Go Buffs

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