Prelude: The seniors of the 2013 Buffaloes football team have had to be part of a very difficult 4-5 year timeframe that many Buffs faithful considered to be the worse stretch in Colorado history. However, these men have stuck it out, bleed black and gold and put in the time and effort to hold their head high amongst the brotherhood of former Buffs players. They also look at themselves as the group that can help turn it around with the new staff and direction of the football program. Now, with Coach Mike MacIntyre, they are the shoulders to carry the load and get over that hill and exceed expectations the public had for them to start the season and potentially reach postseason play for the only time in their careers. With that we will be covering a Buffs senior each week throughout the season to talk about their accomplishments and look at what their potential future holds.
From Memphis to Boulder: Derrick Webb
Derrick Webb comes from a long lineage of football success. His cousin, Roger Craig, was the Offensive Player of the Year in the NFL in 1988 and 3x Super Bowl winner with the San Francisco 49ers. Another cousin and uncle of his played both college ball and in the NFL. Derrick has the bloodlines and ability to join this group in 2013. But let's reflect on Webb's career at Colorado before addressing his potential future.
Derrick Webb signed with Colorado out of Whitehaven High School in Memphis, Tennessee in 2009 and had to have visions of things being much different than what his five years as a member of the Colorado football team have become. At the time, Colorado had just narrowly missed out on a bowl in 2008 after making a bowl game in 2007, and appeared to just be a few pieces away from taking the next step. Out of that 2009 freshman class, only Nick Kasa finished his entire eligibility with the Buffs prior to this season. The remaining group from that 2009 class are five fifth year seniors in Jack Harris, Gus Handler, Nate Bonsu, Parker Orms and Derrick Webb. Webb redshirted the 2009 season and earned the special teams scout award. Webb was ready to become a contributor on game days for the Buffs the following season.
Redshirt Freshman Year - 2010
Webb saw action in every game of the 2010 season, most of which were on special teams with limited duty on defense. Often you could hear a thud and wow in the crowd when Webb, then #56, would catapult himself into a helpless return man. He was a special teams standout and led the team in special teams tackles in 2010 and appeared ready for a regular defensive role.
Sophomore Year - 2011
In 2011, Webb again showed his niche for taking down the return man on special teams but also saw extensive time at LB during the season. During a game against Ohio State in which Colorado was completely overmatched, Derrick Webb was probably the most dynamic defensive player for Colorado accounting for 10 tackles. The biggest thing that hampered Webb from playing every snap on defense was discipline. Special teams stand outs fly around and make stops, often hoping to avoid blockers so they can catapult themselves into the return man. Unfortunately, that's what it often looked like when Webb was out of place on plays from playing with that same reckless abandonment.
Junior Year - 2012
In 2012, Webb switched from his jersey number 56 to number 1 and with it came change as a player. Derrick stood strong and met a goal he had set out towards as a freshman, becoming team captain officially beginning Week 3 of the season after being captain for Week 1 against CSU. In that game, Webb led Colorado in defensive stops and was a wrecking ball. Derrick had finally seemed to understand assignment football and the benefit it can have for your game as a defender. Webb led the Buffs with 88 total tackles and still contributed on special teams, adding to his totals amongst the best special teams players to wear the Black and Gold (or Silver or Sky Blue-Barf). Webb was considered to be maybe the third best backer to start the season with seniors like Doug Rippy and Jon Major, but with his work ethic, health and play he proved to be the most consistent and highest producing linebacker and arguably defensive player for 2012.
Senior Year - 2013
Prior to the 2013 season, there was little doubt whom the primary defensive starters would be and whom the leaders on this team would be. It was Chidera Uzo-Diribe and Derrick Webb's defense and they were the rocks to lean on for a less experienced group surrounding them. Webb has put up solid, but not earth shattering numbers, through the first 5 weeks of 2013. He is on pace to be amongst the Top 50 tacklers in Buffs history and is already amongst the Top 5 special teams players in Buffs history, ranking in the Top 5 since they began taking stats. Webb continues to contribute on those special teams he became noticed for as a redshirt freshman and continues to lead the Buffs in their transition.
Derrick Webb's Buff Legacy
Webb has probably been the most consistent and productive player of the 2009 class. He has not missed a game since his redshirt freshman year and he has begun to hand the keys over to freshman star Addison Gillam. Even with his numbers quiet compared to Gillam's, Webb continues to be that consistent force and leader this defense needs. He will have some big games to come and remind everyone there is more than a freshman linebacker for the tradition rich Buffs linebacking corp. Many Colorado Buffaloes fans feel CU is the true Linebacker U, and while another school lays claim to it, the production level at both college and the NFL level over the past 30 years is there. I will leave that competition for another day (and article), but Webb may add his name to the list of former Buffs backers to play on Sunday's.
As highlighted above, Webb will be amongst the Top 50 tacklers in Buffs history and amongst the special teams stars. He has proven everything he can as a Buff and no matter what his future holds he can leave with his held head high as being amongst the greats. The mantra Bill McCartney put up years ago is a saying that holds true and continues on to the next generation with players like Derrick Webb, "The Pride and Tradition of the Colorado Buffaloes shall not be entrusted to the timid or the weak."
Derrick Webb's Personality and Future
The first time I heard Derrick Webb speak in person was during the 2013 Scholarship Donor Luncheon. Derrick was one of two players that spoke and his personality lit up the room. He was engaging, energetic, funny and it was a joy to witness more than just the typical football response you get in an interview but his genuine expressions and feelings. He has already graduated with his degree in Communications and appears to have taken that degree to understand how to deal with large crowds. Even if he doesn't end up on television, he has the ability to engage clients and people to be successful as a speaker, in marketing or any walk of life he chooses.
Derrick Webb hopefully will not have to make a choice for years to come. He is a Buff that reminds me along the lines of Sean Tufts, Brian Iwuh, Brad Jones and others that have the strength, size (not height like Tufts) and speed to play at the next level for a number of years even if their Colorado career didn't put them on the Mount Rushmore Buffs like Alfred Williams, Matt Russell and Chad Brown (yes, there are many, many other Buffs to consider you confused Nittany Lions fans). I believe Iwuh is the closest to what Webb is capable of being at the NFL level, a special teams standout and fill in-starter, that can have a nice half dozen years or so career.
Whether Derrick Webb is in the NFL, producing music (his song "Colorado Swag" was played during games during the past two seasons), marketing or if heis breaking down the latest game, his career with the Buffs was one that deserves a standing ovation when he takes his last steps on Folsom Field, as a player, against USC on November 23rd.