Following our offensive roster chart, below is the 2009 Colorado Buffaloes' defensive and special team players. Compared to the offensive piece, this chart has a little more distribution between years of each position as well as depth oming down the 2010 pipeline unlike tight end and fullback on the offensive side of the ball.
|DT||Taj Kaynor||Eric Lawson||C Cunningham||Will Pericak||Nate Bonsu|
|Tyler Sale*||Eugene Goree||Edward Nuckols|
|DE||M Herrod||Kevin Cooney*||Nick O'Neill*||Nick Kasa|
|Joe Silipo*||David Goldberg*||J. Forrest West|
|Conrad Obi||Sc Fernandez*|
|LB||Marcus Burton||Michael Sipili||Tyler Ahles||Jon Major||Liloa Nobriga|
|Shaun Mohler||B.J. Beatty||*Brandon Gouin||Doug Rippy||Derrick Webb|
|Jeff Smart||*Zackary Farley||*Guy Sergent||Geoff Sissom*|
|*Bryan Stengel||Josh Hartigan|
|CB||Cha Brown||Jalil Brown||Jon Hawkins||Stephen Hicks||Deji Olatoye|
|Ben Burney||Jimmy Smith||*Arthur Jaffee||Paul Vigo||Cody McAninch*|
|S||*Bret Smith||Patrick Mahnke||Vince Ewing||Parker Orms|
|*Erik Manarino||Ray Polk|
|K||Aric Goodman||Jameson Davis||Z Grossnickle|
|SN||J Drescher||Austin Bisnow|
|DEFENSIVE AND SPECIAL TEAMS TOTAL|
|italics - transfer / * - non-scholarship player|
The linebacking and cornerback spots are the class of the defense. The Buffs will have solid depth for many years at linebacker, assuming Jon Major recovers from his ACL injury and Doug Rippy continues to develop. I would expect the Buffs to take a couple more 'backers in the 2010 class to keep the continuity going. The linebacking depth is exactly what you want as a coach when you look at your group of players; a great mix of experience as well as young talent who are pushing the veterans. As for cornerback, the next two years look very solid as long as Jimmy Smith doesn't jump for the NFL early. I think he is still in need of all four years of college but if he has the year that I expect him to have, he may be tempted by the NFL scouts who would be drooling over a sub 4.5, 6'3" physical cornerback. After the next two years, the Buffs will need to get help at corner as you will be looking at all new starters after 2010 with not much known about the players behind the juniors and seniors.
The rest of the defensive positions, youth prevails. There are only three scholarship upperclassmen at defensive line and safety. The Buffs are young at safety with potential starters Patrick Mahnke and Anthony Perkins both sophomores but they gained valuable experience as freshmen. Defensive line continues to be the main question mark on the defense mostly because we don't know what we are going to get from the underclassmen, who will be forced to play this year. Guys like Eugene Goree, Conrad Obi, Lagrone Shields, Curtis Cunningham, Nick Kasa, Edward Nuckols, Nate Bonsu, Will Pericak, Lagrone Sheilds, etc. haven't showed us a lot because they are all first or second year players. They might be great but the doubt surrouding them is one reasons many Buff fans wonder if the team will turn the corner and get to that 8+ win mark.
On special teams, the Buffs had to take a kicker in the 2009 class in Zach Grossnickle after the dismal performance last year. Grossnickle (both a placekicker and punter) may technically be the only punter on the team after this season with starter Matt DiLallo graduating. Special teams is another part of the equation that most Buff fans forget about but shouldn't in evaluating the possible success next year. You name it, it went wrong in 2008 so improved play is a must.