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Colorado Buffaloes Most Important Players: #21 Jacob Callier

The young pass rusher is big for next year

NCAA Football: Washington at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Jacob Callier had an interesting stat-line as a freshman. He recorded a sack in his first ever college game against CSU, but after that, he was kept out of the backfield. He didn’t record a stat in six games this year. All in all, he ended up with seven tackles and a sack, as well as a team-leading 11 QB hurries, and is somehow credited with eight forced fumbles by ESPN.

Let me tell you this right now, if Jacob Callier foces 1.15 fumbles per tackle in 2018, CU is winning double digit games and Callier will win the Heisman. But alas, that rate is impossible to keep up, which means we must temper our expectations a bit.

Callier is on this list because rushing the passer has never been Mike MacIntyre’s strong suit. A good pass rusher can change a defense. Callier has a chance to be that difference-maker. He has shown enough potential to excite the fan base. The reason that Callier isn’t higher on this list is because of how crowded his position is. Jacob Callier plays outside linebacker for the Buffs (after converting from a down lineman in high school), but his more accurate position is edge-rusher. That can mean a lot of things in this multiple front defense. CU has done a good job stacking the roster with athletic guys who can fit on the edge of the line of scrimmage. Combining the outside linebacker and the “Buffbacker” positions, there are no less than four other players who could reasonably start on the outside. Callier has plenty of depth around him, which limits his necessity.

In general, Callier has a relentless motor, and given how he was already a productive pass-rusher in limited snaps as a freshman, he is expected to contribute in a big way next year. At 6’2 and 240 pounds, he lacks the prototypical reach of a pass rusher, but he is stout at the point of the attack and he can bend well. I look for Callier to improve against run blocking. If he can prove that he can hold the edge against power or trap plays, he will see the field a lot more. Another big step forward would be translating those hurries into sacks. If CU can get 5 or 6 sacks out of Jacob Callier in 2018, with or without the forced fumbles, the defense will take a big step forward.