Three of the seven most important Colorado Buffaloes are defensive lineman. Terrance Lang was 7th, Jalen Sami is 6th and Mustafa Johnson is 3rd. Not only is the defensive line crucial to this team’s success, but CU doesn’t have any depth behind the three starters. Johnson should be a star and Lang looks like he’s going to be really good (maybe not this year), but Sami — sah-me, not sammy — is a complete unknown whose play at nose tackle is critical for the Buffs.
Sami is massive — emphasis on the ass. He’s 6’6, 320-lbs. He looks heavier, somehow. He’s also a redshirt freshman who is still very much in development. The good part is that size is half the battle at nose tackle. The Buffs’ starting nose tackles the past three years, Javier “Too Sexy” Edwards and Josh Tupou, were both 6’3, 325. Both are in the NFL as professional space eaters. Sami is bigger than them both and he’s still just 20 years old. (He was bigger last year, btw, but had to get into better playing shape.)
Sami is crucial because the nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme is the inflection point in the run game. Nose tackles can cause havoc just by occupying space or requiring multiple blockers, which frees up the linebackers and other defensive lineman to make plays in space. A good nose tackle makes an impact without recording a tackle; they are the ultimate team defenders whose girth is their sacrifice.
No one knows how good Sami will be, this year or beyond. There have been reports that he’s improved quite a bit during spring and fall camps, so there’s hope he can be at least solid in his first year playing. The Buffs don’t have any other options if he struggles. Behind him they have true freshman Austin Williams, who’s 6-5, 320, but he’s more raw than Sami. And if Sami exceeds expectations, suddenly Johnson and Lang, as well as Nate Landman and Jonathan van Diest, will have an even larger impact.