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Colorado Buffaloes Football: Herb Orvis dead at 73

Legendary Buffs defender was a force to be reckon with on the field

Denver Post Archives Denver Post via Getty Images

Colorado Buffaloes legendary defender Herb Orvis passed away on Friday Morning following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 73.

Orvis was the latest Buffs player to officially be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016. A fierce competitor for Eddie Crowder’s teams in the late 60’s and early 70’s, Orvis came into Boulder as a 21-year-old freshman after serving in the United State Army. He had joined the service prior to his senior year at Flint (Mich.) Beecher High School, and would earn his diploma after serving overseas.

“He gives us the kind of lift on defense that a Cliff Branch run back does on offense,” Mora said about Orvis during his playing days. “It’s the kind of thing you can’t really explain. It’s electric in its makeup and it sometimes can turn a game around.”

The 1969 Liberty Bowl was a highlight for Orvis’ career at CU. A well-rounded Buffs team traveled into Memphis to face Bear Bryant’s Alabama. Quarterback Scott Hunter remembered how effective Orvis was at breaking down the Crimson Tide’s offensive line. “Colorado was bigger and stronger than we were,” Hunter said in 2015 interview. “Orvis was working over our offensive tackle and every time I went back to throw, I couldn’t get the ball off.”

Orvis left Colorado as an All-American his senior year in 1971, along with being named a two-time first-team All-Big Eight Conference performer during his career. He also played a significant in CU’s 1971 season in helping the Buffs to a 10-2 record and No. 3 final national ranking, both school-bests at the time. It was also the only time in college football history teams from the same conference finished 1-2-3 in the final rankings (No. 1 Nebraska, No. 2 Oklahoma). Orvis had 46 tackles, six for losses and three sacks that year.

National Football Foundation President and CEO, Steve Hatchell, was the head manager on the CU equipment staff as a student when Orvis first arrived in Boulder and then was hired full-time as an assistant to Crowder and as the director equipment and grounds in 1970. He was witness first-hand to Orvis’ caliber of play.

”Herb Orvis caused nightmares for opposing offenses during a Hall of Fame career at Colorado,” Hatchell recalled. “He had another gear, another level, and when he became angry or very intense he could be unstoppable. Remember, he was unanimous All-Decade for the Big Eight when the conference was the best in the country. He had everyone’s respect. People always asked me for a long time when they made the connection between me and CU, did I know Orvis, what was he really like. He was something else. People didn’t just say, Herb was good – they said he was something else.”

At Herb’s request, no public services will be held; he is donating his brain for scientific research to the CTE Center at Boston University. In lieu of flowers, he requested those interested can send memorial gifts made out to the CU Foundation c/o Buff Club, Champions Center, 369 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309 (attn.: Scott McMichael;