2016 Top Returning Buffs Countdown: No. 8 to 5

The Buffaloes' starting quarterback, and the left tackle that will protect his blindside, are included in the second highest group in our Top Buffs Countdown.

No. 8

Senior Quarterback Sefo Liufau

Voting Breakdown: Adam Munsterteiger: No. 10 | Tyler Ziskin: No. 7 | Fans: No. 9

Liufau made a relatively quick recovery from the severe mid-foot injury that ended his junior season two-and-a-half games early. His availability for the start of camp helped reduce some of the sting of Davis Webb's decision to leave the Buffaloes at the altar. Liufau has 75 school records to his name already and he needs just 13 more yards through the air to take over the CU career passing yards record. If Liufau can combine his ability as a gunslinger in 2014 with his effectiveness as a runner in 2015, he might just lead the Buffs to a bowl game.

No. 7

Junior Outside Linebacker Derek McCartney

Voting Breakdown: Adam Munsterteiger: No. 9 | Tyler Ziskin: No. 4 | Fans: No. 10

McCartney will turn 23 years old in November and he already has an Integrative Physiology degree in hand, and yet he still has two years of eligibility remaining. He recorded a total of nine-and-a-half sacks as an underclassman, and led the Buffs with 16 quarterback hurries in 2015. Still, McCartney can improve on his consistency, especially when going against Pac-12 opponents. Both Athlon Sports and Phil Steele’s College Football selected him third-team preseason All-Pac-12. Will this be a true breakout season for McCartney?

No. 6

Senior Defensive Lineman Jordan Carrell

Voting Breakdown: Adam Munsterteiger: No. 11 | Tyler Ziskin: No. 3 | Fans: No. 5

A Junior College All-American at American River College in 2014 before transferring to Colorado, Carrell lived up to the hype in his first year with the Buffaloes. He played 82.6 percent of the Buffs' total plays on defense last season, the sixth-highest percentage by a defensive lineman at Colorado since they started tracking plays in 1987. Carrell recorded 52 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and 11 quarterback hurries. If he can become a more consistent tackler as a senior, Carrell has all-conference potential.

No. 5

Junior Offensive Tackle Jeromy Irwin

Voting Breakdown: Adam Munsterteiger: No. 6 | Tyler Ziskin: No. 5 | Fans: No. 6

Irwin suffered a torn ACL in the second quarter of the second game of the 2015 season, and Colorado's offensive line largely struggled in his absence. He is healthy, bigger, and ready to protect Liufau's blindside. Irwin has 23 career starts under his belt and since he is expected to be granted a medical redshirt, he is listed as a junior. In 2014, Irwin graded out at 85.7 percent for the season, and he had 40 knockdown blocks along with a team-best eight direct touchdown blocks. As long as Irwin stays healthy, the Buffs will get solid production at left tackle.

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