2016 Top Returning Buffs Countdown: No. 4 to 1

We have made it to the final group in our Top Buffs Countdown, and there is no controversy over No. 1.

No. 4

Junior Wide Receiver Shay Fields

Voting Breakdown: Adam Munsterteiger: No. 3 | Tyler Ziskin: No. 8 | Fans: No. 4

Fields finished second on the team behind Nelson Spruce with 42 receptions and tied for the team lead in receiving touchdowns last season, despite being limited throughout the second half of the season with a high ankle sprain. A confident pass catcher with great hands, Fields is expected to take over as the Buffs' top receiver with help from talented Junior College addition Juwann Winfree and slot receiver Devin Ross. As an underclassman, Fields had five plays of 50 yards or longer, and four longer than 60 yards.

No. 3

Senior Nose Tackle Josh Tupou

Voting Breakdown: Adam Munsterteiger: No. 4 | Tyler Ziskin: No. 6 | Fans: No. 3

With 31 starts under his belt, Tupou has plenty of experience at the Pac-12 level. He just has to work off the rust during camp after a year-long absence from campus due to suspension. With his wide frame, Tupou is a perfect fit for the nose tackle role in Jim Leavitt's defensive scheme. He also has the blue-collar, physical mentality needed to take on multiple blockers and leave the glory for other players. As long as he gets in football shape and stays healthy, Tupou will make the Buffs' inside linebackers look good in 2016.

No. 2

Senior Safety Tedric Thompson

Voting Breakdown: Adam Munsterteiger: No. 2 | Tyler Ziskin: No. 2 | Fans: No. 2

Phil Steele's College Football ranks Thompson as the No. 17 strong safety in the nation going into the 2016 season. He tied for third on the team in tackles and interceptions as a junior, and was named honorable mention all-conference. Thompson is a hard hitter that also has a knack for being in the right place at the right time when it comes to creating turnovers. Aside from a four game stretch late during his sophomore season when he was sidelined due to a head injury, Thompson has been a steady presence in the Buffs' secondary.

No. 1

Defensive Back Chidobe Awuzie

Voting Breakdown: Adam Munsterteiger: No. 1 | Tyler Ziskin: No. 1 | Fans: No. 1

Awuzie has been a fan favorite in Boulder since he stepped foot on campus in 2013, and now he is starting to get attention on a national level. He is on the Jim Thorpe Award, Bronko Nagurski Award and Chuck Bednarik Award preseason watch lists. Awuzie is also listed among the nation's top 90 college football players by NFL.com and he was a unanimous second-team All-Pac-12 choice by the major preseason publications. Awuzie's versatility, closing speed and his ability to wrap up makes him a special talent. He will be used at both cornerback and nickel back this fall, and is an emergency option at safety.

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