Former Colorado team captain Chidera Uzo-Diribe will play in the 89th East-West Shrine game Jan. 18 in his next big step toward an NFL career.
Uzo-Diribe has played just six full seasons of organized football. His first came in his junior year of high school. He was a regular contributor all four years at CU and one of the team's best players as a junior and senior.
Uzo-Diribe led the nation in forced fumbles for much of the 2013 season before finishing the year in a tie for second with several other players. He will get a chance to show his turnover-causing abilities for all 32 NFL franchises at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., in three weeks.
"It means a lot being recognized as one of the top seniors in the country to play in a game like that," Uzo-Diribe said. "I'm just hoping to get out of it a good week of practice to impress the scouts and stuff like that."
Safety Parker Orms is the only other CU player expected to play in a postseason all-star game. Orms was invited to the Medal of Honor game in South Carolina that takes place Jan. 11.
Uzo-Diribe played defensive end for the Buffs, but he is mostly liked a pass-rushing outside linebacker at the pro level. He said he is prepared for that role.
He is the most likely member of the CU senior class to be drafted in April. Junior wide receiver Paul Richardson, who decided to turn pro earlier this month, is likely to be CU's highest pick.
Other members of the senior class such as linebacker Derrick Webb, offensive linemen Jack Harris and Gus Handler and longsnapper Ryan Iverson also should get opportunities to play professionally.
Uzo-Diribe will be on campus this spring finishing his final three classes. He will train in Englewood with Loren Landow, who has worked with hundreds of former college stars, including plenty of Buffs.
Uzo-Diribe said his cousin, NFL veteran Osi Umenyiora, guided him through the process of selecting an agent in the month since his CU career ended.
Uzo-Diribe said he has talked with former teammates Toney Clemons, Will Pericak, David Bakhtiari and Nick Kasas about what to expect over the next few months and how to approach the entire process or preparing for pro football.
He said the advice that sticks out from those conversations is "When you get your shot to take advantage of all the opportunities that you have. Don't let it slip away basically."
Linebacker Addison Gillam and running back Michael Adkins II underwent postseason minor arthroscopic knee surgeries and are expected to be healthy for the start of spring practices. Defensive end Jimmie Gilbert underwent shoulder surgery and his availability for spring remains uncertain.