The first time Derrick Webb came to Boulder was in January of 2009.

He was a senior at Whitehaven High School in Memphis. He came alone, hoping to find out for himself if the University of Colorado was a place he could spend the next four to five years of his life.

"I didn't really know what to expect," he said. "I thought it was going to be too cold to bear, so I came with a lot of clothes. It ended up being pretty nice weather and I just had an amazing visit."

That amazing visit has turned into an amazing four-plus years.

Now a senior, a captain and a starting linebacker for the Buffaloes, Webb is approaching his final game in a CU uniform. He and the Buffs (4-7, 1-7 Pac-12) will visit Utah (4-7, 1-7) on Saturday in the season finale for both teams.

Wins have been tough to come by during the five seasons he's been in Boulder, but great memories have not.

"There's been so many (great moments)," he said this week. "It is hard to narrow and come down to one. There have been some great wins, there have been some great plays that I have made that I'm proud of."

Because of CU's struggles to win -- the Buffs are 17-43 since he arrived -- Webb is the rare college football player that has played for three head coaches. He played for Dan Hawkins for two seasons, Jon Embree for two and this season for Mike MacIntyre.

The losing record and instability at the top of the program has been a disappointment. Yet, if there is an ounce of regret in Webb's 6-foot, 225-pound body, he hides it extremely well.

"I think I was just too committed to the program," he said of why he stayed through all the turmoil. "I loved every coach that came through here, from coach Hawkins, who gave me my first opportunity, to coach Embree, to coach MacIntyre. I got a lot of respect for all those guys, but it truly never was about the coaches for me.

"I came here to get an education and to play football at the highest level, and I did both of those, and I became a part of a family, a great family, here at CU. Ever since I put the black and gold on, it was about playing for those guys in the locker room, and it has been a long, hard four years, but I had those guys with me. I didn't go through it alone, and it made the experience that much better."

On the field, Webb earned a reputation very early on for being a fierce hitter. He has never been a star player, but he's been reliable and steady throughout his career. He has played in all 48 of the Buffs' games the past four seasons.

Statistically, Webb enters his final game with 244 career tackles -- needing just six more to become the 31st player in program history to reach 250. He led the team in tackles a year ago and will finish second this season.

His 79 career special teams points (earned for tackles and other big plays on special teams) ranks fourth in CU history. He might have made a push for the top two, but MacIntyre didn't use him very much on special teams this year.

In the locker room, Webb has been one of CU's best leaders in recent years. He was voted a team captain in 2012, as well as this season -- becoming one of just six players in CU history to be named a captain for two full seasons.

"I took that position and ran with it because it was something I had I wanted, since I came in as a freshman," he said.

His leadership was tested during a two-game stretch in the middle of the season when coaches gave much of Webb's playing time to junior Woodson Greer. Webb never flinched.

"You have to be a leader, even through that," he said. "You still have to be close (to the team) and know that everything that the coach is doing, you have to trust that it's for the good of the team. You just have to do your role as best as you can and just try to get better in what you need to get better at."

MacIntyre, who, like Webb, grew up in Tennessee, said Webb proved to be an invaluable member of the program this season.

"It would take me a while to talk about Derrick," MacIntyre said. "I almost tear up thinking about it because he is a true, true warrior. I know that word is used a lot but, if you watch him play, he runs and hits. He gives everything he has. After practice and after games he is exhausted. He truly is the kid that you would say 'empties the bucket.'"

Sure, Webb's career could have been better. But, he graduated in May with a degree in communications and will walk off the field on Saturday feeling good about the decision he made years ago when he first came to Boulder.

"I'm extremely proud," he said. "Winning is something that I wanted to do and it's something I worked extremely hard at. The results are what they are, but I still accomplished what I came here to accomplish: I got my degree, I met a lot of great people, I was a part of a great program.

"Even when I leave, I'll still be a Buff forever. It really means a lot to me to know that I'm a part of something special."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33.