At 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighing in at just 160 pounds, Phillip Lindsay was one of the smallest players on the Colorado practice field during the fall of 2013.

He was also one of the loudest and perhaps the feistiest among the Buffaloes.

"He was on the scout field and two to three times a week, you just hear Phil's voice on the other side of the field getting in someone's face," center Alex Kelley said.

The running back from Denver South got in a few altercations on the field that season and even tangled with 6-foot-3, 325-pound defensive lineman Josh Tupou.

"I was in all kind of fights on the field," Lindsay said. "Coach (Mike MacIntyre) had to put me in timeout. He had his own timeout room for me. That's just who I was. I always was aggressive, I was always a dog."

Now a fourth-year junior, Lindsay has the same fire and passion as always, but he's smarter about how he channels it. No longer getting into fights on the field, Lindsay — now weighing in around 185 pounds — is among the top leaders for the Buffs. Lindsay is a "dog," but said if the Buffs are going to end a 10-year run of losing seasons, they need a few more dogs to emerge.

What exactly is a "dog"? Essentially, it's a player who has passion for the team, is willing to put in all the work necessary for the team and, above all else, will get on anybody around them who isn't following suit.

While Lindsay isn't perfect and he admits he's had a few moments during his career when he needed motivation, he earned respect back in 2013 that continues today.


"A lot of them wanted to kill me (in 2013), but I didn't care," he said. "That's who I was.

"That's how I got my respect and people trust me and people started to know that when I get on that field, I'm going to back it up."

Kelley said it was crazy to see a little freshman command such respect, and that respect has only grown over the years.

"When he gets going, people listen, myself included," Kelley said. "He's the kind of person where if you're lifting or you're running and he demands one more rep or one more 40-yard sprint, you're like, 'OK, I can do it for you. You're a person I can follow.' "

As Lindsay talks about the upcoming 2016, which is a pivotal one for a program that hasn't won more than four games in the past five seasons, he believes there are now more players like him. More players that are commanding respect. More players who can pull the Buffs out of the doldrums.

"The majority of them can be dogs in their own way," he said. "You don't have to hoot and holler, but they can say what they have to say if someone isn't doing something right."

Since Lindsay arrived in Boulder, he said there have been a lot of situations where players have spoken up to motivate their teammates. But the talkers haven't always been doers.

"There's so many people that say it but don't back it up themselves, so people don't trust that," Lindsay said.

That appears to be changing, though. Lindsay mentioned several of his teammates who not only talk, but back it up. He specifically mentioned cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, safety Tedric Thompson and quarterback Sefo Liufau.

Kelley said this offseason has seen others step up, too. With a large group of juniors and seniors, there's a sense that the Buffs are not only more mature, but are more willing to do all that's necessary to end the losing.

"People that you wouldn't expect to step up have started to step up," Kelley said. "(Tight end) Sean Irwin and (fullback) George Frazier have had the most impact so far."

A change in attitude is essential because during a 4-9 season this past fall the Buffs didn't often have the right attitude, Lindsay said.

The Buffs had a great offseason going into the 2015 season and every day seemed to be smooth, but it didn't carry over to the season opener in Hawaii.

"Once you get in that game and you start getting punched in your mouth a little bit, you start to see who really rides for you, who really has your back, or who is just here for the ride," Lindsay said. "I think we had too many people that were just for the ride."

Lindsay believes the biggest problem with the 2015 Buffs was selfishness. Too many players were upset with their personal playing time, or disappointed with playing a role on special teams, rather than a more desirable role on offense or defense.

"The kids on the special teams, they have to want it," Lindsay said.

Going into last year, the Buffs believed selfishness wouldn't be a problem because they had leadership figured out, or so they thought, by establishing a 12-player leadership council.

"It's good if everybody on there is a true leader, if everybody on there is doing the right things," said Lindsay, who was a part of that council. "I wouldn't say everybody on there is a true leader. I feel like a lot of people on there were popular or most liked."

Ultimately, Lindsay said, the key to CU succeeding doesn't lie with the appointed leaders or captains. It comes down to every player on the roster doing their part.

"We shouldn't have to have just 12 leaders," he said. "It should be everybody. Stop being selfish, worry about the man next to you and we're going to be fine"

Kelley and Lindsay both indicated that the Buffs are getting there, and they've been more accountable to each other in offseason workouts.

Once fall hits, the Buffs shouldn't need a little freshman getting in everybody's face. Lindsay eventually figured out a different way to motivate his teammates. Now he hopes they follow him.

"I'm not here to fight my teammates," he said. "I'm here to win games."

Brian Howell:, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.