Ever since Sefo Liufau went down with a season-ending foot injury on Nov. 13, the Colorado football team has held out hope that the senior quarterback would be ready to play this fall.
Liufau's availability is even more important today.
On Wednesday, Texas Tech transfer Davis Webb spurned the Buffs and decided to play his final season at Cal. A graduate transfer, Webb had committed to the Buffs on Jan. 27, and CU coaches had been preparing for his arrival.
Webb had the potential to be a top-notch starter in the Pac-12. At worst, he would have been an experienced veteran to either compete with a healthy Liufau or fill the shoes of an injured Liufau.
Having Webb might have allowed the Buffs to be extra cautious with Liufau and even let him sit out this season and come back in 2017 fully healthy.
Without Webb, the Buffs need Liufau to be fully recovered from the Lisfranc injury to his left foot because there isn't much experience behind him. Aside from Liufau, the Buffs are expected to have senior Jordan Gehrke (68 career passes) and a pair of freshmen — redshirt Steven Montez and true freshman Sam Noyer — who have never taken a snap in college.
While CU won't rush him into action before he's ready, plenty of signs point to Liufau being on the field when the Buffs report to camp in early August.
CU strength and conditioning coach Drew Wilson said there have been no setbacks in Liufau's recovery to this point.
"From my standpoint and from what I do, we're progressing," Wilson said. "From what I've seen, there's no hiccups in our plan and we're going to move forward and he's not complaining of anything."
Liufau has been throwing to receivers, and some fans have reported seeing him playing basketball.
With a Lisfranc injury, though, the true test won't come until Liufau plays football again and starts getting hit. The earliest that first hit would come would be against Colorado State in the opener on Sept. 2.
In the weight room, Wilson said Liufau has been able to squat and do full clean-and-jerk lifts, proving that the foot is getting stronger.
"The fact that he's able to squat and do Olympic lifting is a good sign," Wilson said, "because one is stationary strength and one is a dynamic strength/speed movement and both can tell you a lot of things on whether a guy can handle force and impact on his foot."
Liufau has reported no complications to Wilson. Liufau has admitted that in the past that he hasn't always been honest in revealing how he truly feels, but said in February he has opened up more to trainers since the injury.
"You have to read his eyes, you have to read his body language," Wilson said.
The body language has been good, and so has Liufau's leadership in the weight room. Liufau has said he feels the need to be a better leader, and appears to be doing that this offseason.
"He's been more vocal with the guys," Wilson said. "You're glad to see that because at that position, whether you're a natural born leader or not, you have to grow into a leader position."
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.