Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
As the starting quarterback and captain at Colorado the last few years, finding the motivation to work on his game was never difficult for Sefo Liufau.
These days, Liufau isn’t on a team and he doesn’t have dozens of teammates around to push him to work, but the motivation hasn’t gone away.
Liufau is one of several former Buffaloes hoping to hear their name called during the NFL draft this weekend. Although he’s projected as a late-round pick at best — and most project him as a free agent signee after the draft — Liufau wakes up every morning motivated to earn an opportunity from somebody.
“I think there’s a lot of self motivation,” said Liufau, who is CU’s all-time leading passer. “If you have some goals in mind and things you want to accomplish and you have a why for what you’re doing, it’s easy to get up in the morning and say, ‘I’m going to go do this.'”
CU hasn’t had a quarterback drafted since Koy Detmer in 1997, but Liufau has put himself in the minds of NFL general managers because of the work he put in during his time in Boulder.
A three-year captain and four-year starter, Liufau broke nearly 100 records at CU, with his greatest accomplishment coming last year when he guided the Buffs to a 10-4 record and Pac-12 South division title.
Liufau’s toughness and leadership have often been viewed as his main strengths, but since he played his last game as a Buff on Dec. 29 at the Alamo Bowl, he believes he’s become a better passer, too.
“I definitely think my mechanics of throwing are a little bit better, which is important for me,” said Liufau, who has been working out near his home in Tacoma, Wash. “It’s been a question people have been asking about me, but I think I’ve improved on that and I’ve put some good showings out there. I’m really happy with that progress.”
Liufau credits CU’s coaches for getting him ready for this opportunity, but said he’s learned that there are certainly differences in preparing for the NFL compared to preparing for college. Mainly, he’s learned that the margin for error that’s afforded to college players is not there for NFL hopefuls.
“It’s important to come out every day like it’s your last and try to make a great impression on everyone, whether you’re an all-star, a rookie or whatever,” he said. “You have to act like a professional and you have to go out there every day with a workman’s mentality and give it everything you have.”
In the past four months, Liufau said he’s learned the value of doing the little things as a quarterback.
“It’s important to focus on everything and make sure nothing is left unturned or is left without some sort of emphasis,” he said. “It’s all important.”
Working on all the little things over the past few months has helped Liufau improve, and he hopes that one of the 32 teams in the NFL will take a chance on him.
“I think once I get out there and show my personality, leadership and everything I can bring to the table to a team, I think I can eventually work my way onto a roster,” he said. “I believe I work really hard and I give everything I have every day to this game which I’ve been playing for so long and really love.”
Like many draft hopefuls, Liufau said this week has been “kind of slow” in waiting for the draft to begin. Liufau will be eager to see where his former CU teammates wind up, and he’ll watch the draft at home with family and friends.
Several teams have expressed interest in him, including his hometown Seattle Seahawks. He said, however, it doesn’t matter if he hears his name called during the draft or gets a free agent offer afterward.
“I’m just overall excited to hopefully have the opportunity to go somewhere and play football,” he said. “I’m just looking for a shot. As long as I get that, I’ll totally be happy with that.”
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.