After shoulder surgery, Jacob Callier aims to regain freshman form with CU Buffs football

OLB wants to be more than pass rush specialist

John Leyba / The Denver Post
Colorado linebacker Jacob Callier played in 11 games as a true freshman in 2017 and was credited with a team-leading 11 quarterback pressures

In one respect, Jacob Callier made an immediate impact when he joined the Colorado football team in 2017.

After a season spent partially playing in pain before being sent to the sideline, and then the surgical ward, Callier remains eager to show Buffaloes fans so much more.

It basically was a lost season last fall for Callier, who as a freshman a year earlier turned heads with his consistent ability to harass opposing quarterbacks from his outside linebacker position, which in CU’s 3-4 defense often serves the function of a traditional defensive end. Callier entered his sophomore season hoping to prove he can play a bigger role than simply being a pass rush specialist, but an injury derailed those goals.

Now healthy, Callier remains focused on proving his all-around worth as a player who can do more than make opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable.

“For sure, this year you’ll see me on the field more as an every-down guy,” Callier said. “Last year I got hurt, so everybody wasn’t really able to see what I could do like that. This year, there’s a little saying I’ve got: ‘I can show you guys better than I can tell you.’ That’s where I’m at.”

Callier played in 11 games as a true freshman in 2017 and was credited with a team-leading 11 quarterback pressures, recording his first career sack in his first collegiate game against Colorado State. Callier is believed to be just the second Buffs freshman since 1984 to record a sack in his first game.

Callier didn’t get to the quarterback again in 2017 but harassed plenty of them before the season’s end. He had hoped to build on that production in 2018 but suffered a shoulder injury in the opener against CSU. Callier attempted to play through the injury but eventually opted for surgery, going to the sidelines after the fourth game in order to still retain his sophomore season of eligibility.

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Colorado linebacker Jacob Callier recorded six tackles in the spring game.

Fully recovered and hoping to regain his 2017 form, Callier recorded six tackles and was credited with a quarterback sack during the Buffs’ spring game on April 27. He expressed enthusiasm about the tougher mindset being instilled by first-year head coach Mel Tucker, and Callier ended the spring listed at No. 2 on the depth chart at one of the outside linebacker slots.

“I had six months of recovery and (at the spring game) it felt great,” Callier said. “I’ve felt no pain. Just trying to stay mentally strong with it. It’s always mental coming off surgery. Everything doesn’t always go as plan. You just have to stick with it. Honestly, I didn’t have that big a problem coming into (spring) mentally. I’ve been playing football my whole life and it’s just mental. If I come into it thinking I’m going to get hurt, I’m going to get hurt. You just kind of put down your head and try to perform 100 percent.

“The process had been great. I love coach Tucker, he’s a great coach. He brings a lot of physicality to the team and he’s changing the University of Colorado around. I love it.”