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Colorado senior linebacker Nate Landman recorded 137 tackles in 2019.
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After two full seasons as a starter at inside linebacker, Colorado’s Nate Landman is comfortable and confident in his game when he takes the field.

Entering his senior year, he’s also got confidence in the man next to him.

Fellow senior Akil Jones took over the starting job at the other inside linebacker spot midway through last season and enters this season atop the depth chart.

“Akil’s my guy; I love Akil,” said Landman, who recorded 137 tackles a year ago. “Ever since the beginning, Akil and I have been close. We study the playbook together, we watch film. He calls me if he needs questions answered and I call him. I love playing next to Akil, I feel completely comfortable and I trust everything he’s able to do.

“There’s often times where I’ll miss a call and he’ll be able to correct me or he’ll miss call and I can correct him so I think we play pretty well next to each other.”

Jones, who playing sparingly during his first three years at CU, had 61 tackles last year.

Landman said it’s not just Jones that makes him comfortable, though. Junior Jonathan Van Diest started early in the 2019 season and will fight for a starting role again.

“(That comfort) is that way throughout our whole linebacker corps and especially the older guys,” Landman said. “We have good synergy and the bond we have is great. Being able to have that shared experience on the field is great. I wouldn’t want to play next to anyone else.”

Backup plan

Last month,  Florida State head coach Mike Norvell tested positive for COVID-19, causing him to go into quarantine for 10 days and  miss the Seminoles’ 52-10 loss to Miami.

CU head coach Karl Dorrell is prepared in case the same happens to him.

“I do (have a plan) in my mind but I’m not really ready to release who that would be to (the media) yet,” Dorrell said. “That scenario came up because of Mike, to be honest with you. I figured that I need to have someone to be the next leader of the program, in case that did happen to me and I have put that thought into place. But I’m trying to be extra careful where I don’t get it.”

High praise

Seattle Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf has become a star in the NFL and was exceptional in the 27-26 win against Minnesota on Sunday, catching six passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns.

CU senior receiver KD Nixon recently referred to Buffs junior Daniel Arias as “DK Metcalf Jr.”

“He’s really nice, really talented,” Nixon said. “I can’t wait to see him and all the hard work pay off. I also know that Maurice Bell, Dimitri Stanley and all the other guys are ready to play out too. I feel like everybody will be ready. This is a receiver corps that we know that we’ve got to prove ourselves every year so I think it’s gonna be a great year.”

Nixon said he’s also enjoying seeing his good friend and former CU teammate Laviska Shenault Jr. enjoy success in the NFL. A rookie with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shenault has caught 23 passes for 270 yards and nine rushes for 53 yards. He’s one of only two NFL receivers in the past 25 years to post 200 receiving and 50 rushing yards in his first five career games.

“Seeing him ball out is something we supposed to do; that’s nothing new,” Nixon said. “There’s nothing that I’m surprised with. That’s our job. We’re supposed to ball.”

Notable

Walk-on quarterback Matthew Ryan, a junior from Glendale, Ariz., left the team over the weekend for an internship opportunity. … Another notable walk-on, defensive lineman Dante Sparaco, also recently left the team. A member of CU’s 2017 recruiting class, he transferred to Montana State in 2018, but returned last year as a walk-on. … Defensive back Chris Miller has been playing at the star position and safety and hopes to be a leader on defense. “If I could describe my game and what I want it to look like, I want to look like an effective, efficient, and physical player out there when I play; someone that gives a great amount of effort and knows his responsibilities,” he said. … The Buffs are scheduled for their first practice in full pads Tuesday.