Prior to the start of the season, in August, Colorado linebacker Nate Landman said he believed he was a better player than ever before.
That was a bold claim considering Landman was already really good, and at the time was just eight months removed from a ruptured Achilles’ tendon – an injury that can take a year or more for complete recovery.
Five games into his senior season, however, Landman is backing that up, leading Buffs (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12) with 53 tackles, including 43 solo stops. He’s also got five tackles for loss, seven tackles for zero yards and a team-high three pass breakups.
“Yeah, I feel like I’m moving around well,” Landman said. “Still some uncharacteristic missed tackles and stuff like that, but I think from the stuff I’m doing schematically and in the new defense we’re running, I think I’m doing a pretty good job. That’s a credit to the guys around me.
“Having Carson Wells out there with me in leadership and Quinn Perry and our D-line allows me to make those kinds of plays. But, yeah I do feel healthy and I feel like I’m having a pretty good season coming off that injury.”
Although the Buffs, who host Arizona (0-5, 0-2) on Saturday at Folsom Field (1:30 p.m., TV: Pac-12 Network) after a bye this weekend, are struggling overall, Landman continues to show up each week and lead the defense.
Against Southern California on Oct. 2, Landman recorded 11 tackles. It was his fourth consecutive double-digit tackle game and the 22nd of his career. Only four players in CU history have had more.
In his career, Landman has 391 tackles, which ranks sixth in CU history. He won’t catch Barry Remington’s record of 493, from 1982-86, but Landman is on pace to finish second.
Landman said he doesn’t pay attention to where his statistics rank, but his father does. Landman is aware, however, of the mark he can leave on CU.
“Everybody’s got their ‘why’ and I’ve got a couple a couple of whys,” he said of his motivation. “Definitely I want to leave my mark on this university and be one of those guys to be remembered and that’s huge because I love this university. It’s done so much for me and I want to do a lot for it and go down in the history books for the school.”
Most importantly, though, Landman wants to make an impact on the current Buffs and he continues to step up as a leader on a weekly basis.
“Nate’s the general,” linebacker Robert Barnes said last month. “Nate is one of those guys where you have no doubt in your mind that man next to you is gonna make the plays he needs to make. You can see it in his preparation. I like to look at how guys prepare and every week when he goes out there and performs like that it’s because he’s making those plays in practice. Everything you see in that game he’s doing it in practice.”
While most of what Landman has done this season is typical of his entire career, the All-American candidate and 2022 NFL Draft hopeful has seemingly brought a new level of “want-to” this season.
“Maybe it seems like that because it’s my last year and I know I’ve got limited time here,” he said. “I kind of just have got to give it all this last season and it’s that last jump until I try to make the next level. You only get to play college football for a certain amount of time. So I’m excited to have this year back. Each week that counts down less and less, so I gotta go out there and make the most of my time.”
Arizona lost to UCLA, 34-16, on Saturday, extending its school-record losing streak to 17 games. The Wildcats’ last win came on its most recent trip to Boulder, defeating the Buffs 35-30 on Oct.5, 2019. … The Buffs are 1-6 – including 0-6 against FBS teams – since a 24-13 win at Arizona on Dec. 5.