Terrance Lang wasn’t originally supposed to be a part of the Colorado football team in 2022.
“It was never part of my plan at all,” he said with a laugh after a spring practice last week. “I never thought I’d be here for six seasons, but at the end of the day, I feel like everything happens for a reason. I just look at it as a chance to grow and learn that much more.”
When the NCAA announced that the 2020 season wouldn’t count toward eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic, all players were granted an extra year. Now one of CU’s oldest players, Lang, 23, is taking advantage of the opportunity as the Buffs look to rebound from a 4-8 season.
“I feel like I’m a lot more mature with the game of football, just learning different positions, different techniques, different styles of play,” said Lang, a 6-foot-7, 290-pound defensive end. “I’ve had a lot of different insight from different coaches.”
Lang’s had more coaches than he ever imagined.
Since joining CU in 2017, he’s played for three head coaches: Mike MacIntyre, Mel Tucker and now Karl Dorrell.
Lang had four different defensive line coaches in his first five years: Jim Jeffcoat, Kwahn Drake, Jimmy Brumbaugh and Chris Wilson. Now, the Buffs have a new coach, Gerald Chatman. Add in Vic So’oto, who was on staff for about two months this winter before leaving for California and Lang has had six position coaches.
“From the aspect of learning from a lot of different guys, that can be a good thing,” he said. “I’ve got the perspective of so many different good coaches and I can take all of that and apply it in one. There’s always going to be some adversity you’ve got to face and at the end of day, you’ve got to be able to adjust to change. So that’s what we’re doing.”
Wilson is still on staff as the defensive coordinator, but now working with outside linebackers, so Lang still hears his voice. Lang is also quickly learning from Chatman, who is bringing something new to the table.
“It’s only been a few weeks (with Chatman), but the group is growing tight,” Lang said. “We’re a collective effort to bring this thing along. Coach Chatman is teaching us a lot of new techniques, a lot of ways as far as using our hands, hips, feet, getting off the ball. He teaches a lot of the same things that coach Chris teaches, but the technique is just a little bit more defined.”
For Lang, it’s simply adding to what he’s already learned.
“I’m able to take all that information and put it all together and I’ve already played in a lot of these techniques,” he said. “I’m just trying to sharpen my game to take it to the next level.”
Through all the changes, Lang has been a steady presence for the Buffs’ defense. He has played in 40 games, 27 of them as a starter, while racking up 85 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss.
Last year, Lang led CU’s defensive linemen in snaps played (589), but when asked what he can improve this year, he didn’t hesitate with a one-word answer: “Production.”
Lang had just 1.5 sacks and 3.5 TFLs last year.
“There was a lot of plays I left on the field but I’m working with coach Chatman now to clean up, to work on finishing on the quarterback and actually making plays that once I win my one-on-one to actually finish and make the play,” he said. “I mean, tackles are cool, but I want to make game-changing plays this year, plays that are really going to change the game and give us an edge.”
CU’s defensive scheme could help. More so than in previous years, Lang said the Buffs are utilizing four-man fronts and that is more conducive to Lang’s skill set.
“I’m gonna be pretty much focused on playing outside edge, so I can hone in on that technique and really just focus on that and get it right,” he said. “I believe I am a strong side end and it’ll allow me to be in space and hopefully make more plays.”
Off the field, Lang is set to graduate in May, becoming the first in his immediate family to earn a university degree, he said.
“I’m extremely proud that I’m going to get my degree here,” he said. “There was one thing that I kind of just had to get done before I left here; there’s no way I was going to leave without getting it done.”
Now that his degree is almost complete, Lang is eager for one last season with the Buffaloes and said, “At this point I’m just locked in on football.”