Over the next three weeks, BSN Buffs will be breaking down our top 20 Colorado Buffaloes entering the fall of 2017. These rankings were voted on by BSN Buffs editor Jake Shapiro and staff Chase Howell and Sam Weaver.
The loss of three starting defensive backs to the NFL would be daunting for most teams, but the Colorado Buffaloes have been stockpiling talent in their secondary. BSN Denver's own Top 20 countdown has featured four cornerbacks and safeties, with rising junior Isaiah Oliver topping the list.
Oliver is a dual-sport athlete, leaving his legacy in both football and track and field at Colorado. His incredible athleticism and speed make him a dangerous weapon in the defensive backfield, and despite playing behind two future NFL stars last season in Chidobe Awuzie and Akhello Witherspoon, Oliver still saw plenty of snaps. This year, he will return as a leader of the secondary and a starter at cornerback.
Oliver has played in every game since arriving at CU, including all 13 matchups as a true freshman. Last season, he tallied 56 total tackles, a forced fumble, 13 passes broken up and an interception at the corner position. He was also a big contributor as a punt returner in the second half of the season, scoring a 68-yard touchdown against UCLA.
The future NFL draft pick has shown impressive coverage ability and ball awareness, nabbing his first career interception in the final minutes of a close win over Stanford. As a starter, Oliver will have the opportunity to truly shine at his position, wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks and receivers. Alongside fellow defensive backs Afolabi Laguda, Anthony Julmisse, Nick Fisher and others, Oliver will look to continue the disruptive style of play that made the Buffs so successful last season.
Colorado's defensive prowess paved the way to a Pac-12 Championship bout and bowl game last year, and the Buffaloes are hoping to build on that momentum in 2017. Oliver and the rest of Money Gang will be immensely important to the team's goals for this season, as CU hopes to cement their status as contenders in college football. Oliver's leadership and athleticism, along with a bevy of other young talent, could pave the way for the most successful group of Buffs defensive backs yet.