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.

Derek McCartney looked like someone that was going to be a huge part of Colorado’s dominating defense during the 2016 season. That didn’t come to fruition as McCartney suffered a season-ending ACL injury against Michigan in the third game of the season.

The highlight of McCartney’s season was a few players before tearing his ACL, where he picked up a fumble on took it to the house at the Big House. That touchdown gave the Buffaloes a 14-0 lead and it’s also the play that made CU fans start believing that the rise was indeed real.

McCartney was extremely productive during his sophomore season in 2015, racking up 70 tackles with 15 of them being behind the line of scrimmage. He has also played a pretty substantial leadership role, being voted as a team captain the last two seasons.

This season, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound outside linebacker will be coming for revenge after what happened the previous year. With the departure of Jimmie Gilbert, McCartney will have to play an even bigger role in rushing the passer and he’ll have to be just as good in the run game.

McCartney will be the foundation of closing off the edge to opposing offense. If the defense wants to be successful, McCartney will be one of the guys running around and making plays.

He’s one of the leaders of the defensive line and has by far the most experience out of anyone still there, turning 24 this season. McCartney’s health and form will be one of the main keys in their hope to repeat as Pac-12 South Champs.

View the full list here

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As a sophomore at the University of Colorado-Boulder and a Colorado native, Chase has loved Colorado sports since he was born. He is working towards a degree in the College of Media, Communication, and Information. Chase covers the CU Buffs and DU hockey for BSN Denver. Follow him on twitter for all things Colorado sports @bychasehowell.