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 departure of Tedric Thompson, Ahkello Witherspoon and Chidobe Awuzie to the NFL has left a void in the Colorado secondary, both in starting-caliber talent and leadership. As the Colorado Buffaloes look to repeat their defensive success of 2016, senior safety Afolabi Laguda will step in to fill each vacancy.

The recently-elected team captain started all 13 games at free safety last season and was an underrated part of the nation’s third-ranked pass defense. He racked up 66 total tackles, one tackle for loss, four passes defended, a fumble recovery and an interception on the year, making a name for himself alongside those who displayed physical style of play that made Colorado successful.

Laguda has not missed a single game in two years at Colorado, playing in every matchup of the 2015 season before moving to starter in 2016. Despite inconsistencies in his production last year, Laguda has demonstrated the ability to make plays on defense. He has continued to improve over his career with the Buffs, emerging as a hard hitter and disruptive threat in the backfield. He has also demonstrated the drive that pushed the rise and rejuvenation of Colorado Football.

This season, Laguda will be joined by Nick Fisher, Ryan Moeller Anthony Julmisse and Isaiah Oliver in the defensive backfield. Laguda and Oliver will take the leadership role in the secondary. Colorado’s depth at defensive back should ease the transition of replacing three starters in Thompson, Witherspoon and Awuzie.

Laguda has flashed playmaker potential on the field for the Buffs, and this season is his shot at leaving a legacy of his own. Laguda’s evolution will be huge for Colorado’s team goals in 2017, as the veteran safety hopes to extend the Buffaloes defensive success.

View the full list here

Sam is a sports writer and photographer from Austin, Texas. She covers the Colorado Buffaloes for BSN Denver and the NFL for SB Nation. Twitter and Instagram: @SamanthaNWeaver