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In football, all of the attention seems to focus on the players that play skilled positions and the positions that are putting up all of the easy to mark stats. But if asked, any coach or player would tell you that it’s the trenches where football games are won. The guy that has been key to winning the battle in the trenches for the Colorado Buffaloes defense is big No. 58, Josh Tupou.

Last year’s Buffs suffered a huge blow when the 6-foot-3, 325-pound Tupou violated team rules and was suspended for the season. Tupou was a three-year starter from 2012-14 and it was beginning to look he was on the fast-tract to the NFL following his career at CU.

Everyone deals with adversity differently, Tupou dealt with it the way any coach would want out of a player. He used that time to become a better person and football player. Tupou spent a lot of time in the gym cutting weight to, “get faster, have more stamina and play more plays.”

“[Last season] taught me to appreciate the little things and to not take anything for granted,” Tupou said, when asked what he learned from last season. “It’s a huge privilege to play college football, especially at the Division One level.”

All of the work in the offseason has paid off, Tupou has helped the Buffaloes to a 6-2 record, good for the lead in the Pac-12 South. Tupou isn’t the only reason the Buffs are atop the Pac-12 South, but playing nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme is one of the most thankless jobs in sports. He deserves a ton of praise for the job he’s done clogging up the middle in the run game and taking on multiple offensive linemen in order to get teammates free.

Without even considering his lost time, Tupou is having quite an impressive senior season, totaling 28 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. But it’s not the numbers that are important to the big guys, it’s about opening up lanes for other players to make plays, such as Jimmie Gilbert, who is currently second in the Pac-12 in sacks.

Tupou says that it’s important to appreciate the little things, but football fans should start appreciating the big things. Nose guard is one of the most under-appreciated jobs in sports, they are usually the unsung heroes on the team, and Tupou is no different.

When asked if he ever feels under-appreciated Tupou said, “I’m just doing my job to help the team win.”

If Tupou keeps doing his job, he’ll be well on his way to playing on Sundays. More pertinent to the present, Colorado will be in Pasadena on January, 2.

As a freshman 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.