Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Sefo Liufau already has rewritten the University of Colorado football record book. With his senior season starting, undoubtedly there will be a few more chapters added to that ongoing rewrite.
Yet with his health fully restored and an outside threat to his seat atop the Buffaloes’ depth chart now just an odd footnote in the program’s history, Liufau knows there remains much work to be done. According to the senior quarterback, all his records — a whopping 75 school marks and counting — mean little when compared to the 10 total wins he has been able to celebrate since he became a regular part of CU’s attack in 2013.
In a spirit that will make Buffs fans proud, Liufau is far less concerned with his continued assault on the CU record book than making sure his senior season if highlighted by a few more of those winning celebrations.
“Ultimately my main goal is to win with this team,” Liufau said. “If we don’t win this year, then I’ll feel like I haven’t left the program in better shape than when I came. I just want to give everything I can back to this team, to this university, for trusting me with the team for four years. It’s all-or-nothing this year.”
For a guy who could own the most prestigious of all passing records after his next completion — Liufau needs just 13 yards to surpass Cody Hawkins’ record total of 7,397 career passing yards — Liufau found his status as the Buffs’ leader threatened from several angles during a long and eventful offseason.
First and foremost was his recovery from a Lisfranc (foot) injury he suffered early in last November’s home game against Southern Cal, a setback that ended Liufau’s junior season and kept him shelved through spring practice.
The silver lining of Liufau’s extended convalescence was that he also was able to let a nagging shoulder injury heal that often prevented him from throwing during practice last year. Through the first two days of CU’s preseason workouts Liufau has reported no lingering issues with his surgically repaired foot.
“He was making all the benchmarks with how that progresses,” head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “It’s the seventh one I’ve gone through as a head coach…everybody that I’ve dealt with has had different scenarios. The good thing is (Liufau) had one pin go in, it was a clean break. When you have two pins in there, I’ve had problems with those guys being able to get back on time.
“He’s done everything he’s been asked and he’s even trimmed down some more, lost a little body weight and gained a little muscle. So he took advantage of the situation. He’s made great strides so far.”
Just the second player in the 127-year history of the CU program to be named a team captain in three consecutive seasons, the Buffs clearly are Liufau’s team.
Yet even without his injury question mark, Liufau’s team very nearly became Davis Webb’s team during the offseason. A much-ballyhooed graduate transfer from Texas Tech, Webb originally committed to the Buffs and might very well have supplanted Liufau as the team’s starter. Webb ultimately reversed that commitment and landed at Pac-12 rival Cal, where earlier this week he was named the Golden Bears’ starter.
It was the sort of situation that easily could have led to Liufau perhaps questioning the CU coaching staff’s faith in his abilities. Yet throughout the ordeal Liufau continued to focus on his rehabilitation while welcoming the possibility of added competition.
“The coaches said it was for the best for the team and I said, ‘OK, that’s fine.’ I’m all about the team and I always have been,” Liufau said. “Either way, you’re going to have to compete. It’s just like in life — if you don’t want to compete, you’re not going to get the job you want. It’s like that with anything in life, really.”
Since he took his last snap Liufau has gone from the surgery room to a possible backup role to, once again, the unquestioned leader of the Buffs’ offense. And despite his very public courting of Webb, MacIntyre believes his signal-caller is poised for a career year as the Buffs attempt to return to a bowl for the first time in nine years.
“He’s extremely mentally tough and the guys respect him,” MacIntyre said. “Sophomore year he threw the ball well. Last year he was running the ball really well. I think that this year he’ll put it all together and have a phenomenal year and walk out of here with what he’s earned with victories he needs to get. I’m excited to see him do it.”
Pat Rooney: twitter.com/prooney07