See your team in your mind's eye -- 24 starters, including specialists.
If you could put an absolute halo of safety -- perhaps a girdle of indestructibility? -- around just one, who would it be?
We're rating each Pac-12 team's most indispensable player. The only rule: Quarterbacks are not eligible for this post.
Next up: Colorado
Most indispensible player: DB Chidobe Awuzie
Last season, Awuzie was the Buffs’ most consistent player on defense. He finished the year second on the team in tackles (90) and was one of two Colorado players named to the All -Pac-12 team (both he and Nelson Spruce were second team).
He was a huge part of the Jim Leavitt defensive turnaround that saw the Colorado defense go from second-worst in the Pac-12 in 2014 (461 yards per game) to the 7th-best in the Pac-12 (417 yards per game) in 2015. More impressive -- and a big area to which Awuzie contributed -- was the pass defense, which went from giving up 35 touchdowns and registering just three interceptions in 2014 to 24 passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2015.
This season, he is shifting from nickel to corner, and (if needed) he can even play some safety. There aren’t too many players in the Pac-12 that could play any position in the secondary.
On top of that, his veteran leadership will be huge for the Colorado defense this season, which has another opportunity to take a big step forward as it returns nine defensive starters. The Buffs have one of the tougher schedules in the Pac-12 this season, but after coming so close to upsets so many times in 2015, they hope to show marked progress in 2016 as they work they way up into the Pac-12 rankings. And when Mike MacIntyre can count on a player like Awuzie -- for his on and off the field contributions -- it makes him pretty indispensable.