Ideally, Terrance Lang’s career at Colorado would have included a lot more wins.
There is value, however, in going through difficult times, and as Lang prepares for his final game with the Buffaloes, he is grateful for the lessons learned.
“I feel good about it,” Lang, a 6-foot-7, 290-pound defensive end, said of his career. “I mean, I wouldn’t take anything back. I faced a lot of adversity through the years here at CU, but I’ve learned a lot. I’m comfortable where I’m at and I wouldn’t take anything back.”
Lang and the Buffs (1-10, 1-7 Pac-12) will host No. 14 Utah (8-3, 6-2) on Saturday at Folsom Field (2:10 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
A sixth-year senior, Lang came to CU in 2017 from Pomona, Calif. The Buffs were coming off a resurgent 10-4 season and Pac-12 South title and they won a recruiting battle with USC to get Lang.
During Lang’s time in Boulder, the Buffs are 24-41 with one bowl appearance (Alamo Bowl in 2020). He has played for three full-time head coaches, two interim head coaches, four defensive coordinators and five position coaches.
It’s all shaped him into who he is today.
“I’ve developed as a person mentally and physically here at CU,” he said. “Going through a lot of coaching changes, having to be able to face adversity, be mentally strong. At first I thought everything was physical and then I had to realize there was a huge mental side of it. That’s something I learned here at CU. Just being at CU has made me a stronger person than I was when I got here.”
Lang was 18 years old when he arrived in Boulder and will turn 24 on Jan. 23 and laughed when asked if he’s a different person today.
“I feel like it would be bad to say that I’m the same person as when I got here in 2017,” he said. “One thing I realized being here is just the importance of building relationships and embracing the people around you. I’m definitely not the same person as when I first got here.
“My mom tells me how proud she is of me every time I see her.”
It would be easy to focus on the win-loss record, or personal statistics. Lang, who redshirted in 2017, has been a regular part of the defensive line rotation for four years and has posted 123 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks in his career.
For Lang, however, it is those relationships that have defined his time in Boulder. Tight end Brady Russell, receivers Maurice Bell and Jaylon Jackson, running back Alex Fontenot and safety Isaiah Lewis have all been here as long as Lang. Guard Casey Roddick and defensive lineman Jalen Sami arrived shortly after the 2017 season as grayshirts.
“(Relationships with coaches and players), that’s the thing that keeps this thing going; even strength coaches, trainers,” Lang said. “Especially when you’re going through a tough time like this, you’ve kind of gotta lean on each other and rely on the strength in each other’s eyes and be like, Okay, I come in and I see Brady or Sami or Casey still fighting and still going; people that I came in with. It’s almost like I have no choice but to fight with those guys.”
After Saturday’s game, Lang will take time to heal his body before preparing for an offseason of training as he pursues an NFL career. He has a sociology degree in hand and wants to help kids at some point in his professional career.
On Saturday, however, he’ll enjoy fighting with his teammates one last time.
“It’s a bittersweet moment for sure,” he said. “It’s kind of like I’m embracing this last week and trying to just take it all in, but at the same time, I’m kind of just trying to focus on the game so it hasn’t really hit me yet.
“I don’t want to have any regrets when I leave the field on Saturday and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m gonna leave it all on the line and hopefully play the best game in my career.”