Ideally, Terrance Lang’s career in Colorado would have included many more wins.
There’s value in going through tough times, though, and as Lang prepares for his final game with the Buffaloes, he’s grateful for the lessons learned.
“I feel great,” Lang, a 6-foot-7, 290-pound defensive end, said of his career. “I mean, I wouldn’t take anything back. I’ve faced a lot of adversity over the years here at CU, but I’ve learned a lot. I’m comfortable where I am and wouldn’t take anything back.
Lang and the Buffs (1-10, 1-7 Pac-12) host No. 14 Utah (8-3, 6-2) Saturday at Folsom Field (2:10 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
A sixth-grade senior, Lang came to CU in 2017 from Pomona, Calif. The Buffs were coming off a resurgent 10-4 season and a 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 played for three full-time head coaches, two interim head coaches, four defensive coordinators and five position coaches.
All of this made him who he is today.
“I grew as a person mentally and physically here at CU,” he said. “Going through a lot of coaching changes, having to be able to deal with adversity, being mentally strong. At first I thought it was all physical, then I had to realize there was a huge mental side to it. It’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 when he arrived in Boulder and will turn 24 on January 23 and laughed when asked if he was a different person today.
“I feel like it would be wrong to say I’m the same person as when I came here in 2017,” he said. “One thing I’ve realized being here is just the importance of building relationships and embracing the people around you. I’m definitely not the same person I was when I 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 record of wins and losses or personal statistics. Lang, who wore a red shirt in 2017, has been a regular part of the defensive line rotation for four years and has made 123 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks during his career.
For Lang, however, it was these relationships that 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 gray shirts.
“(Relationships with coaches and players), that’s what keeps it going; even strength trainers, trainers,” Lang said. “Especially when you’re going through a tough time like this, you kind of have to lean on each other and rely on the strength in each other’s eyes and be like, okay, I’m going in and I see Brady or Sami or Casey still fighting and still going; the people that I came with. It’s almost like I have no choice but to fight these guys- the.
After Saturday’s game, Lang will take time to heal his body before preparing for an offseason of training as he pursues a career in the NFL. He has a degree in sociology in his pocket and wants to help children at some point in his professional career.
On Saturday, however, he will enjoy battling with his teammates one last time.
“It’s a bittersweet moment for sure,” he said. “It’s kind of like I was embracing the last week and trying to take it all in, but at the same time I was just trying to focus on the game so it hasn’t really hit me yet.
“I don’t want to have any regrets leaving the pitch on Saturday and that’s what I’m going to do. I will leave everything in play and hope to play the best match of my career.