BOULDER | His wild go-in-every-direction hair attracts all sorts of attention.
Same with his elusive running style, which is so unrelenting and whirlwindish that it has earned him the nickname “Tasmanian Devil.”
In actuality, Colorado senior tailback Phillip Lindsay shies away from the spotlight.
“I’m just not a big attention guy,” he said.
It’s been inevitable, though, given the way his career has gone . Lindsay arrived on campus in 2013 coming off a serious knee injury that had him wondering what kind of impact he might have on the program.
How’s this: With two regular-season games left, including this weekend’s home finale against No. 15 USC, he’s 374 yards away from surpassing Eric Bieniemy as the school’s all-time leading rusher. He also has the Buffaloes (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) on the verge of a second straight bowl appearance.
“My inner-gut told me you better take a chance on this guy, because he’s something special,” coach Mike MacIntyre said of Lindsay, who redshirted his freshman season as he rounded back into form after suffering a torn ACL in high school. “Sure enough, he’s been special as a person, as a player and someone that I’ll stay in close contact with throughout the years.”
Take a glance at Lindsay’s resume to date:
— Back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
— A school-most 41 carries for 281 yards — fourth-best by a Buff — against Arizona on Oct. 7.
— 107 career receptions, most by a Colorado tailback.
— 11 100-yard rushing games.
— Second in team history in yards from scrimmage with 4,519 (49 yards away from breaking the mark held by Rodney Stewart).
— 34 career rushing TDs, tied for second-most in team history.
Nice and all, but going to a second straight bowl game means more to him than any sort of personal accolades. The Buffaloes are a win away from eligibility, with games remaining against the Trojans (8-2, 6-1, No. 11 CFP) and then at Utah (5-4, 2-4) on Nov. 25.
“I just wanted to be a part of creating something special,” said Lindsay, a Denver native who played an instrumental role in helping the Buffs win the Pac-12 South last season and go to the Alamo Bowl. “I’m happy and excited to be with so many other players to build this place back up to being successful.”
That knee injury in high school had him wondering just how effective he could be on the next level. MacIntyre had some initial reservations as well.
“The first time I ever met him he couldn’t even bend his knee and weighed about 150 pounds,” MacIntyre said. “But I just saw the energy you see inside of him that you see now and I said, ‘I’m going to take this guy no matter what.'”
Turns out, that knee injury set the tone for everything. It humbled him, Lindsay said, and made him grind that much harder.
“Before that, I felt invincible,” Lindsay said. “That (injury) gave me a chance to really soul search.”
He rushed for 391 yards as a freshman, then 653 as a sophomore. Last season, he burst onto the scene with a 1,189-yard season that earned him second-team all-Pac-12 honors.
This season, he’s taken it to another level — and he’s thanking everyone along the way, especially his big men up front.
“If you watch Phillip, he talks on the field like he’s as big as us,” offensive lineman Jeromy Irwin said. Lindsay is all of 5-foot-8, 190 pounds.
“He’s always barking up a big tree, but we love him and he loves us,” Irwin said. “We go out there and we work hard for him and he works hard for us.”
His hair has long been his trademark. The only time he trims it is when his mom asks, like around the holiday season a year ago.
But he’s shaving it after the season for a purpose: He wants to donate his locks to a charity that makes wigs to aid children in need due to medical conditions.
“I definitely want to help,” he said. “It grows back fast.”
His time in Boulder has certainly sped by. This weekend will be the final time he and his fellow seniors run out behind the mascot Ralphie at Folsom Field.
“One door closes, another doors opens. That’s how you have to look at it,” Lindsay said. “There are other opportunities after this.”
Maybe the NFL. Possibly a career in law enforcement.
“Whatever he ends up doing,” MacIntyre said, “he’ll be extremely successful at it.”