One of Colorado’s best defensive linemen in recent years is coming back.

Mustafa Johnson, who elected in January to skip his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft, has been granted a waiver to return to CU. He was reinstated to the roster on Wednesday but is not yet eligible to play.

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According to a BuffZone source, Johnson must serve a suspension and CU has a few hurdles to clear in order to get him eligible. It’s possible, according to a source, that Johnson could make his season debut on Oct. 2 against Southern California at Folsom Field.

After declaring for the draft, Johnson signed with an agent, but went undrafted and was unable to land a free-agent contract with an NFL team. He did receive a tryout with the New York Jets but was not signed.

With one year of eligibility remaining, Johnson was able to file a waiver with the NCAA and was officially reinstated this week. He will be on scholarship as a “super senior” this season, taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted to all players by the NCAA because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 6-foot-2, 290-pound defensive end, Johnson was named second-team All-Pac-12 by coaches and media in 2020. He recorded 21 tackles, two sacks and six tackles for loss during the five-game regular season for the Buffs while adding three tackles and a sack against Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

In 2018, Johnson, who came to CU from Modesto (Calif.) Junior College, was first-team All-Pac-12 when, in his first year as a Buff, he started all 12 games and compiled 73 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hurries. His 73 tackles that season are the most by a CU defensive lineman since 1997, while his 18 TFLs are the most by any CU player since 1993.

A starter in all 27 games he has played at CU, Johnson is tied for 14th in program history in career sacks (15) and tied for 20th in career tackles for loss (29).

Johnson will add much-needed depth and experience to a young defensive line.

Juniors Terrance Lang and Janaz Jordan, along with sophomore Jalen Sami, have starting experience, but sophomore Na’im Rodman is the only other defensive lineman with much experience.

Junior Justin Jackson and freshman Blayne Toll provide some depth at end, while redshirt freshman Jayden Simon and several other freshmen provide depth at tackle.

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