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TWO BIG UB FOOTBALL COMMITS & THE COORDINATORS SPEAK
We're taking a quick pause from the player intro project to bring you this breaking news.
Hey, there’s been some developments in Buffalo Bulls Football World over the past few days, so we figured this would be a good time to take a break from the Player Intro Project (which you’re probably still working through like War and Peace) to get you the news.
Image from ubbulls.com
Obligatory TBT Note: As previously mentioned, we haven’t covered The Basketball Tournament (a $1 million playoff populated by alumni teams from colleges across the U.S.) very closely—others are doing a much better job—but tonight is the big night for Blue Collar U, Buffalo’s representative.
The team features former Bulls and current pros like C.J. Massinburg, Jeremy Harris, Nick Perkins, and Wes Clark, among others, and they going for that $1 million prize at 8 p.m. on ESPN. There are local watch parties at The Anchor Bar in Amherst and J.P. Fitzgerald’s in Hamburg, according to UB’s Alumni Association. Or you could just drive to the game. (Ed. note - they won).
UB Football Adds Vandy RB James Ziglor III
Image from instagram.com
Former Harrison Central High School (Kennesaw, Georgia) football and track star James Ziglor III (pictured above) spent his freshman season at Vanderbilt, rushing for 41 yards and returning 11 kicks for 186 yards. Ziglor—a three-star prospect whom the Bulls recruited prior to last season—is now taking his talents to North Campus.
Sidelines Transfer Portal tweeted late Sunday that Ziglor, an offensive and defensive standout for the 2019 6A Georgia state champ Hoyas, was making the move to Buffalo. Given the fact that he was photographed wearing a crown and cape that reads “Takeaway King,” he may be transitioning to defense. (Ed. note - he did)
And lest you think the regal garb implies Ziglor is some kind of narcissistic head case, read this IG post he shared in which he celebrates his family:
No matter how cliche or cheesy this sounds, I spent this one month of summer that most of us student-athletes experience with family and friends that helped me ground myself and come back to realization. Putting into perspective my true goals and aspirations in this life. We all know the phrase "not to take quality time with your loved ones for granted because only the Lord knows when it's your last day." But during this month, I truly felt the connection with my loved ones and aspire you to take that phrase to heart.
Coach Mo and his staff keep adding talent and character. Have to like that.
Say hello to Bennett High School Star Jayden Lewis
While Ziglor, an Atlanta transplant, is coming to Buffalo, another young man from the city is staying home. Bennett High’s first-team All-Western New York linebacker Jayden Lewis has committed to UB.
The University at Buffalo football team has received its first local commitment for the Class of 2023 from Jayden Lewis, Bennett’s All-Western New York first-team linebacker.
Lewis led the state last fall with 12 interceptions, and returned eight for touchdowns. He had 69 tackles, recovered five fumbles and had a sack.
“Everybody don’t get this chance,” Lewis said. “I feel good, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m very excited.”
His decision to remain home excited Bennett coach Steve McDuffie, who coached the Tigers to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Class AA state championship game. Also, McDuffie now has two FBS verbal commits in Lewis and defensive lineman Rashard Perry (Syracuse).
“With Jayden being one of the best players on the whole East Coast, I think that speaks to how Mo [UB coach Maurice Linguist] is transitioning the program and how he’s making a huge emphasis to come into the City of Buffalo and get a kid from the area," McDuffie said. "I’m very excited he made that commitment to stay home.”
Lewis turned down Boston College and Temple, among others, to stay local. Welcome to the squad, Jayden.
UB Football Coordinators Shane Montgomery, Brandon Bailey Talk 2022 with Paul Peck
Buffalo released a pair of video podcasts yesterday featuring Voice of the Bulls™ Paul Peck—one with returning offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery (pictured left), the other with new defensive coordinator Brandon Bailey (pictured center).
Both interviews appeared to be recorded just after spring practice wrapped, or was in the process of wrapping, so the info isn’t exactly current—Montgomery mentions an injury to running back Ron Cook, for instance, that doesn’t seem to be a big deal at this point—but there were a few interesting nuggets.
Let’s parse these out:
Montgomery on the quarterback competition: Didn’t show his cards, which is either a canny move by an experienced coach or a bit of a red flag that no one stood out this spring.
He did mention that legacy Bulls Matt Myers and Casey Case, as well as Rutgers transfer Cole Snyder, are getting most of the practice reps (freshman Brian Plummer’s also cycling in and out, apparently).
Given the new influx of talent at receiver and offensive line, Montgomery did mention that every player’s been getting time with a variety of combos to see if any chemistry bubbles up. Expect a QB decision by…the Maryland game?
Image from instagram.com
On the receiving corps: “Last year—I’ve been coaching a long time—I thought that was one of the thinnest receiver groups that we’ve had,” Montgomery told Peck. “That’s mostly just based on numbers—we didn’t have a lot of numbers there.”
Montgomery mentioned three key transfers (Justin Marshall, Louisville; Boobie Curry, Arizona; Tre Hines, College of San Mateo) will bring big play capability, something sorely lacking from the 2021 unit.
He also called out Jovany Ruiz, noting that the former Fredonia (N.Y.) High School star’s return from an injury that kept him out of 10 games last season is like getting another new transfer. Ruiz (pictured above) looks, uh, ready.
On the offensive line: San Diego State transfer Dez Bessent and UConn product Sidney Walker add needed bodies to a line in transition. Jack Hacz, a projected starter, showed improvement in spring camp. Hacz is one of the players who has the skill Montgomery desires: versatility.
To get to your five best guys out there, you may need to move some guys positionally. I think any time you’re coming out of spring practice, or coming out of fall camp next year, who are your top eight or nine guys? When you get to that position, the sixth guy in might not be just the backup for that position. It’s really important nowadays that the guys up front can play multiple positions. Who’s our second and third center, who’s our third and fourth tackle, who’s our third and fourth guard? To get there, you might have to move some people around…We’re trying to get those guys as much experience as possible at different positions so that we can put our five best out there, and that will be a process throughout the summer.
Montgomery also raved about Dartmouth transfer Robbie Mangas, a tight end who will partner with incumbent Trevor Borland to add some more flexibility.
We feel like 1A and 1B out there. We’re going to use 12 personnel out there, two tight ends, a lot, so those guys, you’re going to see a lot. Robbie’s played a lot of ball. He’s an Ivy League graduate, so he’s a smart guy. He was an all-league guy, too, so he’s got talent. Those (two) guys are not only on the line blockers, but those are guys you can split out and do some things with, so we’ve been really pleased with that—that’s a position that you can’t really have enough depth at.
On the backfield: Montgomery specifically lauded the veteran Cook, who, despite a injury that kept him from participating much in spring camp, played a key mentorship role with guys like Mike Washington, Al-Jay Henderson, and Caron Robinson, who will be expected to provide the production lost from Dylan McDuffie and Kevin Marks, Jr.’s departures.
“I think we’ve got a good core there,” Montgomery said. “They all run the ball well, they all catch the ball well. The thing for them will be how quickly they can pick up pass protection. That’s the biggest transformation from high school to college, because I don’t know how many were picking up blitzes. The younger guys, they have a chance to play more early when they can do those type of things that people don’t see all of the time.”
On the style of offense he wants to instill: If Montgomery’s vision becomes reality, the Buffalo offense is going to be fun to watch.
We want to be a fast, physical team. We’ll mix tempos in. You see a lot of guys that are just straight-up tempo, and some who huddle, and we’re a no huddle offense that will mix tempos. We like to control the ball a little bit. The running game’s going to be key for us. I thought we run the ball pretty well last year, but we’ve got to improve that a little. I think our offensive line will be bigger this year up front, so I think that will help a little bit. And throwing the RPOs, the play action passes, and the thing that I like right now is that we have more big play capability in this offense. it’s hard to drive the ball for 10 or 12 plays every series without making a mistake, so I think the big plays will be there.
If you read those tea leaves, does the need for versatility, speed, and running ability point towards Myers or Snyder at quarterback? Does the need for speed and explosive plays signal a bigger roles for receivers like Jamari Gassett (probably) and Khamran Laborn? What does the desire to play 12 personnel often mean for an extremely crowded receiver room?
Time will tell!
Brandon Bailey on the UB defense: “You’re going to see a unit that plays really violent”
Image from buffalonews.com
Brandon Bailey is considered one of the top young coordinators in college football—a disciple of current Duke head coach Mike Elko, and a big believer in Maurice Linguist. His vision for the Buffalo defense fits the hard-working, blue-collar model that the team—the marketing team, anyhow—has been pushing for years.
The first thing you’re going to see is a unit that plays really fast and really violent with a ton of confidence. I hope when you look at us, you have a hard time categorizing us. We’re going to be multiple, we’re going to show you different pictures and do different things. We’re going to pride ourselves on stopping the run. We’re not going to let people run the ball down our throat and create explosive plays that way in the run game. And when we make people one-dimensional, take away the run game, we’re going to take away the other things that they’re comfortable with.
Sounds good to me! Bailey made interesting points about communication, and the challenge of pulling together a coaching staff of long-time pros and instituting a common language—you wouldn’t necessarily think of that, but every staff has its own terminology for describing what they want to happen on the field.
Then, you need to teach that language to players who, in the case of the Bulls’ squad, have legacy players on their third defensive coordinator in three years, and transfer/freshmen who are coming into the system completely cold.
They’re getting there, Bailey said:
I’m extremely proud of where the guys are. They’re starting from ground zero. At a time, from when I got here in January, we had about seven weeks as a staff to get on the same page. We weren’t all in the same place last year, we didn’t run the same systems, we didn’t speak the same language, so we had time to really get that ironed out, and then to translate that to our kids, and they’ve really embraced it. I’m proud of where they are. That’s not to say there aren’t ways we can grow, because there are, but they’ve made a ton of progress. That’s the biggest thing—that they believe in us, and we believe in them.
Talking talent: Bailey is a safeties coach by trade, so no surprise he was enthusiastic about the upgraded UB secondary.
“We’ve got a ton of really good players out there,” he said. “We brought in Jahmin Muse from Boston College, and he’s made an impact—you can feel his presence on the field. And then, on the perimeter, there’s guys like Keyshawn Cobb making plays. There’s guys like Jayden Oliver, Elijah Blades, Caleb Offord from Notre Dame, and along with some returners—Logic Hudgens (pictured above) has had a huge spring. It’s been awesome. I’m really excited about him and other guys I haven’t even mentioned who have had huge springs, buying into what we’re doing—I feel really good about that group, and what they can be.”
Coming Up: More Bulls Football, A Taste of Buffalo Hoops
Later this week, we’ll release Part 2 of our player intros—check out Part 1 here. There’s also some men and women’s basketball updates we’ll want to address. All in time! Enjoy the game tonight, and talk to you soon.
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