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THE 2022 BUFFALO BULLS, FROM AHMED TO ZIMMER: PART 2
It's dominated our free time, ruined our sleep patterns, and tested our familial relationships, but Part 2 is finally here.
We’re doing this, people—we’re finishing the entire roster. Apologies it’s a little late, but there’s a lot of players on this team. But first—a few words on the captain.
UB Linebacker James Patterson Profiled in The Buffalo News
Image from ubbulls.com
Ed. note—miss Part 1? Here you go.
Buffalo’s James Patterson (pictured above, making tackle) was a first-team All-Mid-American Conference selection twice in the past two seasons. He also led the Bulls in tackles in both campaigns, and was the second-highest tackler on the team in 2018. James has played in three bowl games, and helped push the University at Buffalo football team into the final AP Top 25 poll in 2020.
Patterson is also the 41st-ranked inside linebacker in Phil Steele’s 2022 player rankings. Twenty-two linebackers and 15 edge rushers were selected in the 2022 National Football League draft.
That’s a nice way of saying Patterson’s NFL potential is probably marginal, at best.
That’s not an insult. His twin brother, Jaret, the most dynamic running back in UB history, went undrafted before catching on in Washington. He’s had his moments as a pro, but is no lock to make the Commanders’ roster again this season.
Buffalo linebacker Khalil Hodge, a senior when James was a freshman, was considered the top Bull at the position since Khalil Mack. He never got a taste of the NFL. Patterson’s fellow UB linebacker, Kadofi Wright, took a shot at the league this summer, and was waived by the Denver Broncos a couple weeks ago.
Is it any surprise, then, that he’s coming back for a fifth season in 2022? Not really.
You better believe Head Coach Maurice Linguist is glad to have him around, as he explained to Rachel Lenzi of The Buffalo News:
“James Patterson is one of the top returning players in college football. He probably had a lot of opportunities after the season to do a lot of things…he’s on a lot of NFL scouts' lists right now…When your best players and the best people (want) to come back, it speaks to what we feel like is going on in that locker room right now.”
Not saying Coach Mo is spinning yarns, but “being on lists” and having a legit shot at the brass ring are two different things. Regardless, it’s great to have continuity on a retooled defense that is heavy on talent, but limited on experience as a unit.
Continuity has not been a given at North Campus—Patterson, under Brandon Bailey, is now working with his third defensive coordinator in three years.
He could’ve transferred, a decision 15 of his defensive mates made since former head coach Lance Leipold bounced for Kansas in the spring of 2021. Another hard-hitting MAC linebacker, Ivan Pace, Jr., left Miami (Ohio) for 2021 FBS playoff rep Cincinnati this offseason—Patterson certainly could have found his own big-time school to play his trade.
James chose to stay. What can you say? Buffalo gets into people’s blood.
“It was always set here,” Patterson said. “A lot of people were telling me, ‘why don’t you do this, or why don’t you do that?’ I told them, ‘I don’t think so, because Buffalo is my second home.’
“I did something here that nobody else can do anywhere. The city shows love, and shows love for its sports teams, and I probably couldn’t find that somewhere else.”
While he is a Bednarik, Butkus, and Nagurski award candidate, as well as a preseason All-American, James claims the individual accolades are less important than Ws. He didn’t want to leave on a down note.
“4-8 is not a good look,” Patterson said. “That’s not been the known, that’s not been the recent for Buffalo football. Since I’ve been here, we’ve always been to a MAC championship game or to a bowl game, so that’s the expectation. We want to keep rising, and try to go to a New Year’s Six bowl. That’s always been the goal, to be a top 25 team, and to make it even better.”
Give this guy a statue when he runs out of eligibility. James Patterson should always have a place at UB.
Now let’s get back to the player intros.
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Meet the (rest of the) 2022 Buffalo Bulls
If you haven’t seen Part 1 of our player intros, be sure to check it out.
But first… (cue “Sirius”) Ladies and gentlemen, the rest of your 2022 Buffalo Bulls!
Walker Martin (K, #29, Fr.)
This guy is legitimately the kicker of the future. He was the top high school kicker in Pennsylvania and tied a state record with five field goals in a 2021 game.
Here’s a little background on our guy from Garden Spot High:
Martin didn’t pick up kicking until the summer before his sophomore season. A soccer player since third grade — Martin played for the PA Classics for seven years — he was approached by former Garden Spot kicker and current Spartans’ assistant coach J.D. Stern about giving it a try.
It was love at first kick for Martin, who has trained with Kick It, Hammer Kicking Academy and Kohl’s Kicking Camps — all well-respected specialist camps around the country.
Martin, who has since given up soccer to concentrate on kicking, competed in Hammer Kicking Academy’s top-40 invitation-only camp in Orlando this summer and he finished sixth in field goal charting, going up against kickers who have committed to Texas, Arizona State, Michigan State and Iowa, among others.
He’s also won a field goal competition at a Hammer Kicking Academy event in Frederick, Maryland, and Martin was invited to the prestigious Kohl’s Kicking Scholarship Camp this summer in Tennessee.
“I know I can compete against the top guys in the country,” said Martin, a 5-8, 175-pounder.
Jason McCarthy (LB, #43, R-Soph.)
Jason once scored five touchdowns in a high school game for Ballston Spa (N.Y.) after learning a family friend had been killed. He ran for 134 yards on eight carries in that poignant contest, according to The Schenectady (N.Y.) Daily Gazette:
Playing in a game postponed Friday and rescheduled to Monday night with just a bit more than 24 hours notice, McCarthy scored five touchdowns in Ballston Spa’s 41-6 win against Gloversville. McCarthy played in the game a night after a close family friend died in an accident, and the senior linebacker/running back pointed toward the sky after each of his scores.
“That was all for her,” McCarthy said.
Image from canisiushigh.org
Nik McMillan (WR, #17, Fr.)
Nik’s a Buffalo native who split his high school years between hometown Canisius and Dr. Henry Wise (Upper Marlboro, Maryland). Coming back to Buffalo was not a tough decision for the 6’1, 224-pound freshman who caught 38 passes for 867 yards (that’s a 23-yard average) and 13 touchdowns as a high school senior—despite hard looks from big-time programs like Wisconsin and Pitt. “(UB) loved me like I was already there,” Nik told The Buffalo News. “And I think that when I get there, the love will be there. I felt like they really wanted me in the program and I was meant to be there.” Fun fact: Nik’s the son of former Syracuse wide receiver Malik Campbell, a two-sport athlete who also played for the Orange hoops team.
Jalen McNair (S, #28, R-Soph.)
A three-star recruit who starred in the defensive backfield as a high schooler at St. Vincent Pallotti (home of the Patterson brothers) in Laurel, Maryland and Our Lady of Good Counsel in Olney, Md., where he met future Bulls defensive lineman George Wolo. McNair was 1st-team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference as a senior, helping OLGC to a top-three finish in the state.
Alex McNulty (K, #16, Sr.)
Alex has made his mark on Buffalo. McNulty’s the first kicker to record 100 consecutive extra points in program history. He set a school record with a 55-yard field goal in the Bulls’ OT loss to Northern Illinois. Alex also drilled a game-winner as time expired against Ohio. McNulty can be a bit of a roller coaster—he was 13-for-21 last season, with a handful of ugly misses—but Alex has intestinal fortitude. A javelin-thrower for the UB track team, former football walk-on, an excellent student, one-time reptile salesman (true story), and a genuinely thoughtful guy, Buffalo is a more interesting school with McNulty on campus.
Max Michel (DE, #6, Sr.)
A football and track star at Elizabeth (New Jersey) High School, Max was not heavily recruited—and Buffalo reaped the reward. After redshirting his freshman season, Michel climbed the depth chart and was becoming an impact defender before a Week 8 injury knocked him out for the rest of the 2021 season. Max was dominating: he posted 36 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, four sacks two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in those eight games, including a 10-tackle performance and a sack in a win over Old Dominion. Michel isn’t sneaking up on anyone this season.
Wyatt Molinich (TE, #44, Jr.)
A walk-on tight end from Pittsford (N.Y.) Sutherland, Wyatt is the brother of longtime Bull Jake Molinich and son of Keith Molinich, a well-respected Pittsford football coach. Keith laid it down to his kids early: “We just teach 'em to block,” Keith told Spectrum Local News. “We gotta catch the ball every once in awhile in practice, but I always laugh at my two—listen, you're not getting into the game to catch footballs.” That’s the story for Wyatt this season, too—special teams, and dropping bodies when called upon. He’s 6’0, 240 pounds, so that’s doable.
Devin Morgan (DT, #91, Fr.)
Devin hails from Baltimore—UB really recruits the hell out of the D.C./Maryland/Virgina region, doesn’t it?—where he played a key role on nationally-ranked St. Francis Academy. A three-star recruit, Debo checks in at 6’2, 288 pounds, and should develop into a big problem for MAC linemen.
Image from twitter.com
Khalil Murdock (LB, #26, Fr.)
A three-star defender from Hopewell, Virginia, 247 Sports had Khalil ranked as the seventh in the nation among 2022 recruits, and the number-two available linebacker in both Virginia and the U.S. Here’s what the Richmond Times-Dispatch had to say about the All-Metro defensive player they call Red (pictured above): “The Region 3A defensive player of the year had 45 tackles (14 for losses) in five games plus two sacks and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. A versatile linebacker, Murdock also excels in the classroom with a 4.0 GPA, benches 335 pounds, dead-lifts 435, squats 455 and runs a 4.45 shuttle.”
Jahmin Muse (S, #11, Grad.)
One of the first big transfers of the Bulls’ 2021-22 recruiting season, Jahmin will help anchor the rebuilt UB secondary. A product of Elizabeth (N.J.) High School—shoutout Max Michel—Muse was a key contributor at Boston College, where he snagged three interceptions in 2020. He also grabbed a pick-6 against Colgate last season, when a groin injury that limited him to eight games in 2021, and is poised to grasp the leadership mantle Coach Linguist has challenged him to take.
Matt Myers (QB, #10, Sr.)
So Jonah Bronstein, an experienced Bulls-watcher, tweeted this on Thursday:
And Coach Mo said this to The Buffalo News:
“We have 30 days before we kick off, so it’s very practical to say that going into that game week, we’ll have 6-7 practices strictly devoted to Maryland. We’ll have it settled, but we want to have it happen organically, over the course of training camp. We have two preseason scrimmages that are coming up, one in eight or nine days away, and we’ll have another one following that next week, and we’re going to even out some of those reps, evaluate the film and then the guy we’re going to make our signal-caller, I think it’s going to be very clear to the team.”
Neither bodes well for Myers, a four-year veteran of the Blue and White who’s had both flashes of brilliance and moments of frustration since he was Wally Pipp’d by Kyle Vantrease (now starting at Georgia Southern) in 2018. Matt had 882 total yards as a passer and runner last season, accounting for eight touchdowns. The athleticism and the weaponry are there—the issue, at least from what we’ve seen, has been the consistency. Myers is capable of throwing some outstanding balls downfield and into traffic; he’s also capable of short-hopping a six-yard out.
The backup quarterback is always the most popular guy on the team, right? It was tantalizing to imagine him taking over when Vantrease seemed conservative or limited. Now, with Snyder in the mix, Myers may not have that same cache. It is what it is for Myers—a truly open competition for the opportunity to throw to an absolute unit of receivers. Let the best man win (and if that doesn’t work out, next Bull up).
Caleb Offord (CB, #5, Jr.)
Another of the Power 5 transfers into UB’s secondary, Caleb comes from Notre Dame, where he wasn’t in the mix over two seasons at South Bend. Here’s what the scouts said when he entered the Fighting Irish program: “Every so often, the reaction to a recruit’s commitment is what bears repeating without much change. …Offord stands 6-foot-1, and his film indicates his frame might actually be longer than that. He appears to be solid in press coverage with a habit of being near the ball. Some of this should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt given the level of competition may not be as staunch as generally wanted when evaluating such.” A classic damning-with-faint-praise situation, but this evaluation is two years old, and Coach Mo’s reputation is built on making players happy and successful.
Janik Ogunlade (OL, #73, R-Fr.)
The big man (6’5, 288 pounds) from Waldorf, Md. sat out last season as a redshirt. He was an early enrollee in 2021, and stuck around when Lance Leipold left, which speaks to his commitment. As a high schooler at North Point, Ogunlade was an anchor on an o-line that paved the way for Corey Johnson’s 1,211 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns in 2020. Johnson is now a star rusher at Bowie State.
Kameron Olds (DE, #13, Fr.). A three-star recruit from Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia—where fellow Bulls freshman Khalil Murdock also polished his game—Kameron previously committed to Virginia Tech as a preferred walk-on before reconsidering, taking a year to grow at Fork Union, and eventually taking his game to Buffalo. Florida State and Virginia also offered Kameron preferred walk-on status. He’s an intriguing young man—6’4, 245 pounds, interest from schools like Memphis and Old Dominion—we may have a diamond here.
Jayden Oliver (CB, #1, Jr.). A ball hawk in the defensive secondary, Jayden notched 36 tackles and six interceptions in two seasons at the New Mexico Military Institute, helping the team to a juco national championship. He’s a three-star athlete out of the Tampa region in Florida, where MaxPreps had him ranked as the 135th high school prospect in 2019 in that hotly competitive state.
Matt Pajuste (OL, #71, R-Fr.). Matt Pajuste is one of the reasons why doing these player intros can be so interesting. Matt’s a 6’4, 318-pound lineman from Martin Luther King High School in Philadelphia and was a first-team All-State selection and winner of the Mini Max Award from the Maxwell Football Club. He’s also a three-star recruit who’s put on a half-inch in size and nearly 40 pounds since high school. He can play guard and center, and is another player who stayed when Lance Leipold left. But here’s the thing—how much have you heard about Matt Pajuste? This young man may be a star. Will be keeping a close eye on Matt this season.
Image from eagletribune.com
Jackson Paradis (RB, #32, Fr.). Jackson (pictured above) was the New Hampshire Gatorade Football Player of the Year in 2021. Sure, it’s a small state, but he’s the first POY from the Granite State to go D1 in the last four years.
Here’s what the North Andover (Mass.) Eagle-Tribune had to stay about the rugged and rough three-star:
This fall, Paradis rushed for 1,851 yards — averaging 10.2 yards per carry — and scored 22 touchdowns, leading Tilton to a 6-3 record and a trip to the Ken Hollingsworth Bowl. He topped 200 rushing yards in five games, inducing a 332-yard, four-touchdown masterpiece in a 48-0 win over Kingswood Oxford School, which he finished with 405 total yards.
Paradis, who also earned NEPSAC (New England Prep School Athletic Council) football Player of the Year, follows recent NH Gatorade winners Curtis Harris-Lopez (2020, Nashua North), Malcolm Bussey (2019, St. Paul’s School) and Ryan Toscano (2018, Bedford).
“What makes Jackson so special on the field is his size and speed,” Proctor Academy head coach Ben Rulli said in Gatorade’s press release. “We have been fortunate to have had a lot of great players over the years at Proctor that played at the Power 5 collegiate level. We have played against guys of similar caliber. Jackson Paradis is right up there with all of these players.”
Not sure where he fits into the backfield this season—returnees Ron Cook, Mike Washington, Al-Jay Henderson, and Caron Robinson are expected to get most of the work—but certainly no one has an iron-clad lock on the position at the moment. There’s room for Jackson and fellow frosh Mark Scott to muscle their way in.
James Patterson (LB, #8, Grad.). What else is there we can say about James Patterson? We love this guy. He’ll be in the UB Athletics Hall of Fame someday. He should be in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame someday. He’s been the rock of this team since 2018, and he still believes that the best is yet to come. “It doesn’t mean anything, but you still have to use that to fuel the fire that they’re doubting us,” he said when asked about the preseason media poll that had the Bulls third in the MAC East, and sixth in the conference. “We know what we can do and we know what type of team we are and we just got to show that on game day.” James should break into the top 10 in school history in tackles in the first game of the season, barring catastrophe.
Zach Pilarcek (TE, #36, Fr.). Zach was a left-handed quarterback at Union-Endicott High School in Endicott, New York, and led the Tigers to a Section 4 Class A title in 2019. He transferred to Milford Academy after the pandemic threw a wrench into his recruitment process—he’d been getting long looks from Ivy League and Patriot League schools. Zach is listed as a tight end, where his athleticism and size—6’4, 225 pounds—should be an asset for a young man who’s not done growing.
Justin Piwowarczyk (LB, #40, Fr.). With a name like that, you’ve got to be from the Cheektowaga/West Seneca area, and Justin is indeed a West Seneca West product. He’s also the reigning Class A South Defensive Player of the Year who benches 315 pounds, squats 405 pounds, deadlifts 500 pounds, and does stuff like this:
Let’s hope James Patterson takes this young man under his wing and molds him in his image. Hitman in the making here.
Brian Plummer (QB, #6, R-Fr.). Brian got reps in spring practice, but he’s probably the fourth option behind Matt Myers, Cole Snyder, and Casey Case. He came to Buffalo from Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where he established a profile as a three-star dual threat with the ability to win—he collected Ws in 25 of 27 career starts, won a state championship, and threw for over 3,000 yards. He was teammates with Marquez Cooper, a star running back for MAC rival Kent State. What does the future hold for Brian? We’ll see how things shake out in the QB race, but it’s most likely his future at UB is still a season or two away.
Dom Polizzi (OL, #66, Jr.). Dom’s a Brockport, N.Y. product who played 11 games last season as a non-scholarship player. He will play zero games this season as a non-scholarship player, as the walk-on earned himself a full ride with his hard-nosed style—a promotion that was announced in classic surprise style by Coach Mo. This will be the former second-team All-State high schooler’s first season on the offensive line after officially rostering as a defender for the past three seasons.
Dylan Powell (S, #39, Grad.). Another St. Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel, Maryland—Vincent Pallotti is the patron saint of the Pontifical Missionary Union of Clergy, he should be the patron saint if UB recruiting.1 Dylan’s played in 13 games over the past three seasons, recording 24 tackles.
Caron Robinson (RB, #28, Soph.). Outside of a single game against Akron in 2020, Caron hasn’t played football since he was a first-team All-State back for Aquinas Institute in Rochester. Caron already has a decent trophy case: 2018 NYSHSFCA Class AA Player of the Year, two state titles at Aquinas, the Offensive MVP award of the 2018 state title games, and two sectional wins as a track star. Although he only has five carries as a Bull, he knows what it’s like to have success in Buffalo: Caron went for 269 yards and three touchdowns against St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute as a high school junior. Canisius grads will appreciate that. Regardless, Caron will have a shot to see serious action this year as he’s part of the group being asked to replace another local high school hero—Dylan McDuffie.
Image from ubbulls.com
Jovany Ruiz-Navarro (WR, #8, R-Sr.). UB In 5 has a soft spot for Jovany (pictured above), as he, like UB In 5, originally hails from the Dunkirk-Fredonia (N.Y.) area. While we’re Dunkirk Marauders and Jovany, a Fredonia native, was a hated Hillbilly, it’s all love once you hit D1. Jovany missed most of the 2021 season—one in which he was expected to be a major contributor—after suffering a knee injury against Nebraska in the second week of the season, marking the second time in three years he’d missed serious time with injury. If you follow his Instagram, however, you’ve seen that he has been deadly serious about his rehab and looks absolutely shredded to start this campaign. His offensive coordinator, Shane Montgomery, said getting Ruiz back is like getting another transfer talent, which suggests there’s a role for the fifth-year senior in the OC’s plans. Here’s to a healthy and successful season for another tough young man from the 716.
Alain Schaerer (OL, #58, Sr.). Like Jayden Oliver, Alain is a product of the New Mexico Military Institute. That’s where the comparisons end! Alain is a giant of a man, 6’3, 295 pounds, and a key reserve for an offensive line in transition. He’s also a Swiss fellow who excelled in a variety of sports but didn’t play football until he was 16 years old. It was not love at first sight, mainly because he was worried that it would interfere with his competitive bodybuilding. Guess what, Alain, it did! After a surprisingly authentic military experience in New Mexico, he chose Buffalo over UMass and the rest is history. Alain’s also a two-time member of the All-Academic MAC squad, and a computer science major.
Mark Scott (RB, #33, Fr.). Mark is a 5’9, 175-pound freshman from St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip, which is located in the dead center of Long Island’s South Shore. Mark may seem slightly undersized, but he is dedicated to football in a way most of us wish we were dedicated to anything:
Mark Anthony is a highly motivated, gifted athlete and a stand out in football and track. With his high football IQ, he brings the physicality of a wrestler and the speed of a sprinter to the football field. His football coaches have described him as taking charge when he gets the ball and has the strength and technique to shake defenders. He has quick feet and changes direction well with a unique ability to deliver under pressure. His current football coach talks about how well trained and coachable Mark Anthony is with undeniable speed.
He has been playing full contact football since the age of 5 and has gained another year of football experience as the top rusher on his High School Football team as a freshman at Saint John the Baptist DHS.
He is competitive and is always looking to improve his skills. He has been invited and participated in 2 Top Gun Competitions and also twice played at the All American Bowl. He has attended the University of Alabama University Football Camp and won the Nick Saban running back performance award. He has also attended Football University (FBU) camps for the past 5 years as a running back and wide receiver.
He also works out with Conte Cuttino, an incredibly successful back at Stony Brook from 2006 to 2009 and fellow Long Islander, on a regular basis. Doubt this young man at your own risk.
James Shatas (TE, #84, Fr.). James is a 6’6, 245-pound tight end who also played offensive and defensive line at Amsterdam (N.Y.) High. He was a Section 2 first-team All-Star at defensive end and found time to play basketball, lacrosse, and track, as well. Oh, he’s also a National Honor Society student with a 3.8 GPA.
Caelan Shepard (OL, #77, Jr.). Caelen’s looking for more playing time in 2022 after appearing in just six games over three seasons (one of which he wore the red shirt). Caelen’s a two-star recruit from Broadneck High in Annapolis, Maryland, where he played alongside former Boston College guard Ethon Williams (Ethon graduated and transferred to UConn this offseason, just missing a chance to play with current Bull Sidney Walker). He is a large man at 6’6, 315 pounds, which is roughly the same size he was as a recruit. Caelen joined fellow Bull Logic Hudgens on the 2019 Maryland Big 33 team. The annual Big 33 game features top football players from Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Image from scarletknights.com
Cole Snyder (QB, #15, Soph.) A transfer from Rutgers and a native of Jamestown, N.Y.—home of Lucille Ball, Natalie Merchant, and that creepy statue of the lady in a bridal dress in Lake View Cemetery—Cole may be the Bulls’ next starting quarterback.2 He appeared in nine games over three seasons for the Scarlet Knights, throwing for 165 yards and a touchdown.
He talked to Rutgers Wire about the reasons why he chose UB:
“Picking a school really came down to three things: it came down to an academic fit, a football fit, and a cultural fit. I mean, and in those boxes there’s other things that need to be checked off within those [boxes], but Buffalo really checked all my boxes and I didn’t see any red flags. …I really liked the people there, the players, the coaches. And one of the biggest things was the culture that they have, especially like playing on a team that was in a rebuild and (Rutgers) coach (Greg) Schiano coming in and laying a foundational culture. And I got to see how that changed Rutgers football for the good. And that was important to me when finding my next school. …They told me nothing’s gonna be given to me. But I will have an opportunity to compete. So that’s what I was looking for.”
Let’s take some time to get to know Cole, since most of the press on him so far has been on his transition to Buffalo. Here are some nice anecdotes from his recruitment to Rutgers that tell a bit more about the man (credit to David Anderson of OnTheBanks.com):
Cole Snyder…was blitzing as a linebacker/safety when Rutgers scouted him because his high school team just didn’t have a lot of depth for their QB to only play offense. Snyder arrived from Southwestern in Jamestown, NY just a half hour from Lake Erie. After heading up to see Snyder throw, offensive coordinator John McNulty remarked about three things: how cold it was, how well Cole threw it around, and how tight knit the kids were who ran around catching passes for him shortly after dawn. The school has less than 500 students TOTAL. Former New York Jets fullback Jehuu Caulcrick, a native of Liberia who played at Michigan State, is the head coach. …
Coming from a school where he played three sports, Snyder played ice hockey, baseball, and both sides of the football to boot. He was also the punter and punt returner. …
We have only seen two drives from Cole Snyder at the college level, both in the spring game, so the sample set is not very large. That being said, he showed nice ability to buy time inside the pocket without scrambling and creating chaos. In his high school highlights there was a lot of this same behavior, though per his punt return clips, he definitely knows how to run in the open field. …
Cole’s high school teammates appear to include some lifelong friends and the chemistry does show up on film, but they are not playing for a squad full of five star talent…I think Snyder may end up being the best quarterback on the current Rutgers roster or even it’s 2020 commits because he has a strong enough arm, great feel for the game, and seems to just be a winner.
Anderson ended up comparing Snyder to former Rutgers QBs Ryan Hart and Kyle Bolin, if that means anything to you. He sounds a bit like former Buffalo star Joe Licata in terms of the natural-born leadership and man-among-men qualities…but we shall see. Very interested to see Cole in action.
Will Swope (OL, #72, Grad.). Big Will (6’6, 300 pounds) comes to the Bulls from FCS Cornell, where he was a nine-game starter last season. The Big Red o-line was fifth ranked nationally in the ol’ championship subdivision. He’s a former first-team All-State selection at State College Area High School in State College, Pennsylvania. Like linemate Caelan Shepard, Will was also a Big 33 participant, and he was a star shot put and discus thrower at SCAHS. He’s another big body in the mix for an offensive line striving for cohesiveness and versatility.
Caleb Tate (LB, #33, Jr.). A three-star recruit from Tampa, Caleb’s the son of a former Penn State defensive back and pro football journeyman Mark Tate. Mark’s actually an alum of Cathedral Prep in Erie, Pennsylvania, a noted football factory, and The Buffalo News reported Caleb picked UB partially because he’d be close to relatives. Caleb’s been a steady special teamer for the Bulls for the past three seasons with 17 career tackles.
Michael Tetteh (DE, #50, Soph.). Michael was the big man on campus at Cardinal Hayes High School in The Bronx, where he was a three-year letterman and a 2019 Catholic High School Football League All-League defensive player and a New York Catholic High School Football League All-Star. The 6’3, 240 pound defensive end doesn’t have much tape yet—he redshirted his first season, and played on the scout team last year. We’ll see if he can crack the rotation as a sophomore.
Anthony Venneri (K, #94, Fr.). An export from Hamilton, Ontario, Venneri was “Mr. Everything” at St. Thomas More High School. “The kicker/punter prospect out of Steeltown might be the most under the radar signing of this class, but he may also end up being the biggest steal for the Bulls,” according to Canada Football Chat. “Venneri spent his high school career playing for top-ranked St. Thomas More, who went on an unprecedented winning streak that saw them hold onto the number one spot in Canada for three straight seasons during Venneri’s time with the Knights. While kicking might not have always been a factor in a lot of their wins, it was always a highlight when he stepped on the field, averaging 45 yards per punt this past season—including a 75 yarder—and he also took care of field goal and kickoff duties. On top of his role as special teams ace, he also lined up at linebacker and running back, making him a key cog in the Knights machine during his high school career.”
Image from uconnhuskies.com
Sidney Walker (OL, #53, Grad.). Sidney (pictured above, with ball) is a UConn transfer and a former juco road grader at Kilgore College who’s expected to slot into the rebuilt offensive line right away this season. He’s on Buffalo News reporter Rachel Lenzi’s radar, naming him one of nine UB players to watch this preseason. “Walker joins the Bulls as a graduate transfer from Connecticut, where he started nine games at center in 2021,” she wrote. “Walker will compete for the starting job at center, on an offensive line that returns only one starter in Gabe Wallace, who started 12 games at right tackle or at guard in 2021.”
Gabe Wallace (OL, #69, Sr.). For a dark moment late last season, it looked like Buffalo was going to lose offensive linemen Bence Polgar and Gabe Wallace to the transfer portal, completely cleaning out the 2021 starting five. Wallace, however, pulled back—Polgar ended up at Missouri—and the Bulls did not have to worry about filling at least one 6’6, 337-pound hole. Wallace started all 12 games last season for a strong rushing unit, and has added nearly 50 pounds since he’s joined the Bulls. With his size, a big year in 2022 could mean he starts getting serious attention from the guys who play on Sunday.
Aidan Walline (WR, #86, Fr.). Aidan’s from Clarence, N.Y., and carved out a reputation as a speedy touchdown machine for the home town Red Devils. At 6’2, 195 pounds, he’ll have his work cut out for him competing for attention with a receiver room full of seasoned vets. Expect to hear more from Aidan a season or two down the road.
Mike Washington (RB, #27, R-Fr.). Like Gabe Wallace, Mike tested the transfer portal water this offseason, but ultimately returned to familiar shores. Even with Ron Cook in the mix, Mike may be the most intriguing man in the Buffalo backfield—while he only rushed for 132 yards on 23 carries, there were flashes of brilliance that left Bulls fans wanting more. It was tough to get carries in a rotation with a legit bell cow like Dylan McDuffie, a school legend like Kevin Marks, Jr., and a lightning rod like Cook on the depth chart, but two of those three players are gone now—and Mike, a 6’2, 225 pound bruiser out of Cicero-North Syracuse High School, has a chance to seize the day.
Fabian Weitz (LB, #48, Jr.). Fabian played 13 games on defense and special teams in 2019, but sat out the pandemic-marred 2020 season and seemed to have lost his place in the rotation under the new coaching regime. He only appeared in five games, recording five tackles. On the plus side, he did get to wear the #41 jersey in the spring game—a special honor reserved for leaders and players of high character. There are ten linebackers on this roster, but, outside of James Patterson, not a lot of experience. We shouldn’t count out the big German just yet.
Image from ubbulls.com
Daymond Williams (DT, #95, Sr.). A juco transfer from Cisco College, Daymond (pictured above, enveloping an NIU back) was a revelation in 2021. He finished second-team All-MAC and was one of the few bright spots on a defense where everything often seemed to go wrong. He had 6.5 sacks, 46 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, and three pass breakups from his position in the middle of the scrum—although, at 6’3, 285 pounds, he’s nimble enough to take snaps defensive end. Defensive coordinator Brandon Bailey expects Daymond—a preseason Outland Trophy candidate—to bounce around the line this season, which is bad news for OLs around the MAC.
Quian Williams (WR, #3, Grad.). With all of the flashy wide receiver transfers and recruits hitting Buffalo this offseason, it’s easy to forget the Bulls are bringing back a third-team All-MAC selection who caught 64 passes for 835 yards and a pair of touchdowns last year. Which, in a way, kind of makes sense—Q’s been lauded as a quiet leader, not the stereotypical WR1 who needs, nay, demands the spotlight. “I feel like I’m doing a good job stepping into the leadership role even more, just gelling with all the guys and seeing where everyone’s going to be at, where my quarterbacks want me to be at,” Williams told The Buffalo News this spring. Williams himself is still a relatively new guy, having transferred from Eastern Michigan before his senior year. “I feel like everything is coming along pretty fine. Step by step. Just going to take it day by day…we got something great going on here, and something I definitely want to be a part of.”
George Wolo (DT, #90, Jr.). George, alongside Daymond Williams, provides the UB defense with two blocks of granite along the interior line. A three-star recruit from Olney, a Maryland suburb of D.C., George played in seven games as a true freshman in 2020 and kept the high motor going into his sophomore campaign, logging 10 starts and 22 tackles with 2.5 sacks. He was a team captain at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, led the team to a conference championship, and was a two-time second-team Washington Catholic Athletic Conference all-star.
Isaiah Wright (OL, #74, Soph.). Like Cole Snyder, Isaiah comes to UB after spending a pair of seasons with Rutgers as a three-star recruit from St. Peter’s Prep in New Jersey. He’s a big man at 6’4, 300 pounds, and has loaded over 40 pounds onto his frame since his senior year of high school, when he was playing defensive end on the 2019 Non-Public Group 4 champions. He’s another compelling possibility along an offensive line that looked in shambles after 2021 and may well turn out to be a strength of this team in 2022.
Image from The Buffalo News
Jeremy Yancey (WR, #87, Fr.). Jeremy’s a local recruit, a 6’5 wide receiver from South Park High School (home of Hall of Fame southpaw Warren Spahn and my grandfather!) in South Buffalo. He was second-team Class A South as a wideout his senior year, and he also competed in basketball (pictured above) and baseball. He weighs 195 pounds, so he’s definitely not slight, but it’ll be interesting to see how he develops as he adds additional bulk to his frame. A compelling project, to be sure.
James Ziglor III (S, #45, Soph.). We discussed James in depth last week when he officially committed to Buffalo after entering the transfer portal at Vanderbilt. He’s transitioning from offense to defense, which should be no problem for the three-star recruit who was an all-state player at Harrison High in football-crazy Marietta, Georgia. There’s a good chance James played in front of more people on Friday nights than he will on Saturday afternoons in the MAC, and that is not a slight on the MAC so much as it’s an acknowledgement of the football culture in the Deep South. Heck, Vanderbilt was probably a come down for him after a 15-0 6A state championship season as a junior! The fact that James is not going to play running back for the Bulls—the position he held for the Commodores, rushing for 41 yards in 2021 but appearing in 11 games as a kickoff returner—speaks volumes about the coaching staff’s confidence in the running back room and the anticipated need to reload in the secondary when many of this season’s transfers, like grad student Jahmin Muse, move on. Expect to see James take some kickoffs this season, as well, in order to lessen the load on all-MAC return man Ron Cook, who will likely be needed more consistently in the backfield than in years past.
Nick Zikuski (DT, #70, Jr.). While Nick hasn’t logged much action at UB to date, he once was the pride of the Binghamton (N.Y.) High School football program. From the school newsletter:
The high school football career of a standout student athlete is ending on a high note after he was named to the all-state team.
Senior Nick Zikuski was recently selected for Class AA all-state football team. The recognition came courtesy of the New York State Sportswriters Association, an organization of sportswriters from around the state that comes together annually to select the most promising players in high school football.
Zikuski, a key offensive player for the Patriots, was the top pick from Section 4 and earned a spot on the third all-state team.
Zikuski said the all-state nod was a proud moment for both himself and Binghamton High School varsity football coach, Mike Ramil.
“It’s huge. Ever since 10th grade, it’s kind of been my dream to get the accolades, and go to the big schools,” he said. “The hard work has finally been paying off, and it’s been showing.”
Zikuski is one of the captains of the varsity team, which finished the 2018 season with a record of 6-4.
Zikuski is still weighing his collegiate options, considering schools such as Colgate University, Wagner College and the University of Buffalo. Zikuski plans on playing college football and pursuing a career in the medical field.
Congratulations, Nick! You’ve made us Patriot Proud.
Jake Zimmer (LB, #56, Sr.). Jake hails from the Rochester area—Penfield, to be exact—and has spent four years at Buffalo as a walk-on. He’s redshirted for a season, and played with the scout team for two. As a sophomore, in 2020, he appeared in three games. Jake recorded 34 tackles and nine sacks as a linebacker at Milford Academy, the prep school where teammate Zach Pilarcek also plied his trade after high school. He was a first-team All-Greater Rochester selection in football as a senior at McQuaid Jesuit in 2016.
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Next week, we will delve into the 2022 schedule while updating you on any news out of North Campus football, basketball, or women’s hoops. Remember, if you haven’t subscribed, please do so! This newsletter isn’t going to be free forever, but if you sign up before the paywall is instituted, you’ll be grandfathered in. Horns up, gang —
St. Vincent Pallotti created the Union of Catholic Apostolate in 1835, worked closely with the poor and sick of Rome, and was considered a saint in his lifetime, according to the good people at Wikipedia. He was exhumed twice—once 56 years after his death, and again 100 years after he died—and his body was uncorrupted, which helped lead to his canonization. It’s still on display in Rome, if you want to check it out yourself.
While Cole is from the Jamestown area—a city located about 70 miles southwest of Buffalo and mere moments from the Pennsylvania border—he went to Southwestern High School, not Jamestown High.