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NOT LIKE A ROLLING STONE: DYLAN IS STAYING HOME
Plus: Lunch break basketball today as the UB women face EMU at noon.
Image from ubbulls.com
Folks, we were this close to an exclusive.
We connected with a source very close to University at Buffalo running back and Western New York high school football legend Dylan McDuffie on Monday morning to ask, just for the heck of it, if Buffalo’s star tailback had decided on his plans for 2022.
McDuffie, of course, previously announced he was entering the transfer portal in early January—a potentially devastating blow to the Bulls’ offense—but had been quite low-key about his plans since.
A small piece in Vols Wire, USA Today’s dedicated University of Tennessee news portal, indirectly quoted McDuffie as saying he’d “…been in contact with a good amount of coaches and wants to go somewhere and play his style and win, (and) also noted he loves tempo offenses.” Otherwise, radio silence.
Anyhow—the source got back to us early Monday morning to say McDuffie was considering Oregon, Oklahoma, and Cal—holy smokes—but Buffalo “was still on the table.” The source noted that the addition of running backs coach Greg Knox to the UB staff intrigued the former Sweet Home High School superstar, who rushed for 1,049 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
Who’s Greg Knox? Glad you asked. From Rachel Lenzi of The Buffalo News:
Knox coached running backs at Florida and was its special teams coordinator for the last four seasons, and Knox was Florida's interim head coach for its final regular-season game and its bowl game this season, after Florida fired head coach Dan Mullen in November.
Knox has coached college football since 1988, and has coached in the Southeastern Conference since 1995, at Ole Miss, Auburn, Mississippi State and at Florida.
(UB Head Coach Maurice) Linguist and Knox were on Mullen's staff at Mississippi State in 2016; Linguist coached safeties and Knox coached running backs and was the Bulldogs' special teams coordinator.
The source also noted that while playing for a Power Five monolith like the Sooners or Ducks (no offense, Cal) was attractive, the prospect of winning a Mid-American Conference title with the hometown Bulls—and with Linguist—made leaving UB difficult.
We left it at that, and were pretty proud of our intrepid journalism for a few hours until this broke on Twitter:
Scooped by the Voice of the Bulls! It could be worse.
Here’s what McDuffie told The Buffalo News about his decision to stay (some of which sounded painfully familiar):
“I just put faith in Coach Knox and Coach Mo (Maurice Linguist),” McDuffie said. “(Former UB running backs) Coach (Mike) Daniels was a very important guy to me, and when he left (to take the same position at Georgia Tech), I was a little shaky. But we hired Coach Knox and it was a 180 for me…
“He coached a lot of NFL guys, and we sat down and talked about a lot of things. Football, life, how he could make me a better back, a better person and an NFL prospect. He has 27 years of coaching in the SEC, and if anyone can help me, it’s him…
“I want to get better in every aspect of the game,” said McDuffie, who also considered offers from Cal, Oregon and Oklahoma. “Being a leader, motivating my teammates, and being a guy my coaches and teammates depend on ... 2021 was an OK season for me, personally, but we didn’t achieve the goals we had for the team. The only thing I’m focused on is winning a MAC championship, for my team and for my city…
“Going through everything and taking the time to sit down and think about what is best for me, and where I can reach my goals,” McDuffie said. “I felt like Coach Knox and Coach Mo laid out a great plan for how I can do that at UB. Being at home is very important to me, for my family to watch me, and to be able to help this team.”
Anyhow, our loss is Buffalo’s gain, and we are happy to take that L to see DMD return to campus. We’re looking forward to seeing the young man go to the next level in 2022 and, fingers crossed, fulfill that dream of bring home a conference trophy.
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A QUICK NOTE FROM TYLER STEPHENS
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Judging solely by the numbers, the 2021 performance of former Bulls tight end Tyler Stephens—157 receiving yards, one touchdown—may not seem like much.
There were times, however, when the 6’6, 229-pound three-star recruit from Braceville, Ohio, where he was a legitimate two-sport star for a high school sports powerhouse in a football-crazy state, looked to be on the verge of a breakthrough. When he entered the transfer portal and subsequently committed to Missouri, one couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
We did connect with Tyler online, however, and we are happy to report his motivations are those of a true sportsman.
“(Missouri) was a great opportunity for me to get better and play with the best of the best,” he wrote. “I don’t think any college player would pass it up. Thank you—I had so much fun at UB!”
The Tigers, 6-7 overall and 3-5 in the SEC last season, were in needed of help at tight end. We’ll have an eye on Tyler to see how he fits in, and will be rooting for him, of course.
AFTERNOON BUCKETS: UB WOMEN HAVE EARLY MATINEE AT EASTERN MICHIGAN TODAY
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While messing with spreadsheets and scheduling meetings to discuss other meetings is all well and good, you have our permission to open ESPN+ in a browser window and watch the UB women play Eastern Michigan in Ypsilanti today at noon.
The Bulls (12-7 overall, 6-3 in Mid-American Conference play) are coming off a 68-61 home victory over Northern Illinois that opened a new world of four-dimensional chess for Head Coach Felisha Legette-Jack.
The shocking emergence of freshman forward Saniaa Wilson—who scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and blocked two shots while essentially dominating the third quarter in her first game in the Blue and White—along with fellow frosh Georgia Woolley’s seeming insistence upon scoring in greater and greater droves suddenly provides injury-plagued Buffalo with a measure of both depth and options.
The Bulls are currently in second place in the MAC, behind Toledo (15-4, 9-1), who dropped its first game of the season to fourth-place Ohio (11-6, 5-3) on Jan. 26. UB is 71st in the NCAA NET rankings, and 23rd in the College Insider Women’s Mid-Major Top 25.
Some notes from UBBulls.com on the mid-day #MACtion:
Image from ubbulls.com
(Junior guard Dyaisha) Fair leads the Bulls and ranks eighth in the nation in scoring at 21.8 points per game. Summer Hemphill is averaging just under a double-double with 14.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while Woolley (pictured above) has scored in double figures in 13 of the last 14 games and is averaging 12.3 points per game. Buffalo is distributing the basketball at an excellent clip, averaging 15.7 assists per game and a 1.12 assist-to-turnover ratio, both ranking in the top 40 nationally while also ranking 41st with a +4.0 turnover margin. That leads to a potent offense which ranks 27th in the nation in scoring (75.2 ppg).
Eastern Michigan enters Wednesday's contest with a 5-11 overall record and 2-7 league mark after defeating Miami (OH) 80-69 on Saturday. The Eagles are led offensively by Areanna Combs who is averaging 18.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Ce'Nara Skanes (12.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg) and Danielle Rainey (12.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg) are also averaging in double figures. Skanes became the program leader with 18 career double-doubles and Combs set a single-game program record with 19 made free throws, both in the win over Miami (OH). Eastern has found success at the charity stripe this season as they rank second and third, respectively, in the MAC in free throws made (224) and free throws attempted (319). Additionally, EMU has been tremendous at taking care of the basketball, ranking third in the league and 29th nationally in fewest turnovers (232).
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