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UB Bulls football preview: Why Buffalo Bills fans should watch

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The 2018 Bulls boast an immensely talented team and are ready to make noise in the MAC.

It’s not often that we here at Buffalo Rumblings take the time to discuss the city’s other noteworthy football team, that is, the one belonging to the University at Buffalo. While the Bulls haven’t been that excited or intriguing the past few years, 2018 promises to be different. This year, thanks to a number of legitimate NFL prospects, the team might even make Bills fans sit up and take notice.

First, a history lesson. When quarterback Joe Licata graduated in 2015, the Buffalo Bulls were woefully unprepared for his departure and hit rock bottom the very next year, finishing 2-10 in 2016. While the team was a disaster, some good things came out of that season. For one, redshirt freshman Tyree Jackson was anointed the new starting quarterback. Then, the team landed Anthony Johnson, a wide receiver transfer from Iowa Western Community College. The two players burst onto college football’s consciousness the following year, helped by Johnson finishing 6th in the nation in receiving with 1356 yards. Jackson, despite a mid-season injury, demonstrated some deadly deep ball accuracy and dual-threat capability. The two players carried the Bulls to a 6-6 record. Now this coming season, the duo promises to be one of the best QB-WR combos in the nation, let alone the MAC Conference. A MAC Championship and bowl eligibility for the Bulls isn’t out of the question.

On offense, the Bulls sport the aforementioned junior quarterback, Tyree Jackson, a 6’7”, 245 pounds raw lump of potential. His arm strength is phenomenal and, if he has improved at all since last season, he should garner a healthy amount of NFL Draft buzz. Anthony Johnson, with his speed, hands and pro-ready 6’2” frame, is already on most draft analyst’s radar. If he can continue right where he left off in 2017, Johnson will likely become a first- or second-round draft selection. Tight end Tyler Mabry and center James O’Hagan have quite a bit of potential as well. Both have been named to preseason award watch lists for their respective positions. The Bulls are absolutely stacked on the offensive side of the ball.

Though not quite as talented as the offense overall, UB’s defense also boasts an NFL-caliber prospect in junior linebacker Khalil Hodge. Hodge is a tackling machine at the second level, piling up 123 in 2017. He’ll need to answer some questions about his speed, but he likely projects as a WILL linebacker at the next level. Hodge is largely kept clean by his defensive line, a group that includes all-MAC defensive end Chuck Harris and junior defensive tackle Justin Brandon. Harris is the one worth watching, as the senior is the most experienced member of the d-line.

UB’s season kicks off on September 1st, 2018 at 6:00 PM at Delaware State. Whether you’re interested in the team’s NFL draft prospects or are just interested in seeing how far they can go, I’d encourage you to tune in. Also be sure to check out our sister site, UB Bull Run, for up to date news and opinion.