The past two seasons -- the first two seasons of the Jeff Quinn era -- the University at Buffalo Bulls football team has gone a combined 5-19. Not all that impressive.
What is impressive, however, is that the team's leaders throughout those two years were youngsters. Many fans have long believed that now-juniors Branden Oliver and Khalil Mack have pro potential, and that notion was affirmed this week.
Oliver, a 5-foot-8 running back from Miami, Fla., was one of the best offensive players in the Mid-American Conference last season. He didn't have much help, but his efforts were noticed. On Monday, Oliver became the first player in UB football history to be named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which recognizes the nation's top college football player.
Not to be outdone, today Mack (a native of Fort Pierce, Fla.) was named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, which honors the top defensive player in the nation. The 6-foot-3, 244-pound linebacker is a monster. He has some of the biggest arms you'll ever see.
It's not surprising that the two are training partners and very close friends. Over the summer, they focus on uphill, sled-pulling, weighted-vest running at UB's old football stadium.
--- Aaron Mansfield