By Aaron Mansfield
Two University at Buffalo football players are making national noise.
The pair of Florida natives who have cemented their careers as some of the finest in UB history were named to national award watch lists Tuesday – running back Branden Oliver to the Maxwell Award (which recognizes the nation’s top college football player) and linebacker Khalil Mack to the Chuck Bednarik Award (the top defensive player).
They were both named to their respective watch lists in 2012, as well.
Mack and Oliver, roommates their junior year and training partners, are entering their senior year. Mack, a Sports Illustrated honorable mention All-American last season, had 94 tackles, including 21 for loss, eight sacks and four forced fumbles in 2012. He played 11 of the squad's 12 games. Oliver battled injuries last year and played just seven of the team's 12 games, but he averaged 117.3 rushing yards per game. He set UB's single-season rushing record (surpassing James Starks) with 1,395 yards his sophomore year.
Oliver is the first player in program history to be named to the Maxwell Award watch list. Seven Mid-American Conference players made this year's Maxwell watch list and two made the Bednarik.
The Bulls, who finished 4-8 last season, the third under head coach Jeff Quinn, will open their 2013 campaign Aug. 31 at Ohio State, ranked No. 5 in Sporting News' preseason NCAA rankings.
* * *
Follow reporter Aaron Mansfield on Twitter @aaroncmansfield.
taggedUniversity at Buffalo