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True freshmen step into the spotlight

By Rodney McKissic

With so many returning starters, there are only a few spots available where true freshmen can potentially make an impact, but three days into UB's training camp a few could find their way onto the depth chart.

On defense, defensive back Houston Glass from Kentwood, Mich., and linebackers Solomon Jackson from Stone Mountain, Ga., and Brandon Crawford from Madison, Fla., have looked strong.

"Those guys have really stepped up," UB coach Jeff Quinn said. "They've been here this summer and I think they have a chance to go out there and prove what they know and what they can do to help this defense."

Offensively three wideouts - Boise Ross from Bethlehem, Pa., Jamarl Eiland from Canton, Mich., and Jacob Martinez from South Port, Fla., are pushing for immediate playing time as is long snapper Corbin Grassman, the cousin of punter Tyler Grassman, from Alexander, Ohio.

"Those guys kind of jump out right now," Quinn said. "I think they've all done a nice job. They've been very attentive and they understand they're opportunities are going to be presented by the way they come out prepared and the way they perform."

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Joe Licata will be the first to admit he isn't the most swift afoot, but the sophomore quarterback is making plays and showing mobility in the pocket.

"That's been a little something we've talked to him about," Quinn said. "Just being more present in the pocket, making plays back there, staying alive. The kids are doing a great job up front, the big fellas. ... That's giving Joe some time to get his eyes down field and find some open receivers."

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While Quinn likes his freshmen wide receivers, redshirt freshman Malcolm Robinson was mentioned a possible No. 2 threat at receiver to complement senior Alex Neutz. Robinson attended Canton (Ohio) McKinley High School, one of the largest and oldest schools in the talent-rich state.

Quinn also mentioned junior wideouts Cordero Dixon and Devon Hughes and tight ends Jimmy Gordon and Alex Dennison, a pair of seniors, sophomore Matt Wesier and redshirt freshman Mason Schreck as target who have showed promise in the early days of camp.

"Those guys all give another added feature that we need in order for us to continue moving the chains and putting ourselves in scoring position and capitalize on that," Quinn said. "All those guys are going to be factors."

Video: UB football works to strengthen special teams

The News' Bob DiCesare talks about day two of UB football training camp and the focus placed on special teams.

O Little Town . . .

By Bob DiCesare

O Little Town? Actually, Bethlehem, Pa., isn't all that little. It totals about 70,000 residents and from that mix it turns out more than its share of Division I football players. Two of them -- sophomore defensive back/linebacker Okezie and true freshman receiver Boise Ross -- are expected to be contributors this year at UB.

Continue reading "O Little Town . . . " »

If the Shoe Fits . . .

By Bob DiCesare

UB head coach Jeff Quinn doesn't see UB's wealth of running backs as a predicament. He views it as a challenge, one he's willing and eager to confront.

The Bulls did some work out of the pistol formation Monday and found creative ways to employee backs who would otherwise be underutilized in an offense that features workhorse Bo Oliver as the primary runner.

"You have to," Quinn said. "It's always been one of my philosophies: If you have a lot of good players play them all, Play the good ones, and if you've got a lot of good players, play them all. And I think that's an important message to send to these kids as they're out looking for different schools. The freshmen are going to come in very eager.

"We have these players that all understand that they have a role and a responsibility and accept it," Quinn said. "At the end of the day there's only one ball and we got to do everything we can to play solid football for 60 minutes and I think we got enough personnel to do that."

The revelation this season could be sophomore runner Anthone Taylor, who redshirted last year. A standout in spring ball, Taylor showed great hands Monday and an ability to turn corners at full speed.

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It's going to take some time to sort out the wide receivers roles but Monday's drills showed a marked improvement over last year, when seemingly everybody except Alex Neutz struggled to get open throughout much of camp.

Video: UB Football: Roundup of major developments as team begins training camp

The News' Bob DiCesare attends opening day of UB football training camp and discusses major developments that could shape the outcome of the team's season.

Recipe for Success?

Fred Lee knows his way around a kitchen. Alex Neutz knows business. The two UB wide receivers and roommates could be cooking up a future after football.

"We have conversations about everything," Lee said. "Life after football, that's the biggest thing. We don't know what we want to do. Neutz wants to open a restaurant, I want to start a school, but we want to work together and be business partners. He's getting an MBA and I'm a chef at a restaurant now and going to get my psychology degree so we'll figure it out."

Lee, formerly a fixture at Taco Bell, is a chef at The U, located on Maple Road next to the AMC Theaters.

"I'm the head chef there now," Lee said. "I started in the offseason and during the year sometimes we get off, like on a Thursday, I go there. But I got a staff so I let them take over my spot a little bit during football until I come back. It's exciting."

Potts Makes the Grade

By Bob DiCesare

UB running back James Potts was in a precarious position. He had made a full recovery from the ACL tear that abruptly ended his sophomore season. But now his grades were threatening to make him an academic casualty and keep him off the field yet again.

Potts couldn't bear the thought of being away from the game any longer. He yearned to get back and follow up on his last play in a UB uniform -- a 49-yard touchdown run against Morgan State in the second game of last season. All the work put in rehabilitating the knee would go for naught unless he hit the books.

Continue reading "Potts Makes the Grade" »

UB Punt Game, Relatively Speaking

By Bob DiCesare

UB head coach Jeff Quinn never has been shy about commiting scholarships to specialists. Show him a kicker or a punter he can rely upon for three or four years and he'll tender an offer. The same goes for long snappers, a vital cog in the kicking games.

Quinn made just such a move this offseason, brining in a freshman long snapper he sees giving the program four years of production. And that long snapper is Corbin Grassman, who it so happens is the cousin of the Bulls punter, sophomore Tyler Grassman.

Continue reading "UB Punt Game, Relatively Speaking" »

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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare | bdicesare@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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