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Neutz stands out in UB game; Receiver recovered from wrist injury

Just who will be throwing the passes when the University at Buffalo football team opens its season in September remains a question.

Who will be the primary recipient of those throws, however, is very clear.

Junior receiver Alex Neutz showed Saturday he's fully recovered from the broken left wrist that prematurely ended his 2011 season. He caught six passes for 112 yards and a pair of touchdowns during the Bulls' annual Blue-White game, which ended spring practice.

"It was a confidence issue, more of a mental thing. Structurally, the wrist is healed. The surgery went well," Neutz said. "[Saturday] was an awesome test. I got to block. Everything was full-go, catching, getting tackled. I felt good."

That's welcome news for a UB offense that lost its other two top receivers (Marcus Rivers and Ed Young) to graduation. Neutz caught touchdown passes from both Alex Zordich and Joe Licata during Saturday's game, the two quarterbacks fighting for the starting job.

"When you have that much depth, it just shows you all the talent we have on this team," Neutz said. " Even if one does go down, we have a backup that's ready to go."

Despite missing the final three games of 2011, Neutz still finished with team highs in receiving yards (641) and touchdowns (four). The Grand Island High School product scored first on a 42-yard strike down the left sideline from Zordich, then added an 8-yard score on the final play of the first half from Licata.

"Alex is a tremendous leader for our football program. He's a winner. He trains hard and I couldn't have been more pleased to see he was able to get open and make the tough catches," coach Jeff Quinn said. "I really feel good with where we are with Alex. It was a great to have him out there. His leadership inspires us."

Zordich had the statistical edge in the quarterback battle. He finished 9 of 17 for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Licata, who opened the game as the starter, went 7 of 13 for 99 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Quinn said after the game the quarterback battle will last into training camp.

"I don't think it would be fair right now to say, 'hey, this guy's No. 1.' We know who took the No. 1 snap [Saturday] and that was good, but at the same time, I think when you look at Zordich, there's still some time," Quinn said. "I think it's fair to both of them to know that it's still an open competition. They're going to have an opportunity to prove themselves in the summer. I think that's what you want. They're both hungry to do it."

Both quarterbacks were on board with that.

"You always want to compete," said Licata, a redshirt freshman out of Williamsville South. "You never want to be comfortable with your position, you always want to have someone there. You want to fight for the job and earn it."

Zordich, who narrowly lost out on the job to Chazz Anderson last season, will be a junior in the fall.

"Competition is going to be a part of it all the time, especially at the quarterback position. Accept it. You've got to love it and get better from it," he said.

The offense (white team) produced six touchdowns and a field goal in the first half. Starting tailback Branden Oliver rushed 16 times for 77 yards, while Devon Hughes caught eight passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.

The defense (blue squad) fared much better after halftime, allowing just three field goals.

Senior linebacker Willie Moseley was a standout on defense, finishing with eight tackles and four sacks.


UB announced a $1 million gift to the Division of Athletics on Saturday from former Bulls hockey player Tunney Murchie and his family.

The donation, one of the largest single commitments in UB Division of Athletics history, will be used toward capital projects in UB Stadium and Alumni Arena, including a new entrance to the UB football office center. Construction on other multi-purpose spaces will start later in the year.

Murchie is a 1975 graduate of UB with a degree in management. He also earned his MBA at the school in 1976. He played hockey for the Bulls from 1971 to '73.

He's the owner of Lackawanna Products Corp. in Clarence.

"My family and I are excited to be part of the on-going efforts to improve the facilities at UB for all sports programs," he said in a release.