Emmanuel Reed is used to playing behind other running backs.
For two years in high school he played behind his older brother, Micah. Once he came to the University at Buffalo, he once again found himself behind older talent, first in 1,000-yard career rusher Jordan Johnson and now second on the depth chart to junior Johnathan Hawkins.
But patience has never been a problem for Reed.
He waited his turn and took advantage of his opportunity to shine. Saturday night he rushed for a career-high 120 yards and scored his first career touchdown as the Bulls defeated Colgate, 33-10, at UB Stadium.
"When you've got great running backs like Jordan Johnson, you accept you have to wait because he's a great running back and he taught us a lot last year," said Reed, a sophomore from Crestview, Fla., who redshirted his freshman year. "I've been waiting three years for this.
"I always played behind another good running back. So it's not really a big deal for me," Reed said. "When I get in, I just try to provide a little spark to the offense."
A spark he was indeed.
Reed, who played in just three games as a reserve running back last season, was consistent in his 22 carries and scored his first career touchdown, a 10-yard run with 48 seconds left in the first quarter.
It was an opportunity not just for Reed but for the coaching staff to use him effectively. In the first two games, coach Lance Leipold said they struggled to get the right balance between Reed and Hawkins. In Saturday's win, Reed made a strong case for more carries.
"If anyone saw any of our scrimmages in fall camp, he showed this type of ability," Leipold said. "... To see his quickness and his physicality is great to see. He's definitely going to help our football team."
"He can create something because he's a littler back," UB quarterback Tyree Jackson said. "He gets behind the linemen and he makes great cuts."
Yes, Reed is a "littler back." But with his speed, Reed sees his height, listed at 5-8 (which may be true in cleats) as an advantage.
"Yeah like I'm only 5 foot 6 and our offensive linemen that block me is like 6-4 so I get a lost in there a little bit," Reed said. "But it's definitely a great advantage to have."
That line received plenty of praise from Reed and Jackson as the Bulls broke out offensively. UB racked up 486 total yard with 303 of those coming on the ground.
Reed's 120 rushing yards led the Bulls followed by Jackson, who rushed for his own career-high 97 yards and one touchdown, taking full advantage of the quarterback option.
"Anything coaches call, I trust in," Jackson said. "We're gong to try to execute it. So if it has me running the ball, then that's what we're going to have to do. I feel like the receivers played well and that softened the box and let us be able to run the ball."
The first five plays of the game for UB were running plays. As the Bulls established the ground game, it opened up the opportunity for some big-gain passing plays.
Jackson connected with Tyler Maybry for a 58-yard gain, Anthony Johnson for a 46-yard gain, and KJ Osborn for a 25-yard play.
"We were going to emphasize the run-game early and establish the line of scrimmage, try to get that going a little bit," Leipold said. "You look at our first two games we generated big plays through the air but we never ever got the running game consistently going. And to see us be able to methodically move down the field was really a pleasure to see."