Too slow, too small. Those were just two of the labels attached to tailback Joe Cerminara two years ago when he came out of Lewiston-Porter. Here's another: Ready to contribute.
The 5-foot-9, 204-pound redshirt freshman was the highlight in Saturday's Blue and White Scrimmage at the University at Buffalo. Cerminara ran between the tackles well and showed bursts of speed on the outside while rushing for 104 yards and three touchdowns in the controlled scrimmage. The offense outscored the defense, 50-24.
"I had a good view of the field, and I had good vision," said Cerminara, a first-team All-Western New York pick in 2003. "I was seeing the blocks and making cuts and kept pushing hard."
After fumbling on his first carry, Cerminara scored the scrimmage's first touchdown on a 48-yard run. He also scored on two goal line runs from 4 yards out.
"Joe has really worked very hard," said UB coach Jim Hofher. "It's nice to see a young guy keep developing and improving. He had a long run and did a nice job in the goal line area, too."
Yet because tailback is perhaps UB's deepest position, it remains to be seen how much Cerminara will play next season. Juniors Steven King, Jared Patterson and Chris McDuffie rushed for 1,114 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. Cerminara probably received more reps than expected because King was out with a dislocated elbow and McDuffie was limited with quad pull. But he made the most of his opportunity.
"If people want to say I'm too slow, they can come out here and see what happened," Cerminara said. "I'm not trying to prove things to people, I'm trying to show them I can play at this level and I am playing on this level."
Two players who are seeking more playing time next season, sophomore linebacker James Judges and free safety Sherwan Saaty, led the scrimmage in tackles. Judges had six tackles, including four sacks, while Saaty had six tackles and one pass breakup.
Saaty is competing with redshirt freshman Kareem Byrom and senior Stephen Thomas at free safety, which was held by J.J. Gibson last season. Hofher signed eight defensive backs in February, including freshman Gerald Jackson, who enrolled in January.
"Others will join in August, and we're excited about some of the prospects that will join us, and we'll keep working that and developing that," Hofher said. "I like where our guys have developed to this point."
Saturday was the official dedication of Walter Kunz Stadium, named in honor of a former faculty member and a longtime supporter of the athletics program. Kunz's donation helped UB purchase FieldTurf for the stadium, which the Bulls used all spring for practice.
In previous years, the Bulls moved spring practice to the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse, and most of the sessions were at night.
Junior linebacker/safety Ramon Guzman is now wearing No. 31 and in case you're scoring at home, he's changed his number four times (30, 55, 32 and 31) since arriving on campus. . . . The defense received six points for a defensive touchdown and a fourth-down stop inside its 20, three points for a blocked field goal, fumble recovery or interception, and two points each for a stop on fourth down, blocked PAT or safety, three downs and out and a caused fumble.