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Hamlin goes home this week UB receiver will have his mom in stands

His hometown of Jupiter, Fla., is only about 2 1/2 hours away from Central Florida's campus.

So senior wide receiver Brett Hamlin knows that Saturday night's game will be the closest thing to a homecoming that he's had in his time with the University at Buffalo Bulls.

But there will be something a little extra special about this trip -- the fact that his mother will be in the stands.

"She's been to games in the past," Hamlin said. "But this is her first one this year. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in May. She's doing well now."

Hamlin pointed to his right wrist where he sports a light pink band in honor of his mother.

"You'll always see me wearing this," he said.

It's a tribute to his mother off the field, while on the field, he's become a key component of the Bulls' offense.

Buffalo was the only offer Hamlin had coming out of high school, as the 6-foot-1, 196-pound receiver was overlooked by everyone in his home state.

While recruited by the former Bulls coaching staff, he has carved out a role on the team under Turner Gill. Hamling is in his fifth year of eligibility after taking a medical redshirt his sophomore year with a foot injury.

"Brett's a steady guy and has been all three, four years I've been here," Gill said. "He's been an outstanding receiver. He's now going to have the opportunity to be a bigger part of our offense. . . . He's done a great job coming in and being a playmaker for us. When the ball is in his hands, he's going to be able to make a lot of plays. That's what he has to do and he's done that.

"He's been very reliable, not just catching the ball but also as a leader on our football team. Even though he's not technically a captain, he's still a leader."

Hamlin had a career day in Saturday's 54-27 loss to Pittsburgh, catching 12 passes for 149 yards. The 12 catches were one shy of the school record.

And while Hamlin had a solid season as a junior (38 catches, 459 yards), this year he spent extra time not only improving himself but working with new quarterback Zach Maynard.

"Drew [Willy] was right-handed and Zach is left-handed and that puts different spin on the ball," Hamlin said. "Going back to the spring, Zach and I would work after practice or after workouts just throwing and getting used to each other while I've worked on my speed and agility."

The relationship between quarterback and receiver is crucial for either to have success, and Gill, a former QB himself, has seen that trust develop over the first two games.

"A lot of it has to do with Zach Maynard," Gill said. "Zach is very comfortable with Brett. Speaking as a quarterback, you're going to throw to the guys you feel very good about and very comfortable with. And I think he feels very good about the whole receiving corps, not just Brett."

Hamlin's role in the offense expanded this year. While Naaman Roosevelt remains the primary target, Hamlin has taken over second-option duties and enjoys his role on the team.

"Naaman is the touchdown guy and I'm the first down guy," Hamlin said. "And I love that. I love being able to help the team and keep the offense going. I love the feeling of keeping a drive alive."

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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