University at Buffalo senior linebacker John Syty lived the mantra so often iterated by head coach Jeff Quinn. Through a commitment to offseason workouts, Syty reported to training camp bigger, stronger, faster. He quickly was penciled in as a starter at inside linebacker.
But Syty's been absent from the field since early in camp. And Thursday night, following UB's final scrimmage session, Quinn detailed the reason. Team physicians have recommended that Syty sit out the season because of symptoms related to a concussion.
"It's not John's decision," said an emotional Quinn. "They're just saying, you know what, this is best for you to kind of "
Syty was not immediately available for comment. He red-shirted as a freshman, meaning his eligibility would seemingly expire with this season-ending issue. However, there have been cases when players have petitioned the NCAA and been granted an additional year.
This isn't the first time Syty's been sidelined by a head injury. He missed last year's games against UConn and Bowling Green after suffering a concussion against Central Florida on Sept. 18. He appeared in all of the other 10 games, totaling 17 tackles.
"He's very disappointed," Quinn said, noting that Syty initially opposed the doctor's recommendations. "He cares deeply about this university. But it's in his best interests. We're going to let the experts make that decision."
Syty, who entered the program as a walk-on, will remain with the team in a quasi-coaching capacity. He was first-team all-state and all-Western New York at Clarence and a two-year captain for the Red Devils.
Red-shirted freshman Lee Skinner from Dayton, Ohio, has been the primary fill-in during Syty's absence and likely will ascend to a starting role. He's looked good in camp, validating the notion that linebacker is one of the team's deeper positions. Skinner is 6-foot-2, 247 pounds and came to the program last year as a recruited walk-on.
The Bulls have received some good news on the offensive line. Centers Jasen Carlson and Josh Violanti have put on pads, are running and could be cleared for full practice as soon as Monday. Violanti has missed all of camp following offseason surgery. Carlson has been sidelined since the early portion of camp with a knee.
One or both could be available for the Sept. 3 opener at Pitt if they get in a week of practice. That would allow the Bulls to move Graham Whinery out of the center spot and back to his left guard position.
The Bulls looked sharp offensively in Thursday's scrimmage. Starting quarterback Chazz Anderson hooked up with Ed Young and Alex Neutz on nice touchdown throws and looked firmly in command of the offense.
"I think we said through two days ago we'd thrown 800 passes through the course of camp," said senior slot receiver Terrell Jackson. "The thing is taking advantage of those reps, and Chazz has done an incredible job setting the bar high. We're comfortable coming out of our routes. We know the ball's going to be there."
Running back Jeffvon Gill broke off a pair of major runs, nearly going the distance after taking a handoff at his own 1.
"I wasn't happy with our tackling," Quinn said. "It's been pretty good up to now."