Fifth-year senior Dillon Guy could fill a big experience gap on the offensive line for the University at Buffalo this season.
UB graduates three offensive linemen who combined to start 108 games over the previous four years. Waiting in the wings to plug one of the openings is Guy, who sat out all last season due to foot injuries.
Guy played in 35 games on the offensive line with 12 starts from 2011 to 2013. He was the starter at right guard for UB in the Idaho Potato Bowl at the end of the 2013 season.
“I’ve been 100 percent since October,” Guy said after UB’s practice session Monday. “I’ve cut a lot of weight. I think I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in.”
Guy has started at left guard the first week of spring ball. He brings ideal size to the position, at 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds.
Guy proved his toughness during UB’s 8-6 campaign in 2013, when he battled injuries to both feet. He had a bone issue in one foot and ligament damage in the other. Guy started the first three games, gave way to Robert Blodgett for seven games, then got healthy enough to start the final three games, including the bowl game against San Diego State. He played at 335 pounds.
“It was difficult, but with the year we had, we were winning, and you don’t feel as much pain when you win,” Guy said.
Guy had surgery on his left foot in January 2014 and on the right in April 2014.
“We chose to delay the surgeries until after the season, and we knew that I probably was going to be red-shirted last season,” Guy said. “I wasn’t cleared to do running until September.”
Guy is from Hamilton, Ont. His father, Shawn, played football at Purdue University and then played a year for the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Guy said the Ti-Cats and the Buffalo Bills both were his favorite teams growing up.
He said he picked UB over Connecticut, Virginia and San Diego State in part because UB was first in on his recruitment and because he wanted to stay close to home.
His O-line buddies from last season, starters Andre Davis, Trevor Sales and Jake Silas, are gone. But he said he’s happy to get a chance to be part of coach Lance Leipold’s new regime.
“I view it as a fresh start,” Guy said. “Everyone needs fresh starts. I think this whole team needed a fresh start, and that’s what we ended up getting. I think everyone has bought in, and that’s a testament to our team.”
He knows precisely what the UB offense averaged last year – 32.3 points – and thinks the new O-line will pull its weight.
“I feel like on the line it’s like an engine, we’re interchangeable parts,” he said. “Obviously losing Dre, Trevor and Jake is tough. … But we have a lot of returners coming back on offense and a lot of explosive players.”
Leipold likes the experience Guy potentially could give the line.
“In these early practices he definitely has the potential to step into a role and help us,” Leipold said. “That could be a big boost. I know a little about his past. But just watching him, even in helping out, hosting players through the recruiting process, you see his maturity, his passion.”
UB practiced through rain, snow, wind and then sun Monday.
Leipold opted to practice at UB Stadium as opposed to the Adpro Sports Training Center in Orchard Park.
“You’re going to have to fight through these things,” Leipold said. “You don’t want to hinder yourself too much in development in these practices, but there are positives that you’re going to have to have; wet ball drills, and the mental toughness of dealing with distractions from the weather. I was very pleased with the way guys went through it today.”