Here are the highlights of coach Lance Leipold's 20-minute news conference on the 2016 recruiting class for the University at Buffalo.
UB added 15 players Wednesday, Counting the seven mid-semester signees, UB brought in seven transfers. One, quarterback Grant Rohach from Iowa State, has one year of eligibility left. Four have two years. Two have three years.
Leipold on bringing in more experience: "The thing that jumps out to me is addressing some needs. . . . There’s four-year players, two-year players, three years of eligibility, a lot of mixture that I think is really going to help our program move forward."
"I don’t believe in quick fixes. I think when you build a program you’re going to build it for the long run, and that is always our goal. That said, from the first team meeting we’ve ever had, we said it’s also important to win for that senior class last year, and we’ll continue to strive to do so. In today’s college football world, everything has been sped up, from recruiting to the time you get to build programs. So we want to make sure we’re doing that."
Counting the mid-year signees, UB has five new linebackers.
Leipold: "A year ago at this time we did not sign any linebackers. We thought through the transition that we’d have able bodies and people who were going to be moved. This time we wanted to make sure we signed a class of linebackers. I think we filled our needs definitely in that area."
"One of the things, especially with the linebacker position, and it’s something we’re going to continue to address in spring practice is we need to play better in special teams. One of the things we looked at last year is we played three linebackers really too much, probably 95 to 99 percent of the snaps. That’s too many. We want to be able to rotate and build depth and build competition. We need those players to be on special teams. Because those starters were playing so many snaps, they weren’t really special teams contributors. I think by signing a class with different age groups, that’s going to help answer some of those concerns for us."
Leipold on new freshman speed receiver Jordan Overton of Ohio: "He’s a little bit smaller receiver. He’s going to be a slot receiver for us. He comes from an excellent program. His father has done a lot of coaching the Cleveland area. I think he’s going to have a large upside and have a make-you-miss capability that will add depth to that inside receiver, Z receiver spot."
On running back Cameron Pickett from Georgia, who picked UB over New Mexico, UConn, Southern Mississippi and others: "It’s the second year in a row we’ve signed a running back from the Atlanta area. He had a lot of options in different parts of the country. We feel we’ve got a guy who’s going to be able to hit some big runs for us but also I think he’s going to be excellent inside the tackles as well, to add to what we have."
Leipold on adding Rohach in December, who he stressed will have to compete in a three-way QB competition: "It was a big decision. We’re excited about Chris Merchant and Tyree Jackson. But we explained it to them that adding another experienced arm into the room was something we wanted. There were multiple ways to look at it. Grant knows that he has to compete for the position. It’s going to allow those two other quarterbabcks to keep continuing to develop the way we wanted. It wasn’t going to be a two-year junior college decision. But it also allowed us to get one older quarterback, a guy who’s been in a Power Five conference, he’s played in Big 12 games, he’s started games late in the season in November in Iowa. . . . He’s a quality person. He’s going to add a lot of leadership and maturity to our football team that’s going to help us even beyond his playing time."
On QB recruiting: "As you watch what’s happening in Division I football, signing two quarterbacks in one class is not done very often. For us to make sure we were keeping one in each class, we had options on how to do that. What was the best way to do it was to add instant competition, instant experience, and a year from now Grant’s eligibility will be exhausted and we’ll be able to sign another quarterback."
On UB's O-line, which has been hit hard by graduation the past two years: "Within the program. I think we’ve continued to add people and competition. Roubbens Joseph joined the program last year, started a lot of ballgames. He played some tackle. We moved him into guard. Bobbby Blodgett, John Kling graduated. We have Albert McCoy, Tyler O’Henly played tackle. Roubbens may be a guy who moves back out to tackle."
On tackle recruit Kayode Awosika from Minnesota: "A very athletic young man. Quality family, comes from a very good program. He weighs over 300 pounds right now, and he looks like a guy who weighs 275, and he can move his feet. Very excited about him."
On Williamsville South DT Jake Fuzak, the top lineman in WNY this year: "He’s a quality young man, first of all. I talked many times about what a quality person Joe Licata was and what he did for this program as a player and a person. I feel very fortunate to sit here and talk abobut another quality man from Williamsville coming into our program. He’s passionate about being here. In my short conversations even in his unofficial visits in the summer, this is a young man who’s very prideful about being from Buffalo, and he talks about it. Not only is he going to help us on the field, he’s going to be a quality student, and he’s going to promote what this area and this university and program are about. I think he’s just starting to scratch the surface of his abilities."
On adding two highly-touted cornerbacks, Tyrone Hill of New Jersey and Roy Baker of Hialeah, Fla.: "The first think you’d notice compared to maybe what’s presently in our program, is more length at the corner position. When you look at some of the people we’re lining up against and what happens sometimes at wide receiver, people throw the ball up. It’s going to give us some length. I think both guys can also cover guys in the slot. They’ve had a little safety experience."
"Tyrone Hill is a talented young man. One of the things that jumped out to me on his film right away, he comes from an excellent high shool program, was his contributions on special teams. A lot of times when you’re dealing with cornerbacks, receivers, running backs, you’re thinking he’s the return man. You see Tyrone covering kicks. . . . You have to continue to embrace special teams once you get here. He’s a versatile young man. He’s physically developed at a point where I think he’s a guy who’s physically further ahead of other guys who have come in as freshmen in the defensive backfield."
On Baker: "A long body, comes from an excellent program. He committed to us in the summer, had some Power Five offers in the summer. Good length. He’s 6-2. I think through weight-room development, I think he’s got a bright future."