Exactly one tight end in all of major college football had more catches last season than the University at Buffalo’s Matt Weiser.
Just three of them had more receiving yards.
By any statistical measure, Weiser had one of the best seasons of any player at his position in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, which includes 128 teams.
“I did have a really good year,” Weiser said, “and I have to give all the credit to my teammates for giving me that opportunity to have the year that I did.”
The big question is, will that be enough to earn him a shot at the next level? Weiser will find out this weekend during the 2016 NFL Draft.
“I’m super excited for it. It’s been a long time coming,” he said of draft weekend. “I’ve really been anxiously waiting for this moment to finally be here. Now that it is, it’s sort of surreal.”
Weiser’s 63 catches set a UB single-season record for tight ends and rank tied for eighth on the program’s all-time list of catches in a season. Those 63 receptions went for 625 yards, showing that the 6-foot-5, 241-pounder is a legitimate receiving threat.
“Teams are looking for tight ends that can do it all,” he said. “I think I showcased my pass-catching ability during the season. I’m developing into a very good blocker, but teams are looking for a great blocker.”
To get from very good to great, Weiser spent the time leading up to UB’s Pro Day in March training in Carlsbad, Calif., at Activ8 Athleticism under the direction of coach TJ Moreno.
“I was working on my footwork and hand technique,” Weiser said, “just trying to improve my overall blocking skills.”
Following his Pro Day, Weiser has stuck around Buffalo, training at STA Sports Performance in Elma with Bulls teammates Joe Licata and John Kling. All three are hoping to get drafted this weekend, or land in a training camp as an undrafted free agent.
“We all understand what each other’s feeling,” Weiser said. “We’re good friends, so we joke around with each other. We push each other to work harder, so it’s a good environment for us right now.”
Weiser is the 21st-best tight end in this year’s class, according to CBS Sports, with an overall ranking that puts him in the undrafted free agent category. He’s had workouts with the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers, so he’s at least on the radar of a couple of NFL teams.
“My agent is always on the phone talking to teams,” Weiser said. “It’s been a long road up to this point.”
Even if Weiser – who graduated last year with a degree in communications – doesn’t get selected, he hasn’t necessarily reached the end of that road. Former teammate Bo Oliver has shown that, playing the past two seasons with the Chargers after signing as an undrafted free agent following the 2014 draft.
That same year, the Bulls’ Khalil Mack was drafted in the first round, fifth overall, by the Oakland Raiders while last year, UB’s Kristjan Sokoli was chosen in the sixth round by the Seattle Seahawks. That’s three former teammates who have taken three distinct paths to the next level.
“Absolutely it would mean a lot to be the next guy,” Weiser said. “Seeing Khalil, seeing Bo, seeing Kristjan Sokoli last year – even just the guys who got invited to camps after the draft – we take pride in UB. My experience here has been incredible and I want to be able to be the next guy to represent UB in the NFL.”
Licata, Weiser’s quarterback, and Kling, a 6-foot-7, 313-pounder, share that same goal. Kling, who played left tackle at UB, also had private workouts with the 49ers and Chargers, who under General Manager Tom Telesco – a St. Francis High School graduate – have kept a close eye on UB prospects.
The last member of the Bulls to keep tabs on during draft weekend is outside linebacker Okezie Alozie. He led UB with five sacks in 2015, and finished third on the team in both tackles (85) and tackles for loss (10.5). Against Ohio, he had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
His performance at UB’s Pro Day in front of scouts from the Bills and Steelers could have turned some heads. His vertical and broad jumps both would have been among the best at his position at the NFL Scouting Combine had he attended, while his 40-yard dash time of 4.78 seconds (unofficial) would rank in the middle of the pack.
It’s likely that Alozie will move to defensive back should he get a shot in the NFL.