Duke Hwang exceeded expectations by getting on the field as a true freshman for the University at Buffalo defense last season.
He’s hoping a year of development and strength training helps him play a bigger role this season.
Hwang – pronounced Wong – was a first-team All-Western New York pick out of Williamsville North in 2014. UB had no senior defensive linemen last season and only two juniors. So underclassmen were pressed into service.
Hwang appeared in six games on defense and played 49 snaps. He had a tackle for loss against Nevada and a hurry against Miami.
“It was definitely an eye-opening experience,” Hwang said. “It was great to get the chance to play. It makes me more motivated to work harder to try to get more playing time to help the team win.”
He weighed 270 to 275 as a high school senior but now he’s up to 285 to 290.
A year of college strength training has helped, too. His bench press is up 40 pounds from last year to 375. His squat lift is up 50 pounds to 550.
“Physically my body has developed a lot thanks to the strength coaches and coach Cid,” said Hwang, referring to sports performance coach Ryan Cidzik. “Football-wise I feel like my knowledge of the game has increased and my technique has gotten a lot better.”
There’s even more competition for snaps at defensive tackle than last season. Senior Max Perisse and junior Chris Ford are the starters. Justin Brandon saw the third most snaps last year. Also back besides Hwang are Corey Henderson, Jake Khoury and Christian Gonzalez. The Bulls also added senior transfer Remaine Douglas from Louisiana-Lafayette, and he looks like he may push his way into the top four at DT. The good news for all of them is the UB coaches showed last year they are committed to playing defensive linemen in waves.
Hwang picked UB over Texas-El Paso and Colgate. He has twin younger brothers, Andrew and Jason, who are seniors for Williamsville North’s team this season.