It’s not hard to figure out which NFL player is an inspiration for new University at Buffalo safety Tim Roberts.
Roberts has long, thick, flowing hair, just like former Pittsburgh Steelers star safety Troy Polamalu.
“Definitely, I watched him day and night,” Roberts said after Tuesday’s practice. “I always had long hair. I’ve been growing it for at least eight years. The last time I got it cut was fifth or sixth grade.”
Roberts will get the chance to impress UB fans in the season opener Friday night when he makes his first start for the Bulls.
Red-shirt freshman Dev Lamour started most of the first three weeks of training camp at safety for the Bulls along with returning starter Ryan Williamson. But Lamour has been out the past week with an injury, and Roberts has moved up.
Roberts played high school football just outside of New Orleans then spent two seasons at Fullerton College in California. But he had the grades to play Division I out of high school. He took the junior college route because he didn’t have any college offers. So he was able to enroll at UB in January and had the benefit of a full offseason working with UB coaches.
Roberts is 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, and he was a linebacker in high school.
“Tim is a very physical safety,” said UB coach Lance Leipold.
Leipold said Andrews Dadeboe would see significant time opposite Williamson, as well.
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UB’s first two-deep roster was released Tuesday. The Bulls have 12 new starters, eight on offense and four on defense. Plus, 17 of the 22 players on the second string were not among the top two units last season.
Graduate transfers Remaine Douglas and Joe Keels worked their way onto the second-team defensive line. Douglas came to UB from Louisiana-Lafayette. Keels transferred from Nebraska. Two true freshmen made the second-team list – middle linebacker Matt Otwinowski and guard Tomas Jack-Kurdyla.
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Freshman defensive lineman Jake Fuzak, a first-team All-Western New York pick out of Williamsville North, has yet to hit the field with the Bulls this summer due to a medical issue. Leipold said Fuzak has not yet been cleared to start practice.
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UB guard Jacob Byron, the Marine Corps veteran, was unconcerned about the protest by San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remained seated during the national anthem at a game this week.
“To each their own,” Byron said. “In the military you’re taught to respect all flags, all colors. That’s just what he chooses to do.”