The University at Buffalo added some much-needed speed and bolstered its 2017 recruiting class with some key commitments in the last two weeks of January.
The Bulls added 22 players Wednesday, the official national signing day for high school football players.
“As always, you’re looking to add speed, athleticism and depth into your program,” UB coach Lance Leipold said. “We’ve got to create more depth and competition on both sides of the ball. At the linebacker position we wanted to add some more competition in speed on the outside, as well as at the safety position. We were able to do that.”
UB signed six players who were rated as three-star recruits, and four of them were secured in January.
Annual disclaimer: Recruiting rankings are notoriously inaccurate, especially at the Mid-American Conference level. Power 5 Conference schools sign roughly 1,000 players. No recruiting service has a clue who is the 1,200th best high school player in the nation.
UB, coming off a 2-10 campaign, will look mostly to Leipold’s previous two recruiting classes to gain ground on the field in 2017. Nevertheless, the late additions were encouraging for various reasons.
Two of them come from Pittsburgh – safety Rick Squires of Penn Hills and linebacker Tim Terry Jr. of Central Catholic, Dan Marino’s alma mater. Squires starred at receiver and linebacker and had been pursued by Akron, Army, Toledo and Miami Ohio. In May he held an offer from Boston College. Terry, also pursued by Bowling Green, adds some needed speed and athleticism to the outside linebacker position.
“Pittsburgh is probably an area where we haven’t done a good enough job since I’ve been here,” Leipold said. “In talking with people there, I think we were able to land two well-thought of athletes, versatile football players."
“Tim Terry’s a guy who when you watch him on film he’s going to jump out at you,” Leipold said. “He’s got the length you’re looking for. He’s very athletic.”
“Rick Squires from Penn Hills is a guy who’s maybe played a little out of position,” Leipold said. “He’s a very athletic player, used in different positions. We’re going to start him out at safety. He’s played all over on defense.”
Other late additions included three-star safety Kobe Green of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and three-star receiver Rodney Scott of Florida state champion Miami Southridge.
UB needs an impact safety, and Green was rated the 68th best player in talent-rich Broward and Palm Beach counties by the Florida Sun-Sentinel. Scott was committed to the Miami Hurricanes last March and also held a summer offer from Maryland. He decommitted in September. It’s likely his speed wasn’t considered quite up to Atlantic Coast Conference standards. But he has exceptional ball skills and athleticism.
Other three-star recruits are Ohio quarterback Kyle Vantrease, who graduated early and already is enrolled at UB; and linebacker Ja’Varius Harrison of North Florida Christian in Tallahassee, Fla. Kent State, Troy and Southern Mississippi were among those who pursued Harrison.
Other breakdowns of the class:
Positions: There are five linebackers, five defensive backs, three receivers, three defensive linemen, two running backs, and one player at quarterback, tight end, offensive line and long-snapper. UB recruited the O-line heavily last year and likely will do so again next year.
Speed: Receiver Isaiah King of Norfolk, Va., is a track star whose times in the 200 and 400 meters would have been best in Western New York last spring. Defensive back Wankeith Akin of New Jersey ran times in the 100 and 200 meters that would have placed second at the Section VI championships last June. Cornerback Dawun Hylton of Opa-Locka, Fla., ran a 400 time that would have won the Section VI meet.
Early enrollees: Six signees already have started the spring semester at UB and will be full participants in spring ball. They are: Vantrease, Hylton, junior college linebacker Nikolas Ricks of Ohio, cornerback Ali Abbas of New Jersey, tight end Julien Bourassa of Quebec and defensive end Malcolm Koonce of Peekskill.
Edge rushing: UB needs it and got three prospects. Koonce went to Archbishop Stepinac in White Plains, the alma mater of UB recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello. UB held a summer camp at Stepinac, and four players who attended it are in this class. Frendy Darelus of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has the kind of frame (6-5, 220) that UB has lacked at edge rusher. So does long-armed Jaylin Nolden of Ohio (6-3, 220).
WNYer: UB got a commitment from Canisius High linebacker Cole Burniston, a first-team All-Western New Yorker.
Twins: James and Jaret Patterson of Glendale, Md., come to UB from St. Vincent Pallotti High, where former UB star Justin Winters serves as defensive backs coach. James, a linebacker, is higher rated. Jaret, 5-8 and 170, rushed for 2,045 yards last season and knows UB great Bo Oliver through Winters. He has Oliver’s picture on his phone as a screen saver.