When Brandon Williams arrived on Buffalo’s campus in the fall of 2014, Solomon Jackson took him under his wing.
“He showed me around Buffalo,” Williams said. “He took me around campus and there were times when I needed a place to sleep, he let me sleep on his couch. He was a great leader. He taught me how to be a Buffalo Bull.”
Williams will carry his former teammate’s memory on his back when the Buffalo football team opens its season at 6 p.m. Saturday against Delaware State. Williams will be the first Buffalo player to wear No. 41 this season in honor of Jackson, a former Buffalo defensive end who died of a heart-related issue in March 2016, a week after he collapsed during an offseason workout.
Coach Lance Leipold announced Tuesday that the number will rotate among players on a weekly basis.
“I had a chance on Friday to visit with Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, and that was the decision that came about for this first game,” Leipold said. “It’s good for Brandon. Brandon, much like Solomon Jackson himself, made a position change. Brandon’s an outstanding guy in our program, a team player.
“We have a lot of guys that are worthy of that opportunity, but Brandon, being a young man from Georgia, he’s done a lot of things off the field, much like the way Solomon represented himself while he was with us.”
Linebacker Jarrett Franklin wore No. 41 in 2017 for the Bulls, and cornerback Boise Ross wore No. 41 in 2016. This is the first time the number will rotate.
Williams is a fifth-year senior from Georgia who began his career at Buffalo as a cornerback and has switched to safety this season. Williams had 43 tackles, four pass breakups, a forced fumble and an interception in 2017.
Asked what he remember most about Jackson, Williams said, “I think of the way he carried himself. When things weren’t that good, he was still positive. He was a great person, a great role model and a great leader.”