The University at Buffalo football team has firmed up its incoming 2020 recruiting class.
UB announced that it added three players at the start of the spring signing period Wednesday: a high school signee, a junior-college transfer and a graduate transfer from Massachusetts.
"This group adds what we need to fill, through graduation and rebuilding depth at safety," UB coach Lance Leipold said.
Michael Ford, a 6-foot-3, 250-pound offensive lineman from Flossmoor, Ill., announced his commitment Monday on social media. Recruiting website 247Sports ranks Ford as a three-star recruit and the No. 44 recruit in Illinois.
"Buffalo offered my chosen major, which is engineering," Ford said in a direct message to the News. "The campus was beautiful and safe. It felt like a home away from home. The coaches were genuine, which made me have a welcoming feeling. As a family, we felt UB was a better fit because it is not far from home but also not close."
Ford describes himself as a versatile lineman who is strong, quick and coachable. He's the second recruit from Illinois in the incoming 2020 class, along with Trevor Borland, a tight end from Bolingbrook.
"Michael Ford is a talented guy who had a lot of offers, and people looked at him on both sides of the ball," Leipold said. "He had a lot of attention from Group of 5 schools, and to sign a second player from the state of Illinois, our recent success has opened those doors back up for us."
Ray Thomas-Ishman, an offensive lineman who is a graduate transfer from Massachusetts, announced on his Instagram account in January that he will join the Bulls. Thomas-Ishman started 34 games in his first three seasons at UMass and played guard and tackle for the Minutemen, but was suspended in late September last season. He opted to redshirt in 2019.
Ford and Ishman are the fifth and sixth offensive linemen in UB's incoming 2020 class, joining incoming freshmen Tyler Doty (St. Joe's), Deondre Doiron and Sam Todd.
"Losing six senior offensive linemen, instead of signing six freshmen, we had to spread out our classes a little more," Leipold said. "We had opportunities and positions for people to earn playing time."
E.J. Brown is a 5-11, 205-pound safety from Iowa Central Community College who had 75 tackles, three fumble recoveries and four pass breakups in 2019. Brown spent his freshman year at West Virginia University, where he primarily played on special teams in 11 games in 2018, but entered the transfer portal in the spring of 2019.
Brown, Leipold said, fit into the fold for the Bulls after the graduation of safety Joey Banks, and the loss of sophomore safety Dewun Hilton, who sustained his third ACL tear.
Fourteen players signed with the Bulls during the early signing period in December, a group comprised of two running backs, a quarterback, a tight end, three offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, two defensive backs, a wide receiver and a linebacker.
The spring signing period continues through April 1. UB opens spring practices Feb. 23, and opens the 2020 season Sept. 5 at Kansas State.