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UB football players getting national notice

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UB football players getting national notice, even with uncharacteristic start to season

Keep an eye out for these guys when the University at Buffalo football team’s season begins next month.

UB players are getting plenty of notice from college football pundits and analysts across the country. The Bulls have nine players nominated to watch lists for nine different awards, including running back Jaret Patterson and defensive end Taylor Riggins.

Patterson is on watch lists for the Doak Walker Award, which is given to the top running back in college football, and the Maxwell Award, which is annually presented to college football's best all-around player by the Maxwell Football Club. Riggins is on watch lists for the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, both of which honor the top defensive player in college football.

The Bulls have the most players on preseason watch lists of any team in the Mid-American Conference, and the most of any of the three FBS programs in New York State.

“It’s great recognition for them to be recognized as individuals by those award committees,” coach Lance Leipold said. “It says a lot about the work that those players have put in and the production that they and their teammates have done. For our program, it shows what we’ve tried to do since we were here, and it’s a big credit to the assistant coaches, our strength coaches, everyone.”

Joining Patterson and Riggins on watch lists are: 

* Kayode Awosika – Outland Trophy (top interior lineman). 

* Tyrone Hill – Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back).

* Zac Lefebvre – Campbell Trophy (top scholar-athlete).

* Malcolm Koonce – Bronko Nagurski Trophy (top defensive player, Football Writers Association of America All-America committee).

* Kevin Marks – Doak Walker Award (top running back).

* Max Michel – Wuerffel Trophy (community service).

* Mike Novitsky – Rimington Trophy (top center).

Even as so many players were named to watch lists during the summer, the Bulls almost didn’t have a season because of the Covid-19 pandemic. College football is in its seventh week of competition, though with staggered starts. Six FBS conferences, including the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference, began their seasons in September, while four conferences, including the MAC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Mountain West, originally opted not to play football but are now scheduled to begin their seasons either in late October or early November. UB is scheduled to open its season Nov. 4 at Northern Illinois.

Watch lists are typically announced in July, nearly two months before the start to the regular season, and players can be added to the lists as the season progresses. Last week, the Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the top FBS receiver, announced the addition of five players to its watch list, including UCF’s Marlon Williams and Jaylon Robinson, who were fourth and fifth in the country, respectively, and first and second in the American Athletic Conference in receiving yards per game entering Saturday's play.

 

The staggered starts in college football – and the disruptions that have been caused with games being postponed because of Covid-19 issues – have created a scramble for the committees and organizations that award individual postseason accolades, and have also raised questions about whether awards would be bestowed at all.

Would players still be considered, even if they didn’t play a down of football? Would the pool of candidates – some nominated by schools, and others assembled by committees – shrink or be watered down because of smaller statistical sample sizes, particularly given that some conferences are playing as many as 11 regular-season games and others, such as the MAC, are playing six?

“Because of the pandemic, we’re going to see different sample sizes for players,” said Steve Richardson, executive director of the Football Writers Association of America. “We’ll do the best we can with what we have, based on that. Is it possible that someone could play in only six games and be on a list of candidates? Yes. I can’t say that would be impossible, but nobody playing is likely going to have more than 10 games. It’s going to be trying, for all of the awards.”

 

Jeff Lockhart, the associate director for the PwC SMU Athletic Forum and the Doak Walker Award, said the organization was waiting to see when and even if college football would be played this season, even after it announced its initial watch list in July.

“We were in a holding pattern,” Lockhart said. “If they were going to have a playoff and a championship, we were going to move forward in awarding those. But we knew people may not be on a level playing field, as far as games played. We were obviously excited that football was going forward, and we said, ‘if there’s a season, we’ll have an award winner,’ but we have to evaluate with what information we have.”

 

That could mean a player with strong statistics who plays in only three games would be compared to a player who appears in eight games with comparable statistics.

“We’re going to have to try to evaluate that and make the best decision possible,” Lockhart said. “Ideally, most kids will play a similar amount of games, but that may not be likely, at all.”

College football watch lists are not static, with players regularly added. For example, the Nagurski committee also names weekly national defensive players of the year, and adds those winners to the watch list, if they are not already on it. 

“Members of our committee are seeing, each week, the best defensive performances in the country," Richardson said. "They get each conference’s players of the week on defense, and if someone comes out of the blue and racks up statistics, he will be noticed.”

Award winners are typically announced at the end of the regular season, but that has been pushed back, too, because some seasons will stretch into the third weekend of December with conference championship games. The Nagurski Trophy finalists are scheduled to be announced Dec. 9, and the winner is scheduled to be announced Dec. 22. The FWAA All-American team is also scheduled to be released Dec. 30, two weeks later than it is normally released.

 

“There’s going to be a lot that’s done differently,” Richardson said. “But I think we’ll have enough games that we’ll be able to ascertain who are the best players.”

The preseason recognition is definitely a boon for the Bulls, whose only award winner was in 2013, when Khalil Mack was named the recipient of the Jack Lambert Trophy, given to the nation’s top linebacker.

Leipold sees it as a validation of the program’s success and as a confirmation of its player development.

“Let’s be honest, our recruiting classes don’t get very much fanfare,” Leipold said. “If your recruiting classes aren’t getting a lot of fanfare, but these guys are ending up on these lists, what has transpired? It’s evaluation, it’s development. It’s the intangibles and it’s developing their God-given athletic abilities to put themselves in this position.”

But Leipold also hopes it becomes a motivator.

“The other part of it, though, and I’ve told our team this, is that we have a lot of these guys that are getting those types of recognition, but for us to be the type of team we hope to be, we need everyone to step up,” said Leipold, who is about to begin his sixth season at UB. “You can have some guys there that make those lists, but you need a complete football team in order to have a chance to win a championship.”


“There he goes. One of God's own prototypes.

A high-powered mutant of some kind, never even considered for mass production.

Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”

 

Twitter: @HKTheResistance

 

HipKat, on *** other h***, is genuine, unapoli***tically nasty, and w**** his hea** on his ******. jc856

I’ll just forward them to Bridgett. comssvet11

Seek help. soflabillsfan

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