The truth about football recruiting at the mid-major level is that it usually takes three years or more to get a handle on the strength of a class. Most incoming freshman red-shirt. Then they’re eased into the lineup. For every player like University at Buffalo running back Devin Campbell, who showed great promise as a true freshman last season, there are a dozen who require more time to acclimate to the college game – and college life as a whole.
National Signing Day has a different feel at the major programs. Schools like Alabama, Notre Dame and USC are in contention for high school seniors who have been identified as among the best in the nation. They land some players so talented they’re expected to make an immediate impact. They land players recognized as already possessing NFL potential.
But at schools like the University at Buffalo? It’s almost always about development and waiting to see what gems – Khalil Mack, Branden Oliver, Alex Neutz – emerge. When UB announces its football recruiting class today it won’t change the fact that the biggest news of the offseason was Mack’s decision to forego NFL temptation and return for his senior season.
At UB, National Signing Day represents both a culmination and a beginning. The coaching staff will – like all coaching staffs – express a sense of satisfaction over the players who have made a firm commitment by signing a Letter of Intent. Recruiting is time-consuming, frustrating and rewarding. Today’s the day there’s tangible fruit from the labor. And yet, with the arrival of summer the next phase begins.
UB will announce its recruiting class this afternoon. The one player already signed is Blake Bean, a linebacker from Butler Community College in El Dorado, Kan. He’s one of four Butler linebackers to join a Division I program.
Players who have made verbal commitments to the Bulls in advance of today include wide receivers Jamarl Eiland out of Plymouth High in Canton, Mich., and Dubois Ross from Bethlehem, Pa.
Wide receiver looms as a need position for UB after a season in which Neutz accounted for one-third of the team’s receptions and 11 of its 17 passing touchdowns.
Others who have made verbal commitments are quarterback Jacob Martinez of Panama City, Fla., safeties Andrews Dadeboe of York, Pa., and Houston Glass of Grand Rapids, Mich., running back James Coleman of Christ the King in New York, defensive end Brandon Crawford of Madison, Fla., and linebacker Greg Lis of Wayne, N.J.