Two junior college players targeted to help fill vacancies on the defense are among the 18 players from nine states who make up the 2013 University at Buffalo recruiting class announced Wednesday by coach Jeff Quinn.
Linebacker Blake Bean of Butler Junior College in Kansas and defensive end Tedroy Lynch of Lackawanna (Pa.) Junior College could provide immediate assistance as a defense ranked second in the Mid-American Conference last season absorbs the graduation losses of defensive end Steven Means, nose tackle Wyatt Cahill and linebackers Isaac Baugh and Dalonte Wallace.
Bean, an inside linebacker, goes 6-foot-1, 235 pounds and has already joined the UB program. He was a state high school wrestling champion in both Oklahoma and Kansas. Lynch (6-2, 245) had 13 tackles for losses and 9.5 sacks last year and is viewed as a disruptive force in the mold of Means.
Quinn said he and his coaches strived to fill needs and strike an across-the-board balance in distributing the available scholarship allotment. They signed 11 players on defense, six on offense and a special teams specialist in long snapper Corbin Grassman of Alexandria, Ohio. If the name sounds familiar it’s because Grassman is the cousin of punter Tyler Grassman.
For the first time in Quinn’s four-year tenure, the Bulls deviated from a master plan that calls for a quarterback in every recruiting class. The reason: They felt the need just wasn’t there. The Bulls return last year’s season-ending starter in Joe Licata, last year’s season-opening starter in Alex Zordich, a multi-threat backup in Tony Daniel and a highly regarded talent in Collin Michael, a 6-5, 225-pounder with a superior arm who redshirted last season as a freshman.
“We had needs at other positions and I felt very strongly that I wanted to get all four of our quarterbacks the maximum amount of reps, so I did break a little bit of my thought process there,” Quinn said. “We had needs and we wanted to get these kids ready and we wanted to maximize all their opportunities to get the reps.”
(Quinn later added that there is no firm No. 1 quarterback heading into the spring; both Licata and Zordich would be considered the front-runners).
Beside Grassman, the high school players in the 2013 recruiting class are:
Defense: Brandon Crawford, 6-2, 235 OLB/DE, Madison, Fla.; Andrews Dadeboe, 5-11, 180 CB, York, Pa.; Xavier Davis, 6-2 280 NG, Atlanta; Chris Ford, 6-3 300 NG, Medina, Ohio; Jarrett Franklin, 6-3 205 OLB, St. Charles, Mo.; Houston Glass, 6-2 185 S, Kentwood, Mich., Solomon Jackson, 6-1 230 OLB, Stone Mountain, Ga.; Greg Lis, 6-1, 220 ILB, Lincoln Park, N.J.; Zach Smekal, 6-4 255 DT, Medford, N.J.
Offense: James Coleman, RB, Queens Village; Jamarl Eiland, 6-1, 185 WR, Canton, Mich,; Brandon Manosalvas, 6-4, 280 DL, Paramus, N.J.; Jacob Martinez, 6-0, 180 WR, South Port, Fla.; Boise Ross, 5-11, 180 WR, Bethlehem, Pa.; Joe Schillace, 6-1, 230 FB, Auburn.
Martinez and Eiland are two of the more intriguing players in that group. Both are listed as athlete/wide receivers because of their versatility.
Eiland primarily played receiver as a junior but moved to quarterback for most of his senior season. His father played at Grand Valley State for the Brian Kelly coaching staff that included Quinn.
Martinez quarterbacked Bozeman High as a junior. He possesses superior speed and could evolve into a deep threat while also vying for an opportunity as a punt and kick returner.
Rivals.com ranked UB’s recruiting class as the weakest in the country among 123 Division I teams although it’s commonplace knowledge that programs in the non-major conferences recruit more with an eye on development than instant impact. Bulls linebacker Khalil Mack was lightly regarded out of high school and has a chance to go in the early rounds of the 2014 NFL draft. And former record-setting UB running back James Starks of Niagara Falls, now with the Green Bay Packers, had no offers out of high school except for UB.
Quinn acknowledged that one of his top priorities during the offseason was in helping Mack, the two-time All-MAC linebacker, determine whether to leave early for the NFL draft or return for his senior season.
“It was my first time going through it and I [sought] out advice from a lot of coaches that have players … that were recognized as juniors to be potentially draft picks in the NFL,” Quinn said. “So what I did was contact the NFL. A junior can have their film evaluated and they make a decision whether they’d be drafted in the first three rounds. They share that information with me – the head coach only – and the prospect.”
Quinn traveled to Florida, he said, “and shared it with his parents, talked to them. I was very forthright, honest, upfront about the situation. I also told them how I felt about him. And I told him there was two reasons why you came to the University at Buffalo, No. 1 to earn a degree and No. 2, to help this program compete for championships … and we haven’t accomplished that yet.”
Quinn said he reviewed with Mack statistics that showed financial troubles encountered by many NFL players and the two-year average on length of a career and concluded, “The best advice I can give you, son, is to stay for your senior year.”
Mack announced last month that he would forego the NFL draft and remain at UB.
UB opens spring practice on March 26 with the Blue-White Game scheduled for April 20 at UB Stadium.