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Andre Davis had long dreamed of playing football for the University at Buffalo.

The senior offensive lineman was raised in Cheektowaga and played football for Maryvale High. He grew up watching UB football, which jumped into the national spotlight just as Davis was blossoming as a player.

In 2008, Davis was at every home game for the eventual Mid-American Conference Champions as then-coach Turner Gill was in the midst of luring him to UB.

When Gill left to accept the head coaching position at Kansas, Jeff Quinn picked up where he left off, looking to get a commitment from Davis.

Little did either know, playing UB football was more than an option for Davis, it was a dream.

Playing in his own backyard for one of the area’s finest academic schools was an offer too good to pass up.

“It means a lot,” Davis said. “I love being close to home, close to family, close to the people who support you all the time. I was talking to a couple other recruiters but as soon as I got my offer, I committed.”

Davis’ journey wasn’t without trials, however. Four games into his senior year at Maryvale, the reigning all-conference defensive lineman tore his ACL, knocking him out for the season. He redshirted his freshman year.

He spent the fall semester of that year working on his game as a defensive lineman. After he returned from winter break that year, he was informed he would be switching to offensive line.

It was quite an adjustment for Davis, who was forced to change the way he approached the game. “Offensive line isn’t the easiest position to switch to,” Davis said. “It’s something you’ve got to practice. It’s unnatural to go backwards when someone’s coming at you and not give up any ground.”

Heading into his senior year, Davis has become one of the team’s most reliable starters. He’s made 37 consecutive starts. As a sophomore, he earned the team’s workhorse award, given to the player who plays the most snaps.

“You want to play as many games as you can and make as many plays as you can,” Davis said. “To do that, you have to stay on the field for the entire year.”

Quinn has watched Davis grow into one of the team’s best lineman and most reliable players over the past four years.

“He’s got a very good, solid base to him,” Quinn said. “He understand leverage. That’s what I love about him. He moves as quickly as he needs to, but he also knows how to temper himself and be in the right position.”

Quinn counts quiet leadership and the willingness to do anything he can to help the team as among Davis’ best qualities.

He changed positions in the middle of his freshman year for the good of the team. He’s played through three full years at a brutally physical position without missing a game. In some ways, this has paid off. He was a starter on last year’s eight-win squad.

But, before Davis graduates in the spring, he wants to accomplish what the 2008 team did. The team that partially sold him on attending UB.

“I don’t have any personal goals, I just want to win a MAC Championship before I leave.”

email: tnigrelli@buffnews.com