The Bulls hit a demographics bomb this season. The defensive backfiled of Domonic Cook, Josh Thomas, Davonte Shannon, and Sherrod Lott started eight games. The Bulls will be without any of them this upcoming season. The only other back to start was Carlos Lammons.
Three of UB’s departing seniors have been fixtures in the UB record books and the fourth, Sherrod Lott has been a constant factor at UB over the past couple of seasons.
In a way the class of 2009-2010 was fare more important for the defensive backfield. Asking a freshman to arrive on Campus this summer and make a positive impact on the field.
To that end Coach Gill and company had brought in s hand full of guys who were either defensive backs or had the potential to change over to that position. Among some of the more promising guys was Okoye Houston.
Rivals had the physical defensive player as being among the best 80 corner backs in the country. He saw more action than most of his classmates and looked like he will have little trouble growing into the role. If you put aside Lammons and Houston the defensive backfield is full of question marks.
He was joined last season by Delano Fabor, Dwellie Striggles, Witney Sherry, Keith Takeh. Five of the dozen returning defensive backs were true freshman last season.
They will be joined by this years defensive backs in a desperate attempt to fill some massive shoes.
So how did UB do with Defensive Backs?
Moderate to Severe! While two returning players are guys that have seen a lot of the filed the rest of UB's defensive backs are completely unknown quantities. To that end pulling in several players is pretty vital to the mid term future of this defense.
Minnifield might just be another in a line of UB Diamonds in the ruff. He was a key player in Daphne's, 6A State Championship run (Alabama State Championship).
If not for an unrelated face masking penalty his late interception would have sealed the game for the Trojans. Instead the rest of his defensive unit held their opponents to a field goal attempt which would fall short.
It is a bit concerning that he slipped until late January with no other offers from FBS schools. While the level of his competition was impressive so was the quality of the other defensive backs on his team.
Still among his piers he stood out. He recorded 63 tackles and four interceptions and earned All-County honors as both a junior and senior. As a participant in Max Emfinger’s All-American game in Baton Rouge, LA, and was nominated for MVP.
Baker is another question mark. His only other offer that I could find was from Youngstown. In addition to playing corner Baker played tailback for Robinson High. He was also a pretty decent kick returner.
As a senior he had 58 tackles, two interceptions, nine pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He managed to get named all conference in the football rich state of Florida while helping to take his team to the state semifinals.
He has the speed to play corner, there is little doubt about that but weather or not his coverage will keep MAC receivers in check is questionable.
Like Minniefield there should be a concern that no other FBS school saw fit to offer the him a ride but Jeff Quinn has not been at Buffalo long enough to know if he is the kind of Coach that finds the right players under the radar.
Position Grade (DB): C
The name Jim Hofher makes many UB fans shudder. An acquaintance had heard Hofher was being looked at for the offensive coordinator at his second favorite school (BC) and he nearly lost it.
But if you put aside the mediocre game day performance of Hofher and look at what his recruits did you see a coach who found NFL talent with little or no interest for other FBS schools.
Looking at the corner backs I really hope Coach Quinn can manage the same thing. These are guy's who "seem" to be solid athletes but not a single solid FBS offer until late January, and that offer came from UB the week before national signing day.
On paper this is not the type of backfield I had hoped would be called on to fill the shoes of Shannon, Cook, and Thomas but this is who we have. Either Quinn can find the guys nobody else does or the Bulls are going to suffer with depth in the next few years.