In the Mid American conference only two teams fielded worse defensive backfields than the Buffalo Bulls. Akron, which was almost a given in any category and Ball State who managed to get ranked second to last nationally. That's what happens when you lose four or five all conference quality players, UB Record Holders, and guys who at the very least got a look from NFL teams.
Coach Jeff Quinn experimented with several freshman in 2010, but none of them really panned out. He ended up using what experience he had over the promise of youth. So last year, when he had to fill the entire backfield with the same players who did not measure up in 2010 the results were pretty predictable. UB did not have consistent enough play from enough of their backfield to slow down their opponents.
Statistically it was a bust but it was a bust with youngsters so there are some positives to to be found.
Cortney Lester led the Bulls in interceptions and was second among defensive backs in tackles only to senior Josh Copeland. Lester, who goes into camp as a sophomore, will be fighting for a job on a team of defensive backs that is made up of four red shirt freshman, six sophomores, five juniors, and one senior.
Josh Copeland: Copeland's solid year at the free safety spot netted him an impressive 69 tackles, more than 40% of his career total in just year. Copeland is a converted linebacker who has filled in well when the team needed him most. This past season he was good for about five tackles a game, with highs against Northern Illinois and Temple.
Alan Hayes: Used for depth a bit in the 2010 season and during some games this past year Hayes never quite broke through into the regular defensive backfield. However he was always a solid contributor on special teams.
Joe Petit: Petit has been a depth player for UB. Most recently he was backing up Cortney Lester.
|POS||1st (Class)||2nd (Class)|
|CB||Najja Johnson (Jr)||Carlos Lammons (Jr)|
|SS||Isaac Baugh (Sr)||Whitney Sherry (So)|
|FS||Okoye Houston (Jr)|
|CB||Cortney Lester (So)|
Next Seasons Depth Chart:
Here is the surviving depth chart from late last season. Okoye Houston was tagged as a 'co starter' with Josh Copeland and Cortney Lester was backed up by Joe Petit.
So going into the spring who will challenge for a spot on the two deep?
Keith Takeh: Had some work last season, on special teams, but he was a sound prospect at the prep level. His senior season saw him tally 30 tackles, five interceptions, 15 pass breakups.
Dwellie Striggles: He is a fast player who played his way onto the special teams. At the prop level he played corner back where he broke up 11 passes, recorded two interceptions and added 19 tackles.
Adam Redden: He was ranked among top 250 "athletes" in the country in ESPN recruiting rankings out of highs school. UB recruited him as a wide out but moved him to defensive back when a need arose.
Derek Brim: Brim was a walk on who made the team. The former WNY standout made the move from receiver to the backfield at the same time as Redden.
Marqus Baker: had 58 tackles, two interceptions, nine pass breakups and two forced fumbles as a senior. But like Striggles he did it as a corner.
Clearly a lot of the talent that coach Dietzel has at his disposal lies in players who are not natural safeties. So perhaps rather than asking who among these players comes out as a backup safety we should ask if Carlos Lammons competes for the Free Safety spot or stays at the corner?
They Boys of Summer (safeties)
This lack of natural depth at Safety could be why Coach Quinn and his staff have recruited no less than four listed safeties.
Brandon Berry: Berry spent his senior season making the transition from outside linebacker to strong safety. In his hybrid role on the defense he racked up 56 Tackles and 8 sacks during his junior year.
William Rembert: Rembert is another recruit from Cass Tech, where he shares the defensive backfield with Brandon Berry. He plays with that similar aggressive style as Berry.
Julian Kaminoff: 247 Sports describes him as "a play maker in all three facets of the game". Kaminoff has a shot at breaking in on special teams.
Okezie Alozie: Alozie, an Express Times All-Area first-team defensive back, recorded 33 tackles, three fumble recoveries (one for a score) and an interception for a touchdown last season.
They Boys of Summer (cornerback)
C.J., Stancil: During the All-American Football Skills Academy combine at University High School Stancil ran a 4.66 40, a 4.4 20 yard shuttle, and checked in with an impressive vertical of 36.4 inch jump. This season landed him on the All Dominion district first team.
The lineup that comes out of spring is going to give a pretty good indication as to how things shake out during the summer. Buffalo has an open sport at the corner and another for a free safety. There a ton of youth, and a lack of game experience among the players fighting for their spot on the two deep.
With four "natural safeties" coming in there is room for a summer shake up in the backfield after that.