UB has had a nice run lately with Ex-Bulls in professional football. I did not say in the NFL because UB has had some great players with great success in the CFL as well as the NFL.
James Starks - After a breakout performance in 2010 en route to helping the Packers win the Super Bowl, Starks is probably UB's most famous football alum in the pros. Starks was drafted by the Packers in the sixth round—193rd overall—in the 2010 NFL Draft. This season has yet to see James make it onto the field with turf toe issues. This is the third straight year injuries have cost him major playing time. Starks missed half of his rookie season with a hamstring injury. Last season, he managed only 19 carries over the Packer's final seven game because of knee and ankle injuries. The talking heads were throwing around the idea that Starks would be released when the Packers signed Cedric Benson. That was not going to happen. When healthy, Big Games James is special. UB lost James his senior season at UB and it really hurt the team. Every Bull Fan is hoping James can have a nice long healthy run in the NFL.
More after the break:
Now time to visit our friends in the Great White North (Take off eh!) The next Bull Alum grabbing some headlines in Ex-Bulls QB Drew Willy. Drew signed this year with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. If you have never watched a CFL game, you are really missing out on some fun football. Willy was the most prolific passer in Buffalo football history. As a four-year starter, he set school records for completions (849), attempts (1,322), passing yards (8,748), touchdowns (52), total offense (8,639), and completion percentage (64.2). During the final 20 games of his college career, Willy threw 36 touchdown passes and only six interceptions. Drew has bounced around professional football. Drew signed undrafted with the Baltimore Colts and was signed, waived, resigned, and waived. Drew landed with the Colts and did back up a game for the Colts. Drew then saw playing time with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL and won a Championship. Drew had a cup of coffee with the Jets and Chargers. Drew is getting headlines this year pushing injured starter Darian Durante. Drew has come into games due to injuries and has moved the ball. Drew's first start last week against Montreal in a loss was just average. Looks like starter Durant may be back from injuries but the fan base is leaning towards Willy. Let's hope that Drew catches fire and has a great career.
Next is one of the Bull's all-time greatest linemen, Jamey Richard. The 27-year old Richard is 6-foot-5, 295 pounds, and was originally a 7th round pick of the Colts in 2008. Richard signed in the off season with the New England Patriots and has New England roots: he was born in Weston, Conn. and played at Weston High. Jamey Richard was pressed into action right away with an injury to Jeff Saturday with the Colts. Jamey did very well and was named to PFW's All-Rookie team for his role on the interior offensive line for the Colts. He was placed on injured reserve on August 2 after suffering a concussion during training camp. Get Healthy Jamey
Next is Jamey's teammate, Trevor Scott. Trevor was a 6th round pick (169th overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft. Trevor's break out game was his two first sacks when he brought down Brett Favre. That performance earned him a nomination for the NFL Rookie of the Week award, but the award was given to Chris Johnson. Scott finished the 2008 season with 24 tackles, a forced fumble, and tied two others for the most sacks by a rookie with 5.0. Injuries also caught up with Trevor due to an injured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, ending his season after 10 games, 22 tackles, and 1.5 sacks. He played in all 16 games the following season. Trevor signed the past off season with the New England Patriots. So far, Trevor is credited with 1 tackle.
A great surprise story is Wide Receiver Ernest Jackson. Jackson has taken a very strange trip to Professional Football. Ernest was a scab player for Erie Explosion of the Ultimate Indoor Football League. Ernest earned a spot when the owner stopped paying the original players. Ernest did catch a TD in the 138 - 0 beat down of the Fayetteville Force. Ernest had a quick stop with the Chicago Slaughter of the IFL. Now Ernest has joined a favorite to win it all in the CFL.
Here is a great video of Ernest's first CFL TD reception (not his first TD, that was a rush):
Ernest's best game for the Bulls was against Missouri sparking the team with a kickoff return for a TD and then hauling in a 32 and 6 yard TD receptions that had UB down just 6 points 43 minutes into the game. A couple of tough knocks for Ernest. His freshmen year, The Coach Who Will Not Be Mentioned Before Gill, used Ernest for one play burning his red shirt and missing out and what would have been an amazing tandem of Naaman Roosevelt, Brett Hamlin, and Ernest. The second tough break was an injury to the top of his foot late in his senior season. Ernst had a great camp with the Patriots but uncomfortable with his injury declined to offer a contract. Jackson, 25-year-old, from Rochester, N.Y has great speed and stands 6'2" and 220 pounds. Ernest is becoming the go to receiver. Have a great season.
One of quietest Bull to ever reach the NFL was also one of the quietest players for the Bulls. A very humble player was Josh Thomas. Josh never received the limelight behind Mike Newton or Davonte Shannon but was one of the best athletes UB ever had in the secondary. A star on the track for UB, Josh was also a shutdown corner for the Bulls. Josh did not get the attention because QB’s tried to never throw towards Josh. Selected in the fifth round (143rd overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft by Dallas, Josh was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers. So far Josh is credited with one tackle in the win over New Orleans.
UB had a couple of casualties this year. UB's all-time pass catcher Naaman Roosevelt went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft. On April 24, Roosevelt signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills. Roosevelt was cut by the Bills on final cuts on September 4, 2010 but signed to their practice squad on September 5, 2010. On November 27, 2010, Roosevelt was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster. On October 16, 2011, Roosevelt caught his first pro TD pass on a 60 yard catch-and-run at MetLife Stadium against the Giants. On August 31, 2012, at the final cut, he was cut from the Buffalo Bills. Many of us believed that Naaman would be picked up by some team like the Patriots or Giants or brought back by the Bills due to injuries. So far that has not happened. Hoping to see Naaman back in the NFL.
The other casualty is Mike Newton. Newton was originally signed by the Colts as an undrafted free agent on April 30, 2010. He competed in 12 games on special teams and as a reserve defensive back. Newton finished the season with six special teams tackles and contributed with one fumble recovery against Cincinnati. He missed the 2011 campaign and was placed on the Colts’ waived/injured list on August 28 and given an injury settlement. Mike was resigned earlier this year but did not survive the final cut. Mike will be a legend forever in Buffalo. Mike is a nasty safety that can cover, hit, and stuff the run. Mike will be remembered for flipping Nate Davis up in the air and getting stuck while trying to soar into the end zone with Ball State already up 3 with 4:00 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter in the MAC Championship. The ball popped out and Mike ran back the fumble 94 yards. Watch the highlight video below of that game and watch #30 especially end the night for one Ball State WR.