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Senior Salute - Branden Oliver

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Buzz before he arrived: Not much, in the wake of James Starks, there were many backs in the stable to replace BO. Many were not happy with his prominent role in 2010. Losing Fluellen, the prospect of Starks' brother and heralded recruit James Potts put more scrutiny on BO. By the end of 2011, BO responded with one of the greatest seasons in UB history.

His Journey: Burried behind the likes of Lamar Miller and Jaamal Berry in Miami's deep talent pool, undersized Branden Oliver was not a flashy recruit. In the MAC, personal desire and player develop can go a long way, and BO is one of many recent UBers to prove it's not where you're from, its how hard you'll work when you get here. BO started slow in 2010, but as his training allowed him to improve his size and vision, he exploded on to the scene in 2011. Injuries slowed him 2012, although he showed flashes of brilliance when he was healthy. In 2013, BO has proven to be the motor that runs the UB offense, and fortunately for UB, he never runs out of gas. He will join UB athletes who overcame Rivals "rankings" to star in college and get a chance at the pros like Steven Means, Josh Thomas, Trevor Scott, Naaman Roosevelt and James Starks.

Debut Performance: As a true freshman, BO received the start in his first game ahead of Brandon Thermilus, Ike Nduka and Jeffvon Gill. BO underwhelmed, gaining 26 yards on 9 carries and fumbling.

Breakout Performance: In 2011, behind BO, Buffalo shocked the Ohio Bobcats with a 38-37 win. BO did it all, carried the load with 39 total touches, 179 yards rushing and 43 receiving. He scored 3 TDs and exploded for a big 58 yard run in the 1st half.

Senior Moment: #Olivering after touchdowns, especially during the gritty double-record breaking performance against UMass.


Future: Small backs like Maurice Jones-Drew and Doug Martin have found success in the NFL and unheralded/undrafted running backs have been successful as well. I could see BOdrafted in the late rounds or signing with a team on the first day after the draft. Either way, he'll be a real steal for a team.

28 BO stats:

#1 - Running back in UB history with 3,889 yards and counting. Oliver broke the record set by James Starks in 2008.

#2 - Nationally in Attempts in 2013 with 264, #6 in yards with 1,375, and #8 in Rushing TDs with 14.

#3 - 36.5% of all running yards by UB running backs between 2001 and 2013 were gained by James Starks (16.3%) and Branden Oliver (20.2%)

#4 - 40.2% of UB's offense in 2011 was earned by BO. The previous high was set by James Starks in 2007, who accounted for 33.9% of UB's total offense.

#5 - Times since 2001, a UB back has had 50% of UB's carries, 50% of UB's rushing yards and 50% of UB's rushing TDs.

  1. Aaron Leeper 2002 - 61.5% of Carries, 77.7% of Run Yards and 76.9% of Run TDs
  2. James Starks 2007 - 58.8%, 70.7%, 66.7%
  3. James Starks 2008 - 56%, 71.7%, 59.3%
  4. Branden Oliver 2011 - 70.2%, 75%, 61.9%
  5. Branden Oliver 2013 - 55.5%, 67.1%, 70%

#6 - BO's place in career yards per carry. BO doesn't have all the records, with 4.74 yards per carry, he trails the great Willie Evans (6.36), Dave Dawson, John Hartman, Ike Nduka and Dane Hightower.

#7 - Number of games BO missed in his career.

#8 - 820 Rushing Attempts, breaking Anthony Swan's 16-year old UB record (812).

#9 - 9-3, UB's record the last two years when BO scores a Touchdown.

#10 - 10-1, UB's record when BO runs for 128+ yards

#11 - Althogh Starks was the better receiver, BO has the highest single season receiving yards by a running back since 2001. In 2011, BO had 365 receiving yards, besting Starks' 361 from 2008.

#12  - BO's 820 carries are 39 less than the following runners combined (between 2001 and 2013):

  1. Jeffvon Gill
  2. Derrick Gordon
  3. Albert Grundy
  4. Rashad Jean
  5. Chris McDuffie
  6. Brandon Murie
  7. Ike Nduka
  8. James Potts
  9. Lawrence Rolle
  10. Chris Scharon
  11. Anthone Taylor
  12. Phillip Warren

#13 - Number of games BO was held under 55 yards. 9 of those games came his Freshman year.

#14 - Rushing Touchdowns, already a career best, BO is 2 TDs from tying Lee Jones (1966) and James Starks (2008) record for Rushing TDs in a season.

#15 - The lowest number of attempts in a BO 100 yard game. 15 caries for 126 yards against Stony Brook in 2011

#16 - 4x4: BO set a career high and became the 4th UB back to run for 4 touchdowns in a game, joining Lou Corriere, Anthony Swan and Pat Whitehead when BO notched 4 TDs vs Kent State this year.

#17 - UB is 415 yards away from breaking the team rushing yards in a single season record set in 1998.

#18 - BO's rookie season he only rushed for 298 yards, which is still better than the season had by 32 other UB backs between 2001 and 2013. His injury marred 2012 season is still the 6th best season by a running back during that period.

#19 - 100 yard games, including 7 in a row this season. With a Bowl game or a Conference Championship game, BO has the chance to best his own record of 8 100-yard games in a single season.

#20 - 200 plus club. BO knocked his 199 yard rushing day vs Miami OH out of the leaderboard with two more 200+ yard rushing outputs. From now on you have to run for more than 201 yards to make the UB top 10 in single season rushing games.

#21 - BO has rushed for 200 plus 4 times, no other UB back had done it more than twice, BO did it twice in back to back seasons.

#22 - Or 2-2, since 2001, only two backs have run for 1,000 yards, and each accomplished that feat twice. James Starks ran for 1,333 in 2008 and 1,103 in 2007. BO now has the two best seasons in UB history running for 1,395 in 2011 and 1,375 to date in 2013.

#23 - BO will turn 23 the day before the 2014 NFL draft, I think he'll get a very special gift this year.

#24 - Rank among draft eligible running backs according to

#25 - 254 yards/game, If UB plays 2 more games, BO could become the first back between 2001 and 2013 to gain 2000 yards rushing and receiving. He is already #1 on the list with 1,760 yards of offense in 2011.

#26 - BO has never scored a receiving touchdown.

#27 - BO 32 - Swan 5 = 27. BO joins Swan as the only two UB backs to lead the school in rushing for 4 years. Swan led UB in rushing yards between '94 and '97 while BO has led between '10 and '13.

#28 - These big backs had 28 more carries than BO has at 820, combined:

  1. Marquis Dwarte - 154 carries (2001-02)
  2. Mario Henry - 174 career carries
  3. Jared Patterson - 246 career carries
  4. Brandon Thermilus - 274 career carries