I started my first day of work for the Bulls a decade ago. Nothing like the first day of practice, everyone is back and happy to see each other, everyone looks thin and speedy because they're in shorts and helmets... Except for the guys who aren't in shape, who are put through extra conditioning drills.
Outside in the August sun is hard, but it's the best. The team bonds without distractions, everyone is hopeful for the season at hand, everyone is smiling.
One thing jumped out at me, via Jon Fuller:
One jersey number change for this season. Anthone Taylor will be wearing 1 instead of 14. #UBBulls— Jon Fuller (@UBJonFuller) August 4, 2014
Hopefully Taylor avoids what I have dubbed the Curse of #1.
During the Hofher years, no one ever wore the #1 jersey, something about no one player being above the team. That tradition was thrown out of the window for Darius Willis the most highly touted recruit in UB history. Willis requested the #1 jersey, and Turner Gill, always closing, gave it to him.
The Willis tenure at Buffalo included 3 games played, 10 tackles, 1 sack and a season-ending injury. Willis then transferred to Kansas to play with Turner Gill.
Without Willis, the #1 jersey was vacant, but not for long. Another highly touted recruit, James Potts, became #1. Potts sat on the bench for two years while Branden Oliver surpassed him as the unquestioned top back in Buffalo. Potts then takes his second career rushing attempt, 49-yards for a fantastic touchdown score but then... you guessed it, a season-ending injury.
Two players over the course of four years, both brought to Buffalo to take UB to the next level, both failing to do that, both wore #1. I'm not one for silly superstitions, but should we lock that jersey back in the Equipment Room and never let it see the light of day again? After that freak injury, I say yes.
The best number change in my time at UB was Ollice Ervin who changed from 39 to 6. When asked why, he said frankly: "That 39 was ugly." He also taped over his "Ervin" nameplate, and wrote in "Seis" because this was 2006 and Chad Johnson was a thing in America.
I also wonder about the relationship between Taylor and Potts. Did Taylor try to get Potts to switch? How long did he wait after Potts left to request the number? Did he ask permission? Do friends' ex-numbers get the same rules as friends' ex-girlfriends? This is why we need football anthropologists.