Signing Day is the first day of hope springs eternal season. First EVERY prospect is gonna be amazing. Then EVERYONE looks awesome in the spring game. Then EVERYONE shows growth in training camp. It's not until week one until you really know what your team is made of, and sometimes with weak OOC, not until week 3, 4, or 5. This part of the offseason is stupid, long, pointless. It's a giant waste of time and I LOVE IT.
Despite my Quinn, Tepper, and Kicker bashing between 2011-2014, I'm an optimist when it comes to UB football, (which is possibly why I was so critical, I had higher hopes) and I know I'll buy into anything that shows LL Cool Coach has turned this team into a MAC winning juggernaut.
But before Matt and Tim (who are much more knowledgable on recruits than I) fill you in on all the awesome players we'll be seeing in Blue and White (and probably Black), let's look back at the five best players of every signing day between 2000 and 2013 and lets rank them cause EMBRACE DEBATE.
#14 - 2000
|Randall Secky||QB||Maple Grove||NY|
|Erik Zeppuhar||OL||Allison Park||PA|
Cirbus' last class produced two big offensive linemen, and rocks of the defense JJ Gibson and Rodney Morris. Randall Secky could never solidify himself as UB's starting QB.
#13 - 2012
A good class, but Quinn's 2012 hit more on offensive positions where UB was already strong. Campbell and Johnson are RBs behind Branden Oliver and Anthone Taylor, while Shreck has been part of a crowded TE rotation. Lou Tepper was signed the next day, had he been hired early, he may have been able to sign more players to make his defense work at UB.
#12 - 2013
|Jarrett Franklin||LB||St. Charles||MO|
|Jake Martinez||WR||South Port||FL|
This list has 22 players from New York State, this is one of two years where the top 5 has no NY natives. Quinn's penultimate class could go down as one of the greatest as each player has shown flashes of greatness.
#11 - 2010
|Cobly Way||OLB||State College||PA|
Quinn's first class solidified both lines with Davis and Carlson on offense and Way as the force in the middle of the defense.
#10 - 2004
|Jeff Niedermier||OL||New Washington||OH|
Imes gets on the list as the DB who intercepted Temple in OT to set up the Starks game winner. Scharon king of the Spider Y Banana and the most dedicated punter in UB history.
#9 - 2006
|Jordan Jerrold||OT||Fairless Hills||PA|
Gill's first class solidified the lines but also grabbed local product Naaman Roosevelt who later became the best WR in UB history.
#8 - 2002
Hoofer adds UB's first viable NFL candidates: Chad Upshaw and Ramon Guzman.
#7 - 2001
|David Dawson||RB||Camp Hill||PA|
|Gemera Williams||RB||Oak Park||MI|
|Rob Schroeder||OL||East Rochester||NY|
Hofher's first and second class show a basic problem, good players, but too much depth not enough breadth. Hofher inherited Randall Secky, brought in PJ Piskorik but could never decide which was his QB. He also had five viable running backs between Patterson, King, Leeper, Dawson and McDuffie. Gemara Williams was the first of many Bulls to spend some time on the New England Patriots and Aaron Leeper was the MAC Freshman of the Year, one of only two Bulls to earn a MAC individual award.
#6 - 2007
|Joshua Thomas||CB||Cedar Hill||TX|
The greatest tackling safety in UB history Shannon, NFLer Josh Thomas, solid WRs Jackson and Rivers and key CB for the championship year Domonic Cook. Gill inherited a lot of talent, but he helped himself in 2007 by plugging holes quickly.
#5 - 2008
|Gokhan Ozkan||QB||Staten Island||NY|
|Scott Pettigrew||LB||Thompson's Station||TN|
After a then best ever 5-7 season Gill put in work signing Zach Maynard. Had Maynard stayed at Buffalo it would have moved higher on this list. Still, Ozkan, Means and Moseley all got looks at the NFL after their UB careers.
#4 - 2011
|Patrick Clarke||K||New Castle||DE|
|Ron Willoughby||WR||Avon Lake||OH|
|Anthone Taylor||RB||Huber Heights||OH|
It's their team now, a slightly disappointing 6-6 (let's just start calling it a 6-6 year cause it would have been a W) season saw Licata, Taylor and Willoughby explode into the scene as the next great UB trio.
#3 - 2003
|Kareem Byrom||DB||New Brusnwick||NJ|
Terrance Breaux could have been the greatest of all time had he had a Quarterback to work with. Richard and Scott both went to the NFL and Andrae Smith was around in 2008, due to a medical redshirt, and he played a key role in UB's championship.
#2 - 2009
|Alex Neutz||WR||Grand Island||NY|
|Khalil Mack||LB||Fort Pierce||FL|
Gill's goodbye gift to UB, BO, Neutz, Mack, and Lee led UB to a 8-5 season. Brandon Oliver was a sensation in San Diego and Khalil Mack was drafted #5 overall and finished 3rd in defensive rookie of the year voting. This was a great class but they weren't the best...
#1 - 2005
|James Starks||QB||Niagara Falls||NY|
The greatest QB in history, two high volume wide receivers, the greatest cover safety in UB history Newton and James Starks, perhaps the most explosive offensive athlete UB has had in decades. Recruited by Hofher in his final year, this class was developed by Gill and brought UB a MAC Championship in 2008.
Swan songs: #1 and #2 were classes in a coach's final year, does this mean last year's 2014 class will be one of the best?
Great States: NY (22) - OH (11) - FL (8) - PA (8) were the most represented state on this list. Will Leipold tap into Florida? Will he dominate in the MAC zone? Will he bring in a diamond in the rough from the Empire State?
Trenches: First year coaches at UB have focused on the offensive and defensive lines during their first signing days. Will Leipold bring in some Hog Mollys from Wisconsin?