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Looking Forward to the season: Kick Returners

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NCAA Football: Buffalo at Northern Illinois Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

In the almost ten years since Bull Run was launched we’ve seen a lot of great team units. But aside from a few highlight moments the returning unit has not been among them.

The last really consistent returner I remember watching was Ernest Jackson and he’s been gone longer than this site has existed.

What I have seen over the years is a lot of turnovers and poor returns which set up terrible field position. Our last kick return for a touchdown was in 2013, and our last punt return for a touchdown was against an FCS squad in 2015.

Devin Campbell was a decent return guy under Quinn in 2013-2014 but the last punt returner to crack UB’s top 10 season average was Naamen Roosevelt back in 2006.

All this is to say that through three different coaches (Gill, Quinn, Leipold) UB has never produced a return unit which put fear into opposing teams. The talent has been there, but it’s never come together like it should have.

So what about this year?

With Jacob “J-Mart” Martinez graduating it looks like the defacto returner might be K.J. Osborn, who took the role over last season.

Osborn did not put in enough reps to break into UB’s record books last sesaon but what he did looks very promising.

A punt return average of 10.3 yards (8 returns) would have been 6th all time at UB, nipping at the heels of Andre Ford. His kickoff return average of 19.4 yards is out of the schools top 10, but only by few yards, he could easily increase that if the unit is properly coached this season.

Like a lot of schools UB does not have a dedicated special teams coach because of the NCAA restrictions on the number of coaches a program can have.

It’s up to coaches Roc Bellantoni and Taiwo Onatolu, who share ownership of the special teams, to get the most out of the unit this season. In Osborn they might just have a weapon, hopefully they will be able to get the most of of him.