In lieu of a traditional overarching team preview in one post, I thought it best to take each position group and give Bulls fans an in-depth breakdown player-by-player with some insights on who may or may not be starting for the Bulls in Lance Leipold's inaugural season at the helm.
For our first entry we'll be taking a look at the most important position on the field: the quarterbacks.
Joe Licata, Sr., 6-2, 229 - The hometown hero, Licata will be the unquestioned starter at quarterback, bringing a wealth of experience having started 28 games over the course of his career so far in Amherst. He's also one of the most decorated quarterbacks to ever suit up for the Bulls, with over 6,500 career passing yards and 60 career touchdown passes, the latter of which is a school record.
Licata has shown excellent decision-making skills and is quite proficient in short-to-medium range throws, and he can even air it out when he needs to. Joe says that he has fully recovered from offseason hip surgery and is back to 100 percent, which will be key for a successful season. Although not named to any preseason All-MAC teams, Licata was named to the Manning Award Watch List for the nation's top quarterback.
Tony Daniel, Sr., 6-5, 208 - The Bulls' primary backup from last season, Daniel will likely be in the same role again this season. Daniel played in 5 games last season, throwing for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns. His most extensive action came in the Baylor game when he went 4 of 6 for 84 yards and a touchdown. Daniel has a big strong arm and surprising mobility for a man his size, has proven himself a competent backup and will likely be called up for cleanup duty during the season.
Collin Michael, Jr., 6-5, 226 - A highly rated recruit out of high school and the heir apparent to Joe LIcata's starting job, Michael has not seen much game action in his career, attempting only one pass. However, in the spring game Michael showed off a rocket arm, sending passes deep with minimal effort. He'll likely only see the field this season in a blowout situation, but he's a name to keep an eye on for next season.
Chris Merchant, R-Fr., 6-2, 193 - The former number 1 high school quarterback in Canada will likely spend another season developing on the sidelines before challenging for the starting position next season. Merchant showed great scrambling ability in the spring game and will be an interesting name to watch.
Craig Slowik, So., 6-4, 198 - A former walk-on, Slowik will provide depth on the scout team and will likely not see the field this season.
Tyree Jackson, Fr., 6-5, 225 - One of the gems of the first Leipold recruiting class, Jackson was actually recruited by former coach Jeff Quinn. Luckily, Leipold and company were able to convince Jackson to keep his commitment to UB after late interest from P-5 schools such as UConn and Pitt. Jackson is a physical specimen and can do just about everything from launching a bomb downfield, or taking off and scrambling. He led his school, Mona Shores, to the state championship game his senior season, and over the course of his junior and senior seasons he threw for 4,491 yards and 50 touchdowns while rushing for 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was named First team All-State in Michigan and comes to UB as a 3-star recruit. He will likely redshirt this season but compete for the starting job next year.
Stay tuned to Bull Run all this week for more football positional previews and Matt and I's Olympic team previews!
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