Outside of the running backs, the other skill positions on the offensive side of the ball, the wide receivers and the tight ends are among the deepest groups on the UB Football squad. Senior quarterback Joe Licata will benefit from returning several of his top receivers along with welcoming in several new faces that will look to contribute immediately. Outside of just pure depth, the number of guys that are capable of contributing give offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki extreme flexibility when game planning. He has the ability to put burners in at receiver to take the tops off of defenses, while having possession receivers capable of going across the middle and up the same, with stout guys that can contribute in the run game as well.
Looking across the roster as a whole I could make a case for just about any of the guys having playing time or even starting at some point throughout the season, the skill positions are that deep. The term "embarrassment of riches" comes to mind.
These projected starters are under the assumption that Leipold will start 3 wide receivers and 1 tight end. I realize that the math may not add up when considering the other positions, but, he may change how many starters are at each position from game to game so please bear that in mind.
WR - Ron Willoughby, Sr., 6-4, 202 - After only registering 3 receptions in his sophomore season, Willoughby stepped up in a big way in the wake of the graduations of Alex Neutz and Fred Lee. The "Willoughbeast" as some have called him, was the team leader in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns, with 50, 771 and 9, respectively. Willoughby was a reliable target all season long, showing a soft pair of hands and catching just about anything that was thrown his way. Willoughby has the size to go up in the air above defensive backs and the strength and speed to break away after the catch. Willoughby will once again be Joe Licata's top target, and look for his production to increase from last season to this season.
WR - Marcus McGill, Sr., 6-1, 227 - The former freshman long snapper will look to improve upon his previous season, with a presumed increase in playing time. McGill appeared in all 11 games last season (thanks Kent), but only started 4. Perhaps his most memorable moment from last season was dropping the 1st quarter game-tying pass against Baylor in front of a packed UB Stadium. His most significant game came against Army, racking up 128 receiving yards and two touchdowns. One of which was a WR screen late in the game that he took 65 yards to the house. McGill will need a strong showing at camp and in the early season. He is considerably bulkier than all of the other receivers, however, I could see him losing reps to other options if the production is not there early on.
WR - Jacob Martinez, R-So., 6-0, 187 - Hailing from the panhandle of Florida, Jacob Martinez thrust himself into the UB receiving core in a big way, having a completion in all 11 games. Used primarily as a slot receiver for short, underneath routes, Martinez finished the season with 280 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. Perhaps his biggest strength lies in his agility, and his ability to get off of the line very quickly. Martinez beat defenders by running quick, simple routes ran efficiently. With the graduation of Devon Hughes, who played a similar role to Martinez, expect his production to increase.
TE - Matt Weiser, Sr., 6-5, 245 - Weiser is a bulky yet athletic tight end who finished the season last year with 15 catches for 286 yards and 4 touchdowns. The most memorable being the Jordan Johnson fake run-pass against Akron which cracked the Sportscenter Top Ten. Weiser and Licata have been roommates in the past, so there is definitely no chemistry lacking in the combination. Although it is hard to say this early on, I would expect Weiser to play a similar role in comparison to last year.
WR - Malcolm Robinson, R-Jr., 6-1, 197 - Just one of the Bulls to make the Sportscenter Top Ten last season with an acrobatic leaping touchdown catch, Robinson does not lack athleticism. Looking at 2015, Robinson will see more playing time and most recently he has been working with the first team in training camp, and may break into the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
WR - Jamarl Eiland, R-So., 5-10, 198 - We haven't seen all that much from Mr. Eiland. But to be fair, he hasn't had all that much opportunity. He had only 2 receptions last year totaling 59 yards. Quinn even had him return some punts during the early season. With the return of Devin Campbell and the stacked RB core, I would assume Campbell will assume this role again in 2015. Eiland will need a strong showing in camp with all of the receiving competition.
WR - Collin Lisa, So., 5-10, 180 - The man with two first names. A UAB transfer (along with defensive back, Jordan Collier), Lisa is very comparable to the style of Jacob Martinez. Aside from his time at UWW and the spring game, we have not seen Leipold's plan for UB's offense. Is there room for Lisa and Martinez on the field at the same time? My favorite part of Lisa's game is his ability to catch in traffic.
WR - Mikel DeMonte, Sr., 5-10, 170 - Mikel is a walk-on addition for the Bulls, primarily adding depth. He did not see the field at all last season, and his time will most likely be very limited in 2015. Jon Fuller did tweet earlier in the week that he had a "pair of highlight reel catches." Delmonte also had a touchdown in the spring game.
WR - JR Zazzara, R-So., 6-2, 191 - Once recruited as a quarterback, Zazzara has recently transitioned to WR. Interesting note: JR was offered a scholarship to Syracuse to play lacrosse, but turned it down to play Division I Football. Jon Fuller also noted that Zazzara has been a WR standout in the early stages of camp, which could earn him reps during the regular season.
TE - Mason Schreck, Jr., 6-4, 244 - Schreck played quarterback in high school and made the transition to Tight End when he arrived at UB. He did not have earth shattering numbers last year, finishing with just 10 catches and 108 yards. I would consider Schreck more of a blocking Tight End and it will be interesting to see if he is used more in that regard. Presumably, these two will be the only to see playing time this year.
TE - Kevin Rogers, R-Fr.., 6-3, 230 - Like Mason Schreck, Rogers played quarterback in high school and has made the transition to tight end. After redshirting in his first season at UB, Rogers will look to compete in a backup role behind Weiser and Schreck.
TE - Kyle Nagel, So., 6-1, 208 - A former walk-on who is a tad undersized for a tight end, but is a perfect size for an H-Back type role. Nagel may see time in short yardage situations and on special teams.
* Let's all take a moment of silence for Tchaikovsky Cantalicio, who is no longer on the UB roster. Now the best name is a toss up between Kyril Threats and Dwellie Striggles.
WR - KJ Osborn, Fr., 5-11, 197 - Osborn attended IMG Academy in Florida and comes to UB off a nice senior year totaling 379 receiving yards along with 7 touchdowns. I would expect him to not see any playing time this year, if he does not redshirt.
WR - Brandon Smiley, Fr., 6-1, 195 - Joining Jordan Johnson (+1 for alliteration), Brandon Smiley will be playing right down the street from his alma mater of Sweet Home. He holds the school records for receiving touchdowns (18), career receiving yards (1,148), and career catches (68). Smiley played defensive back in high school as well, demonstrating his athleticism and quickness. Smiley has displayed good hands through camp thus far, and could add even more depth if necessary.
WR - Deion Barnes, Fr., 6-1, 175 - Last but certainly not least, Barnes comes to UB from Tottenville High in Staten Island, NY. There isn't too much information available aside from his highlight videos. The biggest takeaway from my perspective is his ability to find seams in the defense and exploit them. It will be interesting to see him develop.
TE - Tyler Mabry, Fr., 6-2 244 - Mabry comes to UB from Ypsilanti, Michigan, by way of the IMG Academy where he was a teammate of fellow recruit KJ Osborn. Mabry is a big-bodied bruiser of a tight end who will likely be a blocking tight end first, contributing big time in the Bulls' running game. He may redshirt this season, but next season will be his chance to break into the lineup.
TE - Matt Seybert, Fr., 6-3, 222 - Seybert is an intriguing prospect, because he did not play during his senior year of high school due to injury, and the Bulls were able to swoop in and lock up his commitment early. After looking at his game tape from his junior year, Seybert shows everything you want in a tight end: he can catch the ball well, he's a mauler as a blocker in the run game, and he's a high character guy. He may redshirt to make sure that he's completely healed from his injuries and to bulk up, but, he has the makings to be a real steal in Lance Leipold's first recruiting class.
Be sure to stay tuned to Bull Run for more positional previews and Matt and I's Olympic Team Previews. Also, a big thank you to Drew who helped out on this post and will be helping me out the rest of the week.
Football Positional Previews:
Olympic Team Previews: