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Buffalo Bulls Football: Making the Leap - James O'Hagan

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Our first highlight on offense is redshirt-freshman offensive lineman James O'Hagan, who looks to replace Trevor "The Belly" Sales at center for a young Bulls offensive line.

I'll admit that going with an offensive lineman for the first entry of Making the Leap wasn't exactly the sexiest choice I could've made, but O'Hagan and the entire Bulls offensive line will be a determining factor in whether or not first-year head coach Lance Leipold has success right away.

Career Review/Why He's Here

As a true freshman, O'Hagan redshirted due to the abundance of upperclassmen offensive linemen on the roster, allowing him a year to get in the weight room to help make the transition from high school to college-level football smoother.

I put him on the list because of all the new faces on the offensive line, O'Hagan is arguably the most important because he'll be the line general calling out and adjusting protections, and he's going to be snapping the ball to senior quarterback Joe Licata too.

Obstacles

  1. Inexperience - This one's a little bit of a cop-out, but O'Hagan simply doesn't have the in-game experience that Trevor Sales had and it'll be a challenge for O'Hagan to step-in and produce at the same level that Sales had for the past three years. There will be a lot of on-the-job training for O'Hagan this year, and his ability to learn quickly and adapt will be a a key to success or failure.
  2. Chemistry with Licata - The quarterback-center exchange is something that shouldn't be taken for granted. Games can be lost due to miscues between a quarterback and his center (editor's note: NATE DAVIS HAD THE FLU); and when there's familiarity between two players, like Licata and Sales had, issues are kept to a minimum. But, with a new center in O'Hagan, both players will have to adjust and learn from each other to avoid mistakes. If O'Hagan can find a groove and work well with Joe Licata then people won't talk about him much - and for an offensive linemen, that's a good thing.

Season Expectations

Coming out of Seaford High School, O'Hagan was a top-10 wrestling recruit in the nation at the 285 pound weight class, the type of offensive line recruit that Quinn absolutely loved, and for good reason. Wrestling hones some key areas that are invaluable for offensive linemen: agility, balance, hand-fighting/positioning, aggressiveness, and most importantly, endurance. Listed at 6-2, 293 pounds, O'Hagan also has prototypical size for the center and guard positions, so there aren't any concerns there either.

If you want an idea of how good he was as a wrestler in high school, here's video of him winning a New York State championship, where you can see all the qualities I talked about above. Trust me, this stuff will translate onto the football field.

Side note: I would've loved to have seen Quinn and John Stutzman wrestle-off to see who could recruit O'Hagan.

I think with his wrestling experience and his size for the position, I think it's reasonable to expect that O'Hagan will be in the starting lineup this upcoming season at either one of the guard positions or at center. From watching him run with the first team at the Spring Game in April, he put his wrestling technique on display with a good punch at the point of attack against the first team defensive line, and looked to hold his own against older, more experienced players. If he is able to repeat what I saw then and improve on that on a week-to-week basis, while developing good chemistry with Joe Licata, I don't see why O'Hagan can't be the linchpin for the Bulls' offensive line the same way Trevor Sales was for the past three seasons.

Prediction

I can't make a statistics prediction because he's only an offensive lineman, but, what I can do is predict the amount of games that O'Hagan will start. With his background and from what I saw in the spring game, I think things are looking up:

Prediction: O'Hagan starts every game this season at either guard or center

***

One down, a lot more to go. Stay tuned this Saturday for our first defensive player primed to "Make the Leap" to be revealed.

Go Bulls!