One of the unknowns with the inauguration of Lance Leipold was his ability to recruit at the Division-I level after spending his head coaching career at D-III. Perhaps the smartest thing Leipold has done so far is the hiring of Rob Ianello, one of the premier recruiters in all of college football.
Head coaching didn't work out too well (1-15 at Akron over two seasons), but recruiting is a different story for Ianello. There has been a strong emphasis on recruiting New York State. UB even had the most NY recruits out of all NY universities with seven in 2015. Alan Hensell has also played a strong role in recruiting and is currently serving as the tight ends coach. Hensell previously served as a wide receivers coach at UWW under Leipold. Even though Leipold was thrust into position during an unfavorable time for recruiting, he was able to maintain Jeff Quinn's existing recruits, and put together a respectable class. It appears as if the Bulls have a lot of steam going into 2016 recruiting, and here are the examples:
*Click on each name for a link to view their Hudl highlight reels.
Roy Baker: CB, Hialeah, FL (American)
The UB coaching staff reached down into Florida and plucked out a nice cornerback in Roy Baker. His only other offer was from NC State, but to his defense, that's a pretty good "only" offer to have. At 6-2, 170, he has very good size for a corner, but expect him to bulk up during his first year on campus. Watching his highlight tape, you can tell that there is some refining that needs to be done in terms of coverage, but the potential is there. He also played significant time on special teams, and has shown to be a reliable tackler. Looking at the depth chart, I don't expect to see Baker on the field outside of the scout team his first year, if he does not redshirt. Cornerback is not the Bulls' deepest position on the field, however, 50% of the cornerbacks on the current roster are either freshmen or redshirt freshmen, and the only graduating senior is Marqus Baker. With steep competition, it will be hard for Baker to get significant playing time early in his career at UB.
Max Bortenschlager: QB, Indianapolis, IN (Cathedral)
Max is a 6-3, 185, pro-style quarterback hailing from the midwest. His offer list included Ball State, Colgate, Eastern Michigan, and Western Illinois. While his offer list may not blow anyone away, he did receive interest from P5 schools including Vandy, Minnesota, Indiana, Virginia, and Purdue. A 3 star on 247 with a composite score of 0.8115 ranks him 74th in pro-style quarterbacks.
As a junior, Bortenschlager threw for 2,270 yards and 21 touchdowns while leading his team to win the state championship last year. Max fits into the Buffalo scheme well as a drop back passer with bootleg passing capability. He won't tear up the field with speed, but expect him to stretch the field laterally to provide more options for his receivers. A pocket-passer by nature, he also has elusiveness to avoid collapsing pockets. A couple years down the line it will be interesting to see the competition between Bortenschlager and current freshman Tyree Jackson.
Jake Fuzak: DE, Williamsville, NY (Will South)
Keeping the UB-Will South connection alive, Jake Fuzak's family will have to take the short trip down the 290 to see him suit up in Amherst. Fuzak is a 6-4, 265, defensive lineman and will add class balance to the UB roster. He received offers from UCONN and Old Dominion. Fuzak spent a lot of time in the 3-4 scheme at Will South, so his transition to Brian Borland's 4-3 may take some time getting used to. He was primarily a run-stopper, but also has a high football IQ in many situations. I would suspect that the staff would move him to defensive tackle to stuff the run in the middle as opposed to rushing from the outside.
Jonathan Lee: RB, Upper Marlboro, MD (Riverdale Baptist)
Jonathan Lee is one of the prized recruits of this upcoming year's class. He received offers from Army, Navy, Akron and Air Force, and saw interest from ECU, Kentucky, and Penn State. A 5-11, 190 back, Lee fits the mold of running backs that Matt Simon and the coaching staff love to recruit. He is an all-purpose back that can muscle through the line, but has finesse around the edges. He is rated as a 0.8410 composite on 247, ranking him the 67th running back in his class.
Watching his highlight tape, there is a good variety of long runs, eluding tacklers in space, and breaking multiple tackles through the middle. They also utilized Lee in the screen pass game with some success. Long story short, if you give him space, he will make the defense pay. I assume he will be competing with Jonathan Hawkins and possibly Emmanuel Reed (depending on how the coaching staff decides to use him; hopefully he will not end up like Devin Campbell under Jeff Quinn's system). With the addition of Lee, UB looks to maintain a strong running game through the next four years.
Hosea McMullen: OLB, Miami, FL (American)
Hosea comes to Buffalo from the same high school as teammate Roy Baker. He committed to Buffalo in late May after receiving an offer from Syracuse only a couple days earlier. He also received an offers from Temple and several FCS schools, but had interest from many P5 schools as well. I really like this kid, and I think he will do some really great things here. He has pretty good speed and agility, but also has some stopping power when throwing down the hit-stick. What impressed me the most was his ability to read plays and ignite chaos. He is very patient and fills the running holes at just the right time. One area that I would like to see more of him would be in pass coverage, I just haven't seen enough to justify one way or the other. UB currently has 15 linebackers on their roster, and only 4 are graduating. I don't expect to see McMullen during his freshman season, but he should be able to fight for playing time during his sophomore year.
Justin Mulbah: S, Laurel, MD (St. Vincent Palotti)
Justin received 3 other offers including Army, Kent, and EMU. His 247 page rates him as a 3 star, and he comes in at 6-0, 200. He is a very athletic kid and I see two major strengths in his game. 1) He wraps up tackles very well, and is able to tackle in space effectively and 2) he reduces space in pursuit well. Mulbah was also used as a running back during high school, but with UB's depth at RB, it is very unlikely the coaching staff has any intentions of using him for that skill position. He played up in the box extensively which set up some Adam Redden-esque corner rush plays that we have come to know well over the past couple of years. I would not be surprised if he puts on some pounds and becomes an outside linebacker. Under Lou Tepper's scheme, I could definitely see this happening. We will have to see how Brian Borland prefers to use his linebackers, although some safeties have already been converted to linebackers.
Jordan Overton: ATH, Cleveland, OH (Brush)
Definitely one of the most exciting additions to this class has to be this young man. Jordan Overton, listed as a 3-star on 247, has had the most interest on a national scale out of the group. With offers from nearly every MAC school and interest from many P5 schools, it is exciting to see him end up at UB, especially being from Ohio, where other MAC schools usually have a recruiting edge.
Jordan was primarily used as a wide-receiver during his junior season, but would also serve as a return man on special teams. Speed and agility are his two most dangerous weapons, and when he is in open space, there isn't much that can stop him. He is also elusive and seems to break tackles without much effort and having his size as a disadvantage as he is only 5-10, 171. On his preseason tape, he looked to be utilized on both sides of the football this upcoming season as a wide receiver and also a cornerback. By being recruited as an athlete, it has me wondering what the plans are for his role. I can see him returning for special teams and would think that offense would be his best fit. However, you never know when you will have a Boise Ross situation, and they need to change their plans accordingly. Expect big things from Mr. Overton during his stay in Western New York.
Tyreek Williams: LB, Sicklerville, NJ (Timber Creek)
The newest addition to the 2016 class, a 3-star prospect that gathered offers from Temple, Navy, Army (do they offer everyone?), a couple of FCS schools, and received interest from Syracuse, Boston College, and Iowa. He enters as one of the highest rated recruits of this class. Throughout most of his highlight tape, he is lined up on the defensive line. He does well and is able to penetrate effectively, however his size will be a determinant factor if he is to continue this at the next level. At 6-1, 205, he would be undersized to be utilized as a defensive end, and would be much more effective as an inside linebacker. There would not be a learning curve and he has a knack for stopping rushers before they have a chance to see open field. The linebacker starting position competition will be very interesting next year and the year after. #KhalilMackEffect
The Bulls are currently ranked 7th out of 13th in recruiting for the 2016 class, despite having only 7 recruits (the 4th least in the MAC ahead of Kent, UMASS, and Akron. According to 247 ratings, UB has five 3-star recruits, putting them fourth behind WMU, Miami, and Toledo. If Leipold and his staff are able to press on, and maintain the success they have been having so far, the 2016 class will be one of the most well-regarded classes to date.