The top Buffalo football players you need to know for the 2016 season.
1. OT John Kling, Sr.
The 6-8, 320-pound All-MAC blocker has a huge frame that’s impossible to get around, doing a great job as an anchor at left tackle with the ability to play either side without a problem. He might not have the best feet, and he doesn’t dominate consistently against the run, but he’s a talented veteran who’ll get a look in an NFL camp next year on size alone. He’s the leader and top blocker for an experienced line with everyone coming back – he’s going to be the anchor of the attack.
2. RB Jordan Johnson, Sr.
Anthone Taylor was the team’s leading rusher and the star of the offense, but when he got his chances, Johnson was terrific running for 811 yards and 12 touchdowns. Big enough to be a 6-0, 220-pound power runner, quick enough to be a kickoff returner averaging over 21 yards per try, and with promising hands, he could become a do-it-all factor for the backfield. Steady throughout the year – especially over the second half of the season around the goal line – he did his best work in back-to-back games against Ohio and Miami University running for 147 and two scores against the Bobcats, and 123 yards and two touchdowns against the RedHawks. Now that the running game is his, he could become one of the MAC’s breakout stars.
3. LB Brandon Berry, Sr.
The 6-0, 215-pounder from Detroit is a bit light and a bit like a safety in terms of size, but he moves well and he hits like a ton of bricks on the outside. Now it depends on what the team wants him to do, with the speed to get into the backfield more and the experience to be the leader of a veteran front seven. It’s not like he came from out of nowhere, but after making nine tackles as a sophomore, he cranked up 103 stops with a pick, a sack, and 11.5 tackles for loss coming up with double-digit stops in five straight games making 58 tackles over the stretch. He can play inside or out, but he’ll be at his best roaming free on the outside.
4. CB Boise Ross, Sr.
A natural defender after starting out his career at receiver, he’s about to blow up as a big-time MAC talent. A good-sized corner who can hit, the 6-0, 185-pound Ross came up with two picks – taking one for a touchdown against Florida Atlantic – to go along with 47 tackles on the year. The all-star was great at locking down one side, coming up with a whopping 18 broken up passes to go along with his ability against the run. While he’s not going to bring the lumber, he’s effective.
5. QB Grant Rohach, Jr.
The 6-2, 220-pound former Iowa State Cyclone looked like a keeper as a freshman, stepping in and throwing for 1,208 yards and eight touchdowns while showing off a little mobility. He wasn’t awful in his limited time as a sophomore, but he was passed by last season with other quarterbacks getting more of a shot. Now he’s getting a fresh chance at Buffalo with the talent and ability to become a star right away for the attack. The California native has the tools, and he has the running ability, and now he needs to take the job. He wouldn’t have transferred to Buffalo if he wasn’t close to being a sure-thing as the No. 1 man.
6. S Ryan Williamson, Jr.
A factor and producer from the start as a true freshman – he was a good part of the rotation – last year he took over a safety spot finishing fourth on the team with 83 tackles with two picks and an interception for a score against Ohio. While he was good all season long, he roared at the end with 16 tackles against Northern Illinois and ten against UMass – but he’s not built to take a pounding. Only 185 pounds, he’s not small, but he’s like a corner playing safety. With elite athleticism and leaping ability, he should grow into even more of a producer now that he knows what he’s doing.
7. WR Collin Lisa, Jr.
With some of the top receivers gone, it’ll be up to Lisa to take over and become the main man for the passing attack. A quick 5-10, 180-pound target, he caught 31 passes for 325 yards and two scores and spend a little time as a punt returner. The former UAB Blazer has found a home, and while he might not be an explosive deep threat, he should be the go-to guy.
8. S Andrews Dadeboe, Jr.
One of the team’s bigger defensive backs, the 6-1, 205-pound Dadeboe can hit, and he can move, too, turning into a rising playmaker for the Bulls. While he only made 36 tackles, he came up with a pick six against Central Michigan and turned into a steady hitter in the open field. He’ll be counted on more this year to be one of the statistical stars of the defensive back seven.