UB quarterback Joe Freedy has 25 consecutive starts for the Bulls, and is about to make it 26 against Central Michigan this Saturday. He earned number 26 by turning in an all-star performance against UConn last weekend.
The veteran quarterback said he was raised in a close family, and credits his older brothers for inspiring him to tackle the challenges of the gridiron.
"They are kind of the whole reason I'm into football and playing sports. That's how I was brought up," Freedy said. "They were playing football, so I wanted to play football. If they loved it, I wanted to do it. And they were very supportive the whole time."
The 22-year-old Freedy is mature well beyond his years after coping with the death of his older brother. Out of the tragedy, however, came pride in his family and his upbringing. He went nowhere near the football field when asked about his proudest moments.
"I had a brother David who died of cancer. During the funeral mass there were just so many people, there was such an atmosphere of love," Freedy reflected. "I was just so proud of my family and my brother David, just how I was raised and everything that I was raised up with.
"My niece is turning two at the end of this month, and when she was born I went back. I think when I held my niece for the first time, that was one of my proudest moments also."
Freedy hails from Bethel Park, Pa., a suburb of Pittsburgh and football town.
"On Friday nights you come in to Western Pennsylvania and you're not going to see anybody on the road, its gonna be all football. It's packed; it was a big deal.
"I've been to some high school games up here. I love going out in the community and seeing games like that. I'm a Sweet Home [High School] fan."
His religious upbringing is one of the factors Freedy cited as most influential in the person he is today.
"I like reading a lot, and to tell you the truth I spend a lot of time at church. I'm a religious person. God is number one in my life. I love that I'm going to do whatever he has planned for the rest of my life."
Freedy said he prayed to attend UB after his recruitment visit.
"I came here because I love the location of it. It's 15 minutes from Niagara Falls, about three and half, four hours from home; it was about a good distance for me. I liked where it was in location to the city. I loved the feeling I got from the campus, how it was spread out and that it was a big huge school. I felt this was the place for me. Thank God it worked out great."
Freedy says the football team is like a family, and he spends most of his free time with his teammates.
"I hang out with a lot of guys from the team. Me and Chris Shelly have lived together for four years now. ... It's just such a close-knit team. I could go to 30 different houses and hang out, that's just the way it is."
Freedy developed a strong relationship with his predecessor, Chad Salisbury, who is now the starting quarterback for the Arena Football League's Toronto Phantoms.
"I just saw something about me passing him - I'll have to cut that out and send it to him," said Freedy.
Despite his friend's success in arena football - Salisbury guided the Phantoms to a first round playoff victory last season - Freedy doesn't see himself playing football after this season.
"I think I'm done with football after college. I'm not really sure what my plans are. That's one of the reasons that I'm in church: there's a lot of things I need answered."
"Its funny the mentality that we have. You know, you're going to college to play football, the next step is the NFL or one of the other leagues. I've been a football player for so long, and that's been my identity for so long, I think its time to move on."
Freedy will etch his name in the record books at UB in several different categories, but isn't much concerned with his personal accomplishments.
"[The starting streak] doesn't really mean much at all to me. You're only as good as your last game or your last practice. I've been blessed that I've been able to start for so many games."
Freedy described the QB position with the old adage of "Ninety percent mental, and 10 percent physical."
"At this level, so much of it is mental. When you get to this level most of the guys are good players, everybody is pretty much a good athlete. It's all mental - it's the most important thing."
"People are flying around. It's just an incredibly quick, intense, split-second decision making."
Surprisingly, the blind side hit, the most dangerous hit in football, doesn't scare Freedy.
"The blindside hits are the easier ones to take than the ones where you see them coming. The ones you see them coming you know its going to hurt, the blindside just kind of happens and before you know it happens its over."