The brains of the operation

Way thrives with challenging classroom workload, demands of Division I football

The Spectrum

When Western Michigan's offense planned to take on the Bulls' defense last weekend, it was clear the Broncos were ready for senior linebacker Khalil Mack. Two or three offensive linemen consistently blocked Mack in an attempt to stymie the star's production.

Western Michigan apparently forgot about the star on the other side: senior defensive end Colby Way.

Way sacked quarterback Zach Terrell three times during the Bulls' 33-0 rout of Western Michigan. Way's performance earned him Mid-American Conference East Defensive Player of the Week honors. It was the second time he received the award.

"It's always great to be honored with an award like that," Way said. "But it really should have went to our whole defense because without them, I wouldn't have had the opportunities that I did to make those plays."

Way is a native of State College, Pa.- the town where Penn State is located - and had an offer from former Penn State head coach Joe Paterno. He chose to come to Buffalo instead.

In an interview with The Buffalo News over the summer, Way cited Buffalo's atmosphere as the main reason he chose to leave his home state. He said when he visited UB, no one told him to avoid players because he'd be competing for their spots. Instead, everyone wanted to meet Way and help him better himself and his football career.

Now, as a senior, he has become a defensive stalwart in the same atmosphere he admired so much.

This past summer, Phil Steele named Way a first-team All-MAC player. And with his three sacks last Saturday, Way has the ninth most sacks in a career at UB.

In the last four seasons, Way has been a steady force for the Bulls. And what he's done off the field has been equally impressive.

Way is a computer engineering major - a demanding field for any student and particularly for a student-athlete. Way has a 3.5 GPA.

In the last two seasons, Way has been named to the All-MAC Academic team, and as with his football performance, he doesn't credit himself.

"The academic support and the people across the street [in Alumni Arena] definitely help a lot," Way said. "Any time you need a tutor, they're always there and they help you with academic planning to make sure that you're managing your time correctly."

His schedule this semester is grueling. Way is up by 8 a.m. every morning; after his classes, film sessions, team lifts and practice, he is home at 6 p.m. to eat dinner and finish homework before he goes to bed and does it all again.

Professors recommend three hours out of the classroom for every hour in the classroom to be successful. Way said he has recently spent nights staying up until 4 a.m. to finish projects that he has been given as little as two weeks to complete.

In one of Way's recent projects, he built a program that generated a server and clients that communicated using ports in a networking class. He was required to use C, a programming language he had never used before, but he learned it during the process.

His football schedule also makes it difficult to schedule group work at times, because the only time he is free is later in the day when some students are no longer on campus.

But this is Way's fourth year balancing a time-consuming course load with football, and he has proven he is capable of handling it.

This season, Buffalo's defense as a whole has proven it is capable of dominance.

The Bulls have had three consecutive losing seasons and now, with Buffalo (4-2, 2-0 MAC) poised to break that streak, Way is excited for the rest of the season.

The Bulls host Massachusetts on Saturday at UB Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. with Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performing in the Stadium Lot at 1:30 p.m.