Bulls in the big leagues

A rundown of UB athletes that made it professionally


There’s more UB athletics alum than Khalil Mack. 

We’ve had members of the NFL Hall of Fame, UFC fighters, players who became coaches and soccer players all graduate from UB. UB has been able to turn out a number of professional athletes, despite not being a Division-I program for the majority of its history.

Gerry Philbin

Gerry Philbin is the most accomplished athlete to ever leave UB. Drafted by both the NFL’s Detroit Lions and AFL’s New York Jets in 1964, Philbin went on to have a successful career as a defensive end with the Jets.

Philbin was a two-time AFL all star, an AFL champion and won Super Bowl III with the Jets, the only Super Bowl in the team’s history. Philbin was named a member of the AFL’s All-Time team and was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

Philbin has been retired for the past 20 years and, like most people who live on Long Island, decided to move down to Florida.

Desmond Green

Desmond Green is a Western New York native who attended Rush-Henrietta High School in Rochester before coming to UB. He is an American mixed martial artist who currently competes in the lightweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Desmond “The Predator” Green was a member of UB’s wrestling team but was removed after testing positive for marijuana. He was a Mid-American Conference Champion and a three-time NCAA qualifier for the Bulls.

Green began his professional career in 2012 and currently has a record of 22-8 with six wins by knockout and one by submission.

Green made his debut with the UFC in 2017 in a homecoming fight at UFC 210. Green competed against Josh Emmett at the KeyBank Center where we won after a split decision.

Green is currently 3-3 in the UFC and will fight again on May 18 at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester.

Turner Battle

Turner Battle played point guard for UB from 2001-05 and is credited with fueling the resurgence of the men’s basketball program.

In his senior season, Battle averaged 15.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. The Bulls were a last-second tip away from winning the first MAC championship in school history. Battle was named MAC player of the year, the first for a Buffalo player. 

Battle played two years professionally before finding a home in coaching.

He returned home to be an assistant coach at Sweet Home High School and in 2007 became an assistant at UB. He has since been an assistant coach at Chattanooga and is currently an assistant at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Most recently, he was interviewed for the head coaching position at Buffalo.

Russell Cicerone

Russell Cicerone is a soccer player who currently plays for Saint Louis FC of the United Soccer League.

Cicerone is a forward and played with the Bulls from 2013-16. He graduated as one of the most prolific goal-scorers in history with 42 for his career.

Cicerone was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 MLS draft by the Portland Timbers and was assigned to FC Cincinnati of the USL where he scored one goal in 10 appearances. This season Cicerone is a member of Saint Louis FC in the USL.

In seven games, with six started through so far this season, Cicerone has scored two goals for the team as it is currently first place in the league with 14 points and a 4-2-1 record.

Sports Desk can be reached at sports@ubspectrum.com