Football finishes spring season
Starting quarterback position still up for grabs
Four months after Tyree Jackson declared for the NFL draft, the Bulls are nowhere close to finding their starting quarterback for next season.
The Bulls hosted their spring football game on Friday to give fans a taste of what’s in store for next season. Buffalo was without a number of players due to injury or transferring out of the program, and the Bulls were lacking the star power and big plays they were known for last season.
“[I’m] really pleased with the way we ended up the spring,” head coach Lance Leipold said. “Tonight we had the chance to get some guys in. We were short in numbers so the repetitions of some things we had to cut back.”
The Bulls were without running back Kevin Marks, cornerback Aapri Washington and quarterback Matt Myers for the scrimmage, plus others.
Marks and Jaret Patterson will compete for the starting role next season but the group expects to be dominated by committee instead of having a true number one.
Still, Theo Anderson was the number-one running back for the night.
“This group is going to be crazy,” Anderson said. “I can’t wait for the season because we all push each other up. Patterson, myself and Marks can all make plays.”
Running back is the one positional group that isn’t depleted after last season. Buffalo returns both Patterson and Marks, who were the top-two rushers on the team.
Buffalo lost Anthony Johnson, Chuck Harris, Khalil Hodge, Cameron Lewis, James O’Hagan, Tatum Slack and Brandon Williams all to graduation.
Tyler Mabry, K.J. Osborn and Charlie Jones all chose to transfer out of UB.
With all these losses, the Bulls are without their top-five receivers from last season.
Buffalo is still without its starting quarterback for next season with Jackson opting for the NFL draft. Current prospects include Kyle Vantrease, Dominic Johnson, Myers and Trevor Bycznski, an incoming recruit.
Only Vantrese and Johnson played in the spring game, with Myers sidelined with an injury.
Vantrese completed 10 of 22 passes for 96 yards and Johnson completed 4 of 7 for 37 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s tough when you’re not actually named the starter,” Leipold said. “But when you’re in that huddle, you have to act like you’re starting and command everyone to take your leadership. I think we’re starting to see it there and feel more comfortable.”
Vantrese is the only quarterback with real game experience. He started one game in 2017 when Jackson was injured. He attempted 9 passes, completing 4 for 20 yards this past season.
Vantrese said he has to improve in lining his teammates up, strengthening his command in the huddle and creating confidence in his teammates. He said his biggest areas of improvement have been his leadership, progressions, footwork, arm speed and accuracy.
Dominic Johnson said he is not worried about his spring performance. He said most development comes during the summer.
“It’s not necessarily the guy who is playing the best in the spring but the guy who’s really performing in the fall and in the season,” Dominic Johnson said.
Jackson, Anthony Johnson, Lewis and Harris all made appearances at the game. All were in Buffalo for workouts with the Bills as they attempt to take the next step in their careers.
Former NFL running back Branden Oliver also attended.
The Bulls’ spring schedule ended and the team will not practice again until the summer. Buffalo will still have plenty of decisions to make and players to develop before its first game of the 2019 season on August 29 against Robert Morris.
Nathaniel Mendelson is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NateMendelson