Football hauls in 131st-ranked recruiting class

Lance Leipold ‘excited,’ despite slide in rankings

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The numbers are in, and they aren’t pretty.

The 2020 UB football recruiting class ranks 131st in the country, a 25-place drop from last year, according to 247Sports.

Buffalo solidified its 2020 class with four commitments on National Signing Day. This rounded out a 17-member class, which includes eight players who enrolled early in January.

“We’re excited about this group,” head coach Lance Leipold said in a press release. “It’s talented. We’ve hit on all positions for the most part at this time. As you see these guys being a part of our future, it’s an exciting time and an exciting day.”

Leipold may be taking a positive approach, but the Bulls alarmingly still reigned in the lowest-ranked class in the Mid-American Conference.

In 2018, the Bulls set a program-record with 10 wins. Last August, they opened a $15.5 million fieldhouse. In late December, they earned their first-ever bowl win, a 31-9 victory over UNC Charlotte in The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.

Despite these seemingly positive figures and program milestones, the Bulls were still out-recruited by conference foe Akron, a program which finished with the worst record in Division 1-A last season. This is a worrying sign for the Bulls as they try to build on the successes of the last two seasons.

The Bulls’ 2020 class includes nine three-star recruits, seven two-star recruits and one transfer, according to 247Sports.

Defensive tackle George Wolo is the Bulls’ highest-rated recruit. He had seven Division-I offers, including from Florida Atlantic and Toledo.

At 6’5”, 200 lb., weak-side defensive end Bryce Johnson-Maith is a big-bodied lineman and the Bulls’ second biggest get. The Bulls successfully obtained three defensive linemen this recruiting cycle, addressing it as a position of need.

Quarterback Casey Case will likely compete for the starting spot in the 2022 season. He is 6’6” and 195 lb., which fits the mold of big-bodied quarterbacks that Leipold has targeted. Hailing from the sunshine state, Case also had offers from Stetson University and Wagner College.

Offensive guard Ray Thomas-Ishman transferred as a graduate student from the University of Massachusetts. He was a three-year starter for the Minutemen, and was named to the Preseason All-Independent First Team and to the Reese’s Senior Bowl Watch List prior to the 2019 season.

Over the past few years, the Bulls have struggled to attract top talent to the Queen City, but have been effective in developing their players — since 2018, they have landed 23 players on a MAC all-conference team.

Former UB standouts like Khalil Mack, James O’Hagan and K.J. Osborn were all two-star recruits. The Bulls have only landed one four-star recruit in their history, according to 247Sports.

It’s unclear why the Bulls have struggled to attract top talent.

Recruiting coordinator Rob Ianello — who served in the same role at the University of Kansas and Notre Dame — is considered a maestro. The Bulls have improved every year under the current coaching staff. The university has invested considerable amounts of money into  football facilities.

Still, the Bulls have failed to make the Queen City a desirable destination. They will need to work on that if they wish to sustain long-term success.

Justin Weiss is the senior sports editor and can be reached at justin.weiss@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @jwmlb1.  

JUSTIN WEISS


Justin Weiss is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or doing both at the same time. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald.