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Tuesday, April 20, 2021
The independent student publication of The Unversity at Buffalo, since 1950

A look at the players participating in UB football’s Pro Day

Six Bulls will be performing in front of NFL scouts at this year’s UB Pro Day

This year’s Pro Day is of increased importance, as the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
This year’s Pro Day is of increased importance, as the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

With the 2021 NFL Draft just 43 days away, UB football will hold its annual Pro Day Thursday morning at the Murchie Family Fieldhouse.

This year’s Pro Day is of increased importance, as the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. UB’s Pro Day will serve as the only in-person opportunity for NFL teams to evaluate the school’s prospects as they perform on-field and physical performance drills and take official physical measurements.

Media members will not be allowed inside and each NFL team can send a maximum of three scouts or representatives to the event, as a result of the pandemic.

Six Bulls will be participating in this year’s Pro Day, as scouts from around the NFL will evaluate their performances.

Here’s a look at the six Bulls participating in UB’s 2021 Pro Day:

Jaret Patterson 

Class: Junior

Position: Running Back

High School: Saint Vincent Pallotti (Laurel, MD)

Unofficial Measurements: 5’9, 195 lbs.

Is there anything that hasn’t been said about UB’s star running back?

Following his record-breaking 409-yard, eight touchdown performance against Kent State last November, Patterson found himself in the national spotlight.

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In six games this season, the Glendale, MD native rushed for 1,072 yards and led the nation with 178.7 yards per game. Patterson also found the end zone 19 times and was named Mid-American Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

It took Patterson just five games to tie the all-time FBS record for fewest games needed to reach 1,000 yards in a season. Patterson also rushed for 710 yards in back-to-back games against Bowling Green and Kent State, which is the highest total in consecutive games in FBS history.

The All-MAC first-team and All-America second-team selection has drawn comparisons to former NFL Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice for his exceptional balance and low center of gravity when met with contact.

While Patterson has met virtually with multiple NFL teams, size is one of the biggest concerns scouts may have about the Bulls’ running back. The UB Pro Day is Patterson’s opportunity to prove those doubters wrong.

Patterson is an expected third to sixth round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, although that could change after his Pro Day performance.

Malcolm Koonce

Class: Senior

Position: Defensive End

High School: Archbishop Stepinac (White Plains, NY) / Milford Academy (New Berlin, NY)

Unofficial Measurements: 6’3, 250 lbs.

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Senior defensive end Malcolm Koonce was named to the 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List before the season.

Koonce was named to the 2020 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List before the season, and it took him just six games to prove why.

The Peekskill, NY native earned first-team All-MAC honors for the second consecutive season in 2020, recording 30 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in just six games.

In his breakout 2019 season, Koonce led the MAC with nine sacks and was named Defensive MVP of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, as he helped lead UB to its first bowl win in program history.

The 2021 Reece’s Senior Bowl invitee’s 17 career sacks ranks seventh all-time in UB history.

Some scouts view Koonce as slightly undersized for the NFL, but the pass rusher makes up for it with his solid length and bend when getting around offensive linemen.

Koonce is currently projected to be a Day Three draft pick, falling somewhere between the fourth and seventh rounds.

Kayode Awosika

Class: Senior

Position: Offensive Tackle

High School: Maple Grove (Maple Grove, MN)

Unofficial Measurements: 6’5, 315 lbs.

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Senior tackle Kayode Awosika has been a pillar of consistency at both tackle spots for the Bulls.

A three-year starter for the Bulls, Awosika has been a pillar of consistency at both tackle spots.

Awosika was named first-team All-MAC and second-team All-American by the Football Writers Association of America in 2020.

The physically imposing offensive tackle led the way for a rushing attack that averaged 287.4 yards per game, good for second in the nation.

Awosika and the rest of the offensive line only gave up one sack all season and were semifinalists for the Joe Moore Award, given annually to the best offensive line in the country.

In 2019, Awosika blocked for Patterson and Kevin Marks, who together set a school-record with 3,256 rushing yards.

Some of Awosika’s game is raw and he might project as a guard at the next level, according to scouts. A dominant run blocker, Awosika must work on his pass protection and technique to become a starter in the NFL.

Awosika is looked at as a Day Three pick in the upcoming draft.

Antonio Nunn

Class: Senior

Position: Wide Receiver

High School: Jefferson High School (Tampa, FL)

Unofficial Measurements: 5’11, 200 lbs.

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Senior wide receiver Antonio Nunn led the Bulls with 37 catches for 584 yards and two touchdowns in 2020.

Nunn started all seven games for the Bulls in 2020, leading the team with 37 catches for 584 yards and two touchdowns.

The explosive playmaker was a second-team All-MAC selection and was a go-to target for quarterback Kyle Vantrease throughout the season.

Nunn tied a school-record with 13 catches and tallied a career-high 182 yards against Ball State in the MAC Championship Game under Ford Field’s bright lights.

In his junior season, Nunn started 12 games and hauled in 49 catches for 687 yards and six touchdowns en route to a third-team All-MAC selection.

Nunn doesn’t have the flashiest receiving stats because UB is so focused on its rushing attack, but the Tampa native brings maximum effort in both the pass and run games.

A solid technician with an explosive burst, Nunn has been praised by scouts for his deep-ball prowess. Nunn ran a limited route tree at UB, something that may give some teams pause.

Projected as an undrafted free-agent with sixth or seventh round potential, Nunn can find himself in the Day Three conversation if he tests well at his Pro Day.

Tyree Thompson

Class: Graduate Student

Position: Outside Linebacker

High School: Bishop Alemany (Los Angeles, CA)

Unofficial Measurements: 6’1, 225 lbs.

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Graduate student outside linebacker Tyree Thompson had 32 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, in seven starts for Buffalo in 2020.

Thompson has played for four collegiate teams in six years of eligibility.

Thompson began his collegiate career at Sacramento State, where he played two seasons in the Big Sky Conference. He then played his 2017 season at La Valley Junior College, where he recorded 51 tackles, including 11 for loss.

Thompson then spent two seasons at UCLA and was the Bruins’ starting inside linebacker in 2018, where he recorded 55 tackles, good for fourth-best on the team.

The Los Angeles native came to UB as a graduate transfer in his final year of eligibility and was a key contributor on defense.

Thompson had 32 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, in seven starts for Buffalo in 2020.

A sideline-to-sideline playmaker, Thompson’s speed makes him an ideal fit for the modern NFL.

Some scouts are concerned that Thompson doesn’t necessarily excel at too many aspects of the game, but he is a well-rounded hybrid linebacker who can find his way onto an NFL roster.

Expect Thompson to hear his name called in the seventh round or end up an undrafted free agent.

Ray Thomas-Ishman

Class: Graduate Student

Position: Offensive Guard/Tackle

High School: Simon Gratz (Philadelphia, PA)

Unofficial Measurements: 6’3, 325 lbs.

A three-year starter at the University of Massachusetts, Thomas-Ishman arrived at UB as a graduate transfer in 2020.

Thomas-Ishman played both guard and tackle in his three seasons with the Minutemen, making the Phil Steele All-Independent first-team in 2018 and second-team in 2017.

Playing primarily left tackle in 2018, Thomas-Ishman was a key member of an offense that ranked 14th in the FBS with 298.1 passing yards per game and set a single-game program-record of 777 total yards against Liberty.

In 2020, the Philadelphia native appeared in all seven games for the Bulls and was a versatile cog on the offensive line. Thomas-Ishman provided much-needed depth for one of the best offensive lines in the nation and helped pave the way for running backs Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks.

Scouts like Thomas-Ishman’s ability to play with a wide base and aggression in one-on-one scenarios. However, his lateral mobility, heavy feet and occasional abandonment of strong blocking technique will cause him to struggle against speed rushers at the next level.

Thomas-Ishman could be a late-round pick but will most likely hit the market as an undrafted free agent.

UB’s Pro Day will be aired Thursday morning at 8 a.m. on the UB Bulls YouTube channel.

Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor and can be reached at anthony.decicco@ubspectrum.com


ANTHONY DECICCO
anthony-decicco-1.jpg

Anthony DeCicco is the senior sports editor for The Spectrum. In his free time, he can be found playing video games, watching ‘90s Knicks games and arguing with people on NBA Twitter at 3 a.m. 

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