The Bulls are back on top of Mid-American Conference recruiting for the second consecutive year.
The updated 2023 football recruiting class rankings came out on Feb. 1 — National Signing Day — when coveted high school players usually announce their commitments to play college football. Although UB didn’t land any elite four or five-star recruits, the 2023 class is full of high-level talent (no MAC team was able to land a four- or five-star player).
Head coach Maurice Linguist commended his staff’s recruiting efforts, telling The Spectrum that “people see the end result of our recruiting class — and it’s worthy of being celebrated — but there’s hundreds of hours of phone calls [and] arranging visits.”
UB picked up 32 new players: one is already enrolled, 22 signed letters of intent and nine are transfers. The Bulls have the conference’s largest overall class, the most transfers and the most three-star players.
Linguist said he didn’t focus specifically on recruiting one position, but said, “from receiver, to tight end, to safety, to corner, to quarterback, we want to address every single position on our roster with talented and driven student athletes.”
Linguist, 38, now entering his third season as UB head coach, recognized the impact of the Bulls’ 2022 Camellia Bowl win and the program’s growing profile.
“Anytime you play nationally televised games — and you’re able to play well and win — it gets the nation’s attention,” Linguist said. “It allows recruits in Florida, Georgia or California to see our program. Those things contribute to building that bridge to show a recruit why they’d want to join this family.”
It’s no surprise that Linguist — who gained a reputation as one of the nation’s top recruiters through stints at Texas A&M, Minnesota, Mississippi State and Iowa State, to name a few — has secured his second-consecutive No. 1 MAC class this offseason. Here are the new additions you need to know:
UB took full advantage of college football’s latest craze: the transfer portal. Along with the best overall class, the Bulls had the highest-rated MAC transfer class. View the full transfer class here.
CJ Ogbanna, three-star quarterback, Southeast Missouri State
Ogbanna is the only quarterback to transfer to the Bulls. (Two others signed letters of intent.) Ogbanna is the highest-rated quarterback in the UB 2023 recruiting class.
He didn’t start for the RedHawks in 2022, but in 2021 he put up 1,521 yards and 15 total touchdowns. That included four total touchdowns in the final game of the 2021 season, a 31-14 win over UT Martin. He made the Ohio Valley Conference All-Newcomer team in 2021.
But Ogbanna isn’t perfect. He struggles with accuracy, and his career completion percentage is nearly 50/50.
But, he’s still a welcome addition to UB’s quarterback room. Senior Cole Snyder is the likely starter in 2023, but depth is always valuable — look at Brock Purdy’s recent playoff run with the San Francisco 49ers.
Demetrius Harris, three-star safety, Cornell University
The Michigan native went Ivy League for four years. During Harris’ senior year, Cornell had a top-50 defense in Division-I and he tied for third on the team with 45 tackles.
Before Cornell, Harris won a Michigan high school state title while playing safety, linebacker and receiver at Muskegon High School.
At 6’2 and 191 lbs., he is the highest-rated player to transfer to UB in 2023.
Zion Carter, tight end, Dartmouth
Another Ivy-Leaguer, Carter is nearly Gronk-sized — 6’6, 230 pounds. He adds an interesting wrinkle to UB’s offense, but he needs to develop.
Despite his physical gifts, Carter caught just one pass in 15 games at Dartmouth. But Dartmouth averaged less than 163 passing yards per game in 2022. UB averaged 40% more than that. Will the Bulls be able to unlock him?
Even if Carter’s just a blocker, the Bulls can still use his size in their high-scoring offense.
Jamarr Davis, three-star offensive lineman, Northwest Mississippi Community College
At 6’4 and 315 lbs., Davis adds Power-Five size to the UB offensive line. Davis was 247sports.com’s 45th-ranked junior college recruit, and the highest-rated UB recruit in the 2023 class.
Davis received offers from four other schools — including Georgia Southern, whom UB defeated in the 2022 Camellia Bowl — but chose to bring his talents to Western New York. He is one of three offensive linemen in the 2023 UB class.
Dion Crawford, three-star linebacker, Collins Hill High School
With the departure of All-MAC linebacker James Patterson, UB’s defense needed to fill a void in the middle. The 6’1, 235-lb. Crawford is the highest-rated defensive recruit in UB’s 2023 class.
The Bulls managed to beat out powerhouse schools like Florida State, Michigan, Tennessee and Arkansas to secure Crawford’s services.
The Suwanee, Georgia native is a huge get for Linguist, defensive coordinator Brandon Bailey and the Bulls’ defense.
Micah Woods, three-star wide receiver, Hutchinson Community College
Linguist reached back into the junior college depths for another of UB’s top 2023 signings. Woods (6-foot, 175 lbs.) looks to replenish the Bulls’ receiving core as star wideouts Justin Marshall and Quian Williams depart for the NFL Draft.
Woods was a long way from Marshall’s 64 receptions and 837 yards, but on just 17 receptions in 2022, he caught three touchdowns and averaged just under 14 yards per catch.
Woods received 17 offers (multiple from notable Group of Five programs such as Colorado State, Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee State and Temple) but chose to become one of five receivers in the Bulls’ 2023 class.
Ryan Tantalo is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org