Buffalo transfers big news for Kansas football for multiple reasons
But before we get too far into analyzing things, it’s worth pointing out that I didn’t watch a single snap of Buffalo University football last season.
So I don’t know who can play, who can’t and what any of those guys’ strengths and weaknesses are.
The recent decisions by two Buffalo defensive linemen (Eddie Wilson and Ronald McGee), two offensive linemen (Mike Novitsky and Michael Ford), a linebacker (Rich Miller) and a wide receiver (Trevor Wilson) qualifies as massive news for KU’s transition to first-year coach Lance Leipold.
It’s been 28 days since Leipold was officially introduced as the Jayhawks’ new head coach, and while nearly everything he has done in the four weeks since then has conjured up an image of a coach who knows what he’s doing, the fact remains that Year 1 at Kansas still figures to be a major challenge.
These additions, however, may make the task easier. Not from the perspective of wins and losses necessarily. Rather, from the idea of laying the foundation and establishing the culture for what Leipold and company hope will lead to an eventual turnaround at Kansas.
Charlie Weis did this to a certain degree, but not with the type of players that Leipold is bringing with him. Weis’ Notre Dame guys were either part-time players at the back ends of their careers with the Irish or came to KU with some kind of injury concerns.
David Beaty also tried it with a Texas A&M transfer or two, but his attempt caught even less traction.
Leipold is bringing with him accomplished players who all would have been a major part of Buffalo’s team during the 2021 season.
Eddie Wilson and Novitsky were all-conference selections last season and considered to be among the most talented returners in the MAC.
McGee, Miller and Trevor Wilson are players who were working within the system to establish themselves as key pieces of Buffalo’s future, moving from special teams duty and learning from upperclassmen to spot starts and key roles as reserves.
And Ford, who redshirted as a freshman in 2020, was considered by many as a likely starter in 2021.
Although Buffalo has had much more success than KU in recent years, the Jayhawks’ roster has finally started to resemble one that belongs in the Big 12 Conference. So the competition Leipold’s crew will have when things get going should be stout. None of those six players — or any others Leipold might still bring with him — will have anything handed to them at KU.
But whether they win starting jobs and play major snaps or fall into reserve roles, bringing them into the program both bolsters KU’s depth at key positions — particularly offensive and defensive line — and gives the rest of the roster a substantial sounding board.
These guys know Leipold and his assistants. And they can answer for the rest of the current Jayhawks questions of why this, how come that and when do we get to this?
The mere fact that many of these Buffalo transfers can actually play is purely a bonus. There’s no doubt that their skills and talent may help speed up KU’s journey from bottom dwellers and perennial laughingstock to competitive program that can start talking about winning games again.
But even if that doesn’t happen in right away, these guys can still play a huge role in rebuilding the program.
For one, they all have multiple years of eligibility remaining, which means they, too, are investing in this program’s future.
For two, their understanding of the way Leipold and his coaching staff run their program will be huge in helping the rest of the roster understand it and adjust more quickly.
This might not be the same thing as Oklahoma landing Jalen Hurts from Alabama, Kyler Murray from Texas A&M or Baker Mayfield from Texas Tech, but, by Kansas standards, it might wind up being just as big.
More important than any of it is the fact that the willingness of these six players to follow Leipold to Lawrence shows clearly how much of an impact he made on the players he coached in the past. And if he can create that same kind of connection with his players at KU, there might be hope for the future of Kansas football.