Back-to-back for Mack, three Bulls dubbed all-stars
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • November 28, 2012 @ 11:14am
The University at Buffalo Bulls football team landed stud outside linebacker Khalil Mack on the All-Mid-American Conference first team as well as receiver Alex Neutz and defensive end Steven Means on the second team.
With 21 tackles for loss—most in the MAC—a team-leading 94 tackles and eight sacks, Mack ranks as one of the most dominant players in University at Buffalo’s Division I history, earning his second straight first-team selection. He’s a joy to watch, too, as he relentlessly swarms to the ball, using an exceptional combination of strength and speed to befuddle blockers.
Returning from a broken wrist in late 2011, Neutz racked up 11 touchdowns—tied for tops in the MAC—and over 1,000 yards receiving. The Bulls’ only real receiving threat until Fred Lee returned late in the year, the former Grand Island Viking regularly faced—and beat—double teams with his size and ability to high-point the football. His Hail Mary touchdown before halftime against Kent State may have been the team’s play of the year.
Means improved mightily as his senior season progressed, finishing with 6.5 sacks and three blocked kicks. His passion for the game—and desperation late in his final season at UB—rubbed off on his teammates, too—I don’t think it’s a stretch to credit Means’ leadership as a major reason for the Bulls’ three-game win streak that solidified Jeff Quinn’s contract extension.
Who was snubbed? No Bulls were listed on the All-MAC third team, and here are a few with a compelling case for selection.
Najja Johnson, cornerback: 43 tackles, team-leading five INTs, 11 passes defended
3rd teamer CB stats:
Cameron Truss, Bowling Green: 59 tackles, four passes defended, no INTs. Led team in solo tackles with 46.
Eric Patterson, Ball State Cardinals: 60 tackles, 4.5 TFL, two INTs, 10 passes defended.
Cheatham Norrils, Toledo: 69 tackles, two INTs, seven passes defended.
Johnnie Simon, Western Michigan: 103 tackles, one INT, four passes defended.
Colby Way, defensive lineman: 58 tackles, 10.5 TFL, seven sacks: Way was both disruptive and productive, leading an underrated UB pass-rush unit that also boasted Mack and Means. Big things will obviously be expected of Mack and Way as seniors next season.
3rd team DL stats:
Nate Ollie, Ball State: 48 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, four sacks.
Jake Dooley, Kent State: 38 tackles, 7.5 TFLs, 6.5 sacks
Neal Huynh, Ohio: 26 tackles, eight TFLs, two sacks
Ted Oullet, Bowling Green: 30 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, three sacks.
Graham Whinery, offensive lineman: It’s tough to quantify with offensive lineman, and it’s probably a tendency for the coaches who voted in the poll to judge which teams had strong running games and then choose upperclassmen. Whinery recovered from last year’s injury-marred season to lead a young offensive line that helped a whole stable of running backs find success—not just Branden Oliver. The 6’4, 302 pound senior played in all 12 games, predominantly at right guard.
(UB vs. Bowling Green photos by Kasey Poloncarz; UB vs. Pitt photos by Don Nieman and UB vs. Kent State photos by Don Nieman).