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Mack and Bo on major preseason lists

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

In the past week, University at Buffalo Bulls running back Branden “Bo” Oliver and linebacker Khalil Mack have been selected to prestigious preseason award lists.

Oliver, the backfield workhorse who shattered several single-season records as a sophomore, returns as an upperclassman behind a more experienced offensive line, and expectations have never been higher. Maxwell Football Club chose “Bo” as one of 65 players on the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award, given annually to the College Player of the Year. After toting the ball a whopping 306 times in 2011, Oliver—who wears #32—is likely to see an equal workload this year with a new QB under center.

Only 5’8 but a chiseled 204 pounds, Oliver’s low center of gravity and sheer power gave him a burst for which MAC defenders were ill-prepared—at times he looked like a bowling ball. Watching his solo dismantling of Akron last year was a running back’s masterpiece: an exhibition of power, cuts and good reads, that, if Oliver could transfer to a game like Georgia early in 2012, could vault him into serious contention for the Maxwell Award.

Mack, also a junior, reached prominence before Oliver—he has darted into opposing backfields with regularity since his red-shirt freshman season. The physically-imposing outside ‘backer was chosen to the Bronko Nagurski Award preseason watch list, which selects 84 defensive players in the preseason before narrowing the list in December to choose the Defensive Player of the Year. Even though his numbers were stunted last season due to double and triple teams, the fact that Tennessee actually game-planned its offense around Mack’s threat, a massive compliment, shows what kind of a game-changing impact the Florida native had off the stat-sheet.

Check out Oliver, Mack and their pursuit of individual and team glory as the University at Buffalo Bulls begin their season Sept. 1 at Georgia. The home opener is at 6 p.m. Sept. 8 at UB Stadium.

(Header photo of Branden Oliver celebrating a touchdown by Don Nieman from last year’s home opener— full gallery here).

TAGGED: branden oliver, khalil mack, mac football, maxwell award, ub bulls, ub football

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