See all 2 photos
Senior defensive lineman Kimani George is a good example of how a recruit can change positions and still be effective
See all 2 photos
Caesarae Lewis wasn’t used much at ECC, but at Buffalo State he has found a home and has been effective
While the Bengals finished their season on a high note, they are about to lose some seniors to graduation, and now they need to fill in their roster.
The coaches will begin their recruiting process the Monday after Thanksgiving and split up into different high school regions all across New York State. The coaches will spend three weeks meeting with their potential high school recruits.
“Now is just getting out there and introducing ourselves, making them aware that Buffalo State is an option,” assistant coach Christian Ozolins said. “We shoot for kids that are Division I possible and Division II. Those are the kids we feel we’ve been able to luck out on. Some of those kids don’t want to talk to us yet. They still think that they’re going to get a scholarship. They don’t realize right now at this point, if they haven’t been offered, they’re not getting one.”
When all of the coaches get back from their road trip, they’ll sit down and run all of their possible recruits through a recruiting system before getting a little break for the holidays.
Once January begins, the coaches will spend about eight hours per day watching highlight tapes of their recruits in their film room, next to Head Coach Jerry Boyes’ office. For three weeks the coaches will spend their time trying to figure out which athletes they want to pursue.
From there, the coaches will start calling those athletes and try to convince them that Buffalo State is the right choice for them despite the fact that Buffalo State can’t offer scholarships.
“We offer nothing,” Ozolins said. “All we offer is what we can get through financial aid. What we offer is the opportunity to come in and get a great education for a great price and an opportunity towards working our way back to one of the best college football programs in the East.”
Freshman running back Richard Pete came from TR Proctor High School in Utica and contributed right away for the team this year. Pete led the team with 753 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns, but he shined in the Bengals’ last four games, scoring eight touchdowns, six rushing and two receiving.
A lot of teams overlooked Pete because of his size. When it became clear to him that he wasn’t going to get a scholarship, he decided to look at Division III schools. That’s where the Bengals’ coaching staff capitalized.
“I got a call from coach Ozolins telling me that he wanted me to come visit,” Pete said. “He told me about Buffalo State and how they were trying to rebuild this program. I came from a program where we were rebuilding ourselves, so I figured it would be a good place for me. When I came on my visit, I liked the environment and I like the players. I thought Coach Boyes was a good coach and I thought that I could come in and participate in the program, so that’s why I chose Buffalo State.”
Recruiting doesn’t just take place in high school though. It also takes place in community colleges.
Sophomore wide receiver Caesarae Lewis is a prime example of how community college athletes can transfer over and have an immediate impact. He finished second on the team with 1,032 all-purpose yards.
“I ran into a few problems at [ECC] and things didn’t work out over there,” Lewis said. “The only thing they had me playing was kick return really, and I know that I am a great receiver. I was searching around and a few of my coaches were telling me to go over to Buff State and I decided to come.”
Recruits don’t always turn out as expected though as was the case with senior defensive lineman Kimani George. George came to Buffalo State hoping to play tight end, but he immediately switched over to defensive end and ended up finishing his career with 10.5 sacks over his final two seasons.
“When I came here, I sent [the coaches] my highlight tape on everything as a tight end, but when I showed up here at orientation, they told me I’m playing defensive end,” George said. “I felt kind of sad at one point, but I knew they thought I was good enough to play the position and obviously they saw something in me that qualified me to play the position.”