MACwood Squares is our summer reading series on the best athletes in Mid-American Conference sports history. This week features Buffalo. Looking for your MAC school? Consult our schedule for other teams and please submit your nominees as well.
UB football is one of those that has been around forever but was constantly put on halt for one reason or another. Since their first game in 1894, there have been three shutdowns of the football team, each lasting three or more years. The most recent one was from 1971-77. They've made about as many poignant political statements as they have won championships.
And sadly the Bulls didn't have many individual stars prior to their reentry into Division I football. Most of what we remember is what they did in the MAC. So we'll focus on them.
DT Gerry Philbin (1961-63) — Possibly the most accomplished tackle ever to play in the AFL. After a great college career, Philbin was simul-selected by the NFL's Lions and the AFL's Jets, both in the third round. He chose the Jets and was part of their Super Bowl III defensive line that held the Baltimore Colts to seven points.
WR Drew Haddad (1996-99) — He wasn't exactly Randy Moss, but when moving from I-AA to I-A it helps to have a star. Haddad was their most accomplished wide receiver at the time. With 3,409 yards over a four-year career, he still has more 100-yard games than anyone else. A second-team All-MACer in the Bulls' first I-A year, Haddad was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the seventh round, but only registered one reception in a three-year career with them.
DE Trevor Scott (2004-07) — He recorded a total of 19 sacks, all in the final two years of his college career, Scott was a second-team All-MAC selection and became a sixth-round draft pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2008. He's worked his way up to a starter with them, and in a three-year career has totaled 13½ sacks.
QB Drew Willy (2005-08) — Well, we need a quarterback in here. Because ... look, we just do, and Willy has pretty much all the quarterbacking records wrapped up around his little pinky. His signature game was the three-touchdown effort against Ball State in the 2008 MAC Championship. Undrafted, Willy bounced around a few NFL practice squads and played in a few games for last year's UFL champion Las Vegas Locomotives.
RB James Starks (2006-08) — We may know this name a little better, despite the injuries. And he might've made bigger waves at UB but he missed his entire senior season. Despite all this, Starks still holds Bulls records with 3,140 yards and 34 touchdowns. A successful surgery later, Starks was taken in the 2010 draft and suffered yet another injury right off the bat, missing the first 12 weeks. But he came back at the right time and can always say he was the starting running back for a Super Bowl champion team.
WR Naaman Roosevelt (2006-09) — I hope he likes Buffalo. Because he's never leaving, it seems. His high school, college, and pro career are all based in WNY. Roosevelt most prominently was the favorite target of Willy during their 2008 MAC Championship run; he further broke many of Haddad's receiving records, putting him sixth all time in MAC receiving yardage. Going undrafted was the perfect way to stay in the area and sign with the Bills.
SS Davonte Shannon (2007-10) — His pro career remains unknown, but he's one of the most decorated defensive player in MAC. He and Barry Church are the only defensive players to receive four first team All-MAC honors, and he finished his career with the all-time tackles record, bringing down the ball carrier 461 times.
Little coincidence that four of these players were teammates on the 2008 championship team. Hey, that's when they were good. And I know I missed a few gems, so please educate everyone here.
Who are your nominees for Buffalo's MACwood Squares? Comment below, tweet us at @HustleBelt or submit a FanPost making your case. The final nine will be revealed Friday.