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Bulls on Parade: Six Buffalo players follow Leipold and assistants to Kansas

Lance Leipold’s departure continues its lingering effects in the transfer portal.

Buffalo v Miami Ohio Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

There haven’t been too many positives for the Kansas Jayhawks football program in the last decade. But the program which has experienced 12 consecutive losing seasons is now gaining a horde of personnel from a 2020 Top 25 finisher.

Former Buffalo head coach Lance Leipold departed for Kansas on April 30, and the lingering effects from Leipold’s decision can still be felt in Upstate New York. First, while overhauling its staff, Kansas hired five former Buffalo assistants to continue working under Leipold. Offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki, defensive coordinator Brian Borland, offensive line coach Scott Fuchs, linebackers coach Chris Simpson, and quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski are among the staff headed to the plains of Lawrence, KS.

Now, some of Buffalo’s key players from the 2020 team that achieved the first final AP Poll ranking in school history are reuniting with Leipold in the Big 12.

The majority of players that announced their transfer to Kansas were potential starters for Buffalo in 2021. Each of these announcements occurred within a 24-hour span.

Michael Ford, OT — Ford redshirted his freshman season at Buffalo in 2020, but the 6’3”, 285 pound lineman was projected to compete for a starting spot at guard or tackle. The Illinois native has not played a down of college football to this date, but he should take the field this fall in Jayhawk colors under Scott Fuchs, his former offensive line coach.

Rich Miller, LB — Miller has been an important piece of Buffalo’s special teams unit the past two seasons. He compiled 22 tackles in 2019 and 2020, and generated his first career TFL in the opener at Northern Illinois last November. Buffalo’s strongest position group for 2021 is linebacker, where James Patterson, Kadofi Wright, and Tim Terry return. Miller may look to increase his role on defense at Kansas under a familiar linebackers coach in Chris Simpson.

Ronald McGee, DT — McGee is one of two defensive tackles leaving the MAC to join the Jayhawks. The senior should be familiar with his new home, as he attended Highland Community College in Kansas in 2018 — a 90-minute drive from Lawrence. McGee started one game last season and was poised to break out into a starting role for 2021. He shined against Northern Illinois last season by matching his career-best with three tackles and a share of a sack.

Mike Novitsky, C — No offensive line has experienced as much success as Buffalo over the past two seasons. Even after losing three starters in 2019, the Bulls held firm as the line with the fewest sacks allowed in 2020. With Novitsky transferring to Kansas, all five 2019 starters are gone and three of the five 2020 starters have moved on. Offensive line coach Scott Fuchs looks to continue his dominance with Novitsky after he served as the centerpiece to one of the best pass protecting and run blocking lines in the country over the past two seasons.

Eddie Wilson, DT — Wilson was a fan favorite in Buffalo — even ESPN color analyst Mike Golic Jr. declared him as his favorite college football player. Known for his snug-fitting No. 0 jersey as well as his physical defensive line play, the 325-pound nose tackle will now anchor the defense at Kansas. The 2020 All-MAC selection’s presence will be missed on the Buffalo defense after producing 60 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 23 starts as a Bull.

Trevor Wilson, WR — Wilson made his college football debut last November and quickly established himself as Buffalo’s premier deep threat. The son of former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Robert Wilson, Trevor hauled in three touchdowns on 16 receptions last fall and averaged approximately 20 yards per catch. He was instrumental in the MAC Championship Game with season-highs in the receptions (6) and yards (118) departments.

Buffalo proved throughout the Lance Leipold era that it could replace a slew of key players and remain dominant. The Bulls maintained their place near the top of the conference standings after losing offensive stars Tyree Jackson and Anthony Johnson prior to the 2019 season. Then, 60 percent of a dominant offensive line departed and the Bulls still ranked among the nation’s elite in fewest sacks allowed and most rushing yards produced.

Not only does Buffalo have the arduous challenge of replacing 2020 All-Americans in Jaret Patterson and Kayode Awosika — the Bulls must stay afloat without six major contributors headed to Kansas. But this time, Leipold and his coaching staff won’t be there to facilitate the turnover.

Instead, newly hired coach Maurice Linguist will face the challenge of keeping Buffalo in contention after a historic 2020, following the mass exodus to Kansas.