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Buffalo’s 1,000-yard RB Dylan McDuffie enters transfer portal

McDuffie served as the Bulls’ lead back for the first time in his long tenure last fall. Now, he looks to continue his success elsewhere.

Syndication: Akron Beacon Journal Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

Buffalo has essentially earned the “Running Back U” designation in the MAC over the past half decade. Since 2018, the Bulls’ backfield featured five different 1,000-yard rushing seasons by three different running backs. After the reign of the dynamic duo of Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks, a new face took over as the prominent halfback for the program last fall in Dylan McDuffie.

After a prolific season as the Bulls’ No. 1 rusher, the Buffalo native announced his intent to transfer from his hometown team Thursday evening. In the Twitter announcement, McDuffie confirmed he has two years of eligibility remaining — qualifying for a redshirt in his true freshman season of 2018 and receiving extended eligibility for the 2020 COVID-19 riddled season.

McDuffie was a member of Buffalo’s 2018 recruiting class and shared freshman status with Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks — a talented tandem in which both halfbacks attained 1,000 rushing yards in 2019 and averaged over 100 per game in 2020. Thus, McDuffie spent his first few years as a tertiary option in one of college football’s most loaded backfields.

Last fall, the fourth-year Bull finally received his opportunity to guide the rushing attack. McDuffie capitalized with 1,049 yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.1 yards per carry, finishing sixth among all MAC players in rushing. The 6’0”, 215 pound back also contributed as a receiving back in the flats, accumulating 123 yards and a touchdown on 14 receptions.

McDuffie notably heated up during the second half of the 2021 season with four 100-yard outings in his final six games. He maxed out with a career-high of 166, complemented with two touchdowns, in a 56-44 shootout loss to Bowling Green.

Thursday’s transfer announcement wasn’t McDuffie’s first this offseason. He originally entered the transfer portal on Dec. 31 but withdrew on Jan. 31, before deciding to pursue a transfer once more on March 31.

Buffalo’s leading rusher isn’t the only major contributor to transfer this offseason. Three-year starting quarterback Kyle Vantrease transferred to Georgia Southern back in December, so the Bulls will work with an overhauled offense in year two of the Maurice Linguist era.

Without McDuffie leading the backfield, Ron Cook Jr. appears to have the keys to the No. 1 running back spot on the depth chart. Cook, a two-time All-MAC kick return specialist, received ample experience as a rusher last season with 440 yards on 88 attempts. He also finished third on the Bulls in receptions and fourth in receiving yardage, demonstrating his impact on the game in a multitude of ways. Another name to watch is Mike Washington, who held onto his redshirt last season after three appearances. Washington attained 132 yards on 23 carries in limited reps.

Buffalo fielded the 30th most productive rushing offense in the FBS last season. As the names in the running back room change change, the Bulls hope to trot out a 1,000-yard rusher for the fifth straight season and continue their recent track record of displaying elite talent at the position.