BUFFALO, NY – Several Buffalo football players earned recognition on Phil Steele's 2011 post-season teams, most notably freshman linebacker Lee Skinner who was put on the national second-team defense for first-year players.
Skinner, a freshman from Fairborn, OH, ranked second on the Bulls with 80 total tackles, including 38 solo stops. He also added five tackles for loss, two pass breakups and recovered a fumble on the season. Skinner was part of the National All-Freshman second team along with linebackers Hayes Pullard (USC), Denzel Perryman (Miami, FL) and Yawin Smallwood (Connecticut).
Meanwhile, the accolades continue to roll in for sophomores Branden Oliver and Khalil Mack, as both players were named first-team All-MAC by Steele.
Oliver broke the school record for rushing yards (1,395), attempts (306) and all-purpose yards (1,760) in a record-breaking campaign. Mack had 65 total tackles and led the Bulls in tackles for loss (20.5), sacks (5.5), forced fumbles (5) and quarterback hurries (13). Last week, Mack was named to the Sports Illustrated All-America team as an honorable mention linebacker.
Also earning recognition by Phil Steele were sophomore wideout Alex Neutz (second team) and cornerback Najja Johnson (third team). Neutz, despite missing three-and-a-half games, finished second on the Bulls with 43 receptions for 641 yards (an impressive 14.9 yards per catch) and led the Bulls with four touchdown catches. Three times this season he had over 100 yards receiving (Pittsburgh, Northern Illinois and Miami, OH), including a career-high 10 catches against Pitt.
Johnson, meanwhile, made a big impact on the UB secondary as a first-year starter. The sophomore from Atlanta, GA had a total of 39 tackles, including 31 solo stops, and a team-leading 16 passes defended, which currently ranks tied for eighth in the nation at 1.33 per game. Johnson had first career interception in a 51-10 win over Akron, and added an additional 15 pass breakups, to tie the school record of 16 passes defended for a single season. Johnson set a career-high with four pass breakups at Ball State in week three.