COLUMBUS, OH – University at Buffalo football standouts Branden Oliver and Khalil Mack will be honored among the nation's top returning players on Saturday night at the 57th Touchdown Club of Columbus Awards Banquet at the Lifestyles Communities Pavilion.
Oliver and Mack, who were first-team All-MAC honorees as sophomores – at tailback and linebacker respectively – this past fall, will make up one-third of the group invited by the Touchdown Club of Columbus as Mid-American Conference (MAC) players to watch in 2012. They will be joined as honorees along with Miami senior quarterback Zac Dysert and wide receiver Nick Harwell, Ohio junior quarterback Tyler Tettleton and Western Michigan senior quarterback Alex Carder.
The event will also feature some of the top returning players in the nation as well as honoring the Touchdown Club's top award winners from last year. Among the more than a dozen "players to watch" nationally that will be in attendance will be running back Ray Graham (Pittsburgh), defensive standouts Jarvis Jones and Bacarri Rambo (Georgia), running back Le'Veon Bell (Michigan State) and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.
Also in attendance will be graduated standouts Case Keenum of Houston (Sammy Baugh Award), Kellen Moore of Boise State (best college quarterback), running back Montee Ball of Wisconsin (Archie Griffin Award) and Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder (Woody Hayes Coach of the Year). Former Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish will accept the 2011 Male Athlete of the Year for his performance in the classroom and football field.
"This is a tremendous honor for Branden and Khalil to be recognized this early in their careers as some of the best players in an outstanding conference like the MAC," said head coach Jeff Quinn, who will attend the event as well. "They will be among the very best college football players in the nation on Saturday, which is company that I think they fit in very well with. I am very grateful to the Touchdown Club of Columbus for the recognition for those young men and the University at Buffalo."
Oliver, a native of Miami, FL, smashed UB's single-season records for rushing yards (1,395 yards, a total that ranked 14th in the nation), carries (306) and all-purpose yardage (1,760 yards) as a sophomore while being named first-team All-MAC. He also set a school record by going over 100 yards on eight occasions, while adding 13 touchdowns. He rushed for a Division I school record of 235 yards vs. Akron.
Mack, meanwhile, earned not only first-team All-Conference honors but also was tabbed by Sports Illustrated as an honorable mention All-American. The Fort Pierce, FL native had 65 tackles, including 20.5 tackles for loss, a figure that finished the year third in the nation. Mack added five forced fumbles (tied for eighth in the nation), 5.5 quarterback sacks and 13 quarterback hurries.
All-time leading tackler Davonte Shannon is the only UB player to be named first-team All-MAC as a sophomore before Oliver and Mack this season.