AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — Kahlil Mack’s peach suede jacket commanded attention on an afternoon devoted to Blue vs. White at UB Stadium.
The most accomplished NFL player to come out of the University at Buffalo football program was the guest of honor at the Bulls’ spring game Sunday. In his first public visit to UB since being drafted fifth overall nine years ago, the All-Pro linebacker and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s most recent All-Decade team greeted fans and former teammates before being welcomed on the field after the first quarter by Bulls coach Maurice Linguist.
“UB, it’s a pleasure to be here,” Mack said. “It’s a blessing to be back.”
“It’s good to see everybody. Old faces, even new faces,” added Mack, 32, now entering his 10th NFL season and second with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Mack reflected about recently starting a family as reason for reconnecting with his alma mater.
“The love is still there,” he said.
Linguist, who was an assistant coach at UB during Mack’s junior and senior seasons, invited the Bulls’ all-time great back.
“That is the power of lifelong relationships,” Linguist said. “It was a text and a matter of us getting on the phone within the five minutes. He said, ‘what do you need me to do?’ Can you visit the spring game, talk to the guys? He said, ‘Coach, I’ll be there.’
“That’s how selfless he is.”
Mack addressed the Bulls at halftime, “about opportunity, about pushing through, about his experience here and how it shaped him moving forward and about how it gave him that edge going into the NFL,” Linguist said. “And it left a great ripple affect in our locker room.”
“That was crazy,” said Nik McMillan, the freshman wide receiver from Buffalo who was one of the standout performers in the Blue vs. White game. “It was the first time that I’ve ever seen him in person. That’s really Kahlil Mack there, a Pro Bowl, first-round pick. That let me know you can really get it done coming from here.”
“Real recognize real,” Linguist said. “Any time players have that itch that they want to go on and continue their careers, and they see walking in a guy that’s been All-Pro at D-end, All-Pro at linebacker, probably going to be a Hall of Famer, the humility he has, the confidence he that he carries with him, I think it gets everyone’s attention.”
White 25, Blue 7
McMillan caught four passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns, including a 73-yarder in the third quarter that was the longest gain of the day and sealed game for team White.
The 6-foot-1 McMillan, All-Catholic MVP in his junior season for the Canisius High School team that won a state championship, has had a solid spring after finishing his redshirt season on the travel roster for the Camellia Bowl victory.
“Sitting my freshman year, I learned a lot, it was definitely a humbling experience,” McMillan said. “Now I’m just trying to get in where I fit in, go out there every day and try to earn what’s mine.”
With UB’s top returning rushers Ron Cook and Mike Washington both sitting out while recovering from injury, it was Joe Giggie, redshirt freshman walk-on from Fairport who led team White with 120 yards on 34 carries.
Running back Mark Anthony Scott scored the lone Blue touchdown on a 61-yard reception while rushing for 37 yards.
Blue quarterback Cole Snyder, UB’s starter, completed 10 of 23 pass for 102 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Gunnar Gray was 11 of 22 for 148 yards passing and 32-yard touchdown to McMillan. CJ Ogbonna was 6 of 9 for and the other touchdowns. Both of team White’s quarterbacks had an interception in their auditions to be Snyder’s primary backup heading into fall camp.
Devin Grant, a safety who played as a true freshman and with McMillan was part of Linguists’ lauded first recruiting class for UB, made an interception that led to one of the White touchdowns. Cornerback Clevester Hines, converting from wide receiver, also had an interception, along with a sack.
Joe Andreessen, the Lancaster graduated who transferred to UB after an FCS All-America campaign at Bryant, led the Blue defense with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. Dion Crawford had 11 tackles and an interception. Caleb Offord also picked off a pass, and Fabian Weitz forced and recovered a fumble.
Jonah Bronstein joined the News 4 roster in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. Read more of his work here.