When Eagle quarterback Kyle Vantrease decided to enter the transfer portal and accepted a scholarship offer from Georgia Southern, he had figured he’d seen the last of the University of Buffalo.
When Georgia Southern knocked off Appalachian State three weeks ago and became bowl eligible speculation began about who the Eagles may end up playing. Buffalo ended up becoming bowl eligible themselves the following week with a win over Akron. The next day word came out that Vantrease would be facing off against some of his former teammates as the Eagles and Bulls square off in the Camellia Bowl.
“At first I didn’t know what to think, but after a few minutes I really started to get excited about it,” said Vantrease. “Being able to finish my career against the team I started my career with, that is pretty cool. I still have a lot of friends on the team and the coaches helped develop me into the man I am today."
Georgia Southern head coach Clay Helton now gets a unique perspective on what he can expect from Buffalo on offense and defense, even though the personnel are not exactly the same as when Vantrease was at Buffalo. He also knows this is a great opportunity for Vantrease to get some national recognition.
“He still knows plenty of players and coaches over there so that is a big help,” said Helton. “I think the biggest thing with this bowl game though for him is he has a chance to put a stamp on a stellar last year. This is a chance to put a stamp on his resume for NFL scouts and to put a stamp on his legacy at Georgia Southern.”
Vantrease was happy to be able to assist with the gameplan in any way in order to help the team’s success.
“They have a new defensive coordinator but I can definitely hep with personnel as far as what tendencies they have and what kind of a player they are. I am also able to speak to the culture and what kind of a team we will be facing. They are well coached and have a lot of athletes over there.”
Vantrease admits there is a part of him that really wants to go out there and show the coaching staff what kind of a player he has developed into. He insists it’s more than that though, it’s about proving he deserves to be in the discussion as to who the top quarterbacks are in the country rather than to show up Buffalo. Coach Helton feels that Vantrease is served well by playing with a chip on his shoulder.
“He has played with a chip on his shoulder the whole season,” said Helton. “He has had that chip on his shoulder to prove he is one of the top quarterbacks in the country. You look and see the number of yards he has thrown for this season (3,901) and he has proven that. This is another chance for him on national television as the only game on ESPN and I think it will only fuel him more to do well.”
Vantrease currently holds virtually every single-season passing record and a few career marks as well. Many of the Georgia Southern players are rallying behind their quarterback, who they have grown very attached to, in only one year of playing with him.
“Kyle having played at Buffalo brings even more meaning to this game for all of us,” said senior defensive lineman Dillon Springer. “What a great way for him to go out to go up against a team he used to play for. We want to help do it for him and what better way to go out than to beat the team you started with.”