BOISE – Boise State’s Kekaula Kanino was asked earlier this week if fellow nickelback Khafari Buffalo had the coolest name on the team.
“Besides me, yeah,” Kaniho said, joking.
Buffalo has fit right in with the Broncos since joining the defense as a graduate transfer from The Citadel over the summer. He has 13 tackles and a pass break-up while rotating in at nickel.
As for his name? Buffalo knew the question was coming when he met with the media Tuesday for the first time since arriving in Boise.
“This is what my dad told me. I don’t know how right it is, but he said it’s a mixture between his name, Kamau, and safari, because he saw himself coming out of a concrete jungle.
“I don’t know what he had going on, but that’s where it came from. That’s all I got for you.”
He has even less of an idea about his last name.
“Don’t even ask me about that,” Buffalo said with a laugh. “That’s above my pay grade.”
Buffalo was born in Boston and lived in both Georgia and South Carolina while growing up before enrolling at The Citadel. He spent four seasons with the Bulldogs, redshirting one and playing three. Last year he started six games as a junior and had 38 tackles and an interception.
But Buffalo earned a degree from The Citadel and still had a year of eligibility left, so he elected to pursue a bigger challenge at the FBS level as a graduate transfer. One thing led to another, and he arrived in Boise over the summer.
“When you grow up you see Boise and it’s the blue field that brings you here, but what brought me here was the family atmosphere,” Buffalo said. “Once I got here they took me in. … Boise is a cool town, too. Real laid back. Everything has been good since I’ve been here.”
Buffalo made his biggest impact in the Air Force game. Familiar with the triple option from his days defending it in practice at The Citadel, he posted a career high 11 tackles on national TV to help the Broncos earn the win.
He’s likely to get significant playing time Saturday against a Hawaii offense that ranks third nationally in pass attempts per game and fourth in passing yards.
Getting a chance to play and contribute on the big stage with an undefeated, top 25 team? It’s worked out just how Buffalo and the Broncos hoped it would.
“It’s crazy,” Buffalo said. “Man, it’s crazy. It makes it even better because of the people around me. My teammates, they took me in like family. It’s been good.”
HAMMER RENAMED IN HONOR OF DAN PAUL
Boise State will honor the life and legacy of former fullback Dan Paul by adding his name to the iconic sledge hammer carried out by the Broncos each game. The Hammer will now be known as the Dan Paul Hammer.
Paul, who played for the Broncos from 2008-12, died suddenly in July. His family will serve as honorary captains for the coin toss prior to Saturday’s game against Hawaii.
“You go look where the Hammer is at in the locker room and the picture behind it is Dan Paul and that was built six or seven years ago,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “We went back and looked at that when he passed away and talked about the hammer and how much he was a part of that being a fullback and with the type of person he was. He was a great Bronco.
“It was a way we could honor him and the Hammer was a pretty easy decision based off what he did here and what he represents. I think our players understood that and they appreciate that. We say ‘once a Bronco, always a Bronco’ and unfortunately he’s no longer with us but our guys … whether they knew him personally or not, they can understand when we talk about him what he meant to this program and to a lot of people around him.”
Paul was a member of the 2009 Fiesta Bowl championship team. More than 40 players from that team are expected back Saturday as well to be honored on the 10-year anniversary of the perfect 14-0 season that culminated with the win over TCU.
VELAZQUEZ OVERCOMES EARLY STRUGGLES WITH BIG GAME AGAINST UNLV
Punter Joel Velazquez was challenged by coaches after a subpar start, and he responded in a big way against UNLV.
Velazquez, who had a 10-yard punt against Florida State and ranked among the worst in the country in punting average through four games, boomed a season long 56-yard punt and had eight punts for an average of 42.9 yards. He downed three inside the 20.
“I’ve been struggling a lot with punts but it was cool to have a better game this last week. I just hit some good punts that I know I’m capable of,” Velazquez said. “It was frustrating early on knowing what I’m capable of and not quite getting that in the game. It was a step in the right direction, but I have a lot more in me.”
Maybe more impressively, he connected on his first career field goal, a 52-yarder as time expired in the second quarter. It tied for the sixth-longest field goal in school history, and was the longest in nearly a decade.
“It was super cool,” Velazquez said. “I’ve been visualizing that kick for a long time, so I was pretty stoked. Right when I hit it I knew it was good, which is a great feeling as a kicker or punter. It was awesome.”
Velazquez, who handles kickoffs, will attempt most 50-plus yard field goals due to his leg strength. Eric Sachse will get the attempts from inside 50 yards. Asked how far he felt comfortable attempting a field goal in a game, Velazquez said, “very good through 60.”
Boise State women’s basketball coach Gordy Presnell will serve as the Grand Marshall of the Homecoming Parade on Saturday. The parade will start at 5 p.m. “I’ll do a little waving and I’m proud to represent Boise State,” Presnell said. “I love Boise State, so if I get the chance to represent Boise State I’ll do it.” Asked if he’s been in a parade before, “No, I’ve stood along the sides for them though, at Disneyland. I don’t know if the floats will be like Disney Land though. It will be fun.” … Close to a sellout crowd is expected for the 8:15 p.m. kickoff on Saturday night, but tickets do remain at BroncoSports.com.