Lauzze gets to live a dream at UB
When Chris Lauzze filled out information for his University at Buffalo football profile, he put that one of his dreams was to play in a bowl game.
After red-shirting one year, Lauzze is a fifth year senior at UB and now that dream is going to come true as the Bulls will be playing in the International Bowl on Jan. 3. It is the first Bowl game UB has played in since becoming a Division I school in 1999.
"This is really amazing," said Lauzze, who is a Pembroke graduate. "I said on my profile that it was my goal to play in a bowl game. It's kind of fun to accomplish that. It wasn't the easiest trip - there was a lot of losing in my first three years, but to win a MAC championship and go to a bowl game is huge."
Lauzze graduated from Pembroke in 2003 when he led the Dragons to a share of the Genesee Region League title. He is one of the most dominant offensive lineman ever to come out of the GR.
He redshirted his freshman year and worked out with the UB scout team. Lauzze spent the next season working with the scout team, but was considered a freshman on the team.
As a sophomore, he appeared in five games, and then earned the back-up center position in his junior year. He played in 11 games that year and was the team's long-snapper.
"It was kind of a weird situation," Lauzze said. "I was going into winter workouts last January and I was competing with another kid. During spring ball I was battling with him and after spring I had a meeting with coach (Turner) Gill, and he said I was the clear-cut winner. That was a great thing."
Lauzze has been the team's center all season long as the Bulls compiled a 7-5 record en route to earning a trip to the MAC title game. Buffalo shocked previously undefeated Ball State 42-24 to claim the first title since joining D1.
"It was real crazy because we were big underdogs," Lauzze said of playing the 12th ranked team in the nation. "I keep thinking about how far we've come, with this being my fifth year here. It is crazy."
A big reason why the Bulls have turned around is coach Turner Gill, who has completely turned the program around.
Buffalo had won just 10 games in seven years before Gill was hired. The Bulls went 2-10 in his first year, then 5-7 last season. UB had not won five or more games since 1996, when the team went 8-3 while playing a Division I-AA schedule.
Gill - who is one of just three black head coaches to lead a Division I team - is now getting serious looks from a lot of schools. He played football and was an assistant coach on NCAA championship teams at the University of Nebraska.
The head coaching job was open for the Cornhuskers last year and Gill was one of the top candidates. Right now he is being considered as a top choice for the Syracuse and Auburn jobs.
"He brought a different attitude to the (UB) program," Lauzze said. "In terms of building relationships with players, he did that. He brought in new coaches and a new system. He's a players coach, I'd say."
Lauzze has been taking one class this semester, finishing up his business degree. He already has job offers and is continuing to look for what's best for his future.
But right now, he's enjoying being one of the few Genesee Region League athletes to play sports at the Division I level.
"There aren't that many guys playing college football at any level." Lauzze said. "Many guys play Division III for a year and then quit. To play Division I and start in my final year is definitely rewarding."