Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

‘Mature’ Defensive Back Marques Buford’s Mentality Getting Him Into Conversation for Huskers

March 08, 2022

There is a lot of buzz around Nebraska defensive back Marques Buford this spring. The second-year defender was mentioned by coach Scott Frost during his opening spring press conference last week and he was called a ‘hidden gem’ by defensive backs coach Travis Fisher the same day. Buford can play either safety or cornerback giving Nebraska position flexibility as a player. His fearless attitude when tackling got him on the field last season as a freshman gunner on the punt team.

“I like to call him a dog,” Fisher said. “He’s a dog, man. He’s not scared of anything. He comes, he shows up every day. Can put him at multiple positions. When I put Marques at safety he didn’t know it was coming. I did it right before practice. Maybe during practice, I say go to safety. If he knew exactly what he was doing or not, the first thing I noticed was his speed. The first thing I noticed was it doesn’t matter if he knew what he was doing or not. The first thing I noticed was him getting to the rock. Players like that are dogs. That’s the mentality.”

Buford told reporters on Monday that attitude comes from a refuse to lose mentality. Even as a safety that isn’t as big as others, he wants to make people prove that they can beat him. Buford believes if you combine that mentality and putting in the work, you will win more than you lose.

That type of mindset is what Fisher meant when he said Buford was one of the more mature freshmen he’s ever been around. It helps that Buford spend a year at prep school before coming to Nebraska. Having that time to be independent and away from home at St. Thomas More in Connecticut served him well. That compliment from Fisher carried a lot of weight for Buford.

“That was probably the greatest compliment I can get coming here early as a freshman,” Buford said. “Having my position coach say that I’m one of the most mature freshmen he’s had and he’s been coaching for years and years before I got to him. That was a huge honor. I’ll say it stems from really just my work ethic and then my drive to get better no matter what it is.”

That work ethic has been on full display since he arrived in Lincoln. As a freshman, he played in every single game during the 2021 season. He totaled three tackles on special teams and was one of only two true freshman to play in the season opener. He made his debut on the defense against Fordham.

Buford said that he was a smart player in high school, but it was athleticism that took him over the top. He didn’t really have to focus on what the offensive formation was or pay attention to his keys. Now he finds himself studying all aspects of the Nebraska defense.

“I kind of go formation by formation,” Buford said. “I’ll sub in each defense that we run and each formation and then I’ll look at what the safety call will have to be. I’ll think about what the linebacker gap would be. I’ll even go a step further. I’ll try to see if this guy motions across, what are we going to check to. Just trying to put myself on the field, even when I’m not on the field as much as I can.”

Fisher refers to the safety as the quarterback of the defense. That role handles a lot on the field. It takes a special type of player to be able to excel in that spot for Fisher. Buford is displaying traits that could make him part of the conversation this fall. That’s if he stays on his current path. Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander sees a player with a bright future too.

“He’s got a high level of learning,” Chinander said. “There’s all different kind of learners. Some learn off the film, some learn off the walk-through, some learn off the playbook. Marques learns it all. He’s got a higher learning, a little bit like Marquel Dismuke, where it’s not just, ‘Where do I line up in Cover 3? Where do I go?’ It’s understanding, ‘What’s the issues? What’s the spacing? What are the other guys doing around me?’ I think once you get to that level, you can become a really good football player.”

  • Never miss the latest news from Hail Varsity!

    Join our free email list by signing up below.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap