With his final year of eligibility half over, Boise State safety Khafari Buffalo is realistic about his future.
He’s obviously open to any NFL opportunity that presents itself, but if one doesn’t he’s ready for the real world. Buffalo has a degree in exercise science from The Citadel and he’s working on his master’s in athletic leadership, but he’s self-aware enough to know coaching may not be in his future.
“Coaching is hard because I always think about coaching myself,” Buffalo said. “Sometimes I think I’m not the easiest to coach because of my goofy personality.”
Buffalo is naturally bubbly and effervescent. He’s constantly laughing and cracking jokes — neither of which jived with the no-nonsense culture at The Citadel. Buffalo spent four years at the Football Championship Subdivision school, which has branded itself The Military College of South Carolina.
“The school was just straightforward discipline, and I was more that goofy guy, who stays laughing even when they yell ‘lock it up,’ ” Buffalo said. “I just adapted, really. I learned the times I can joke around and when I can’t joke around.”
Buffalo landed at Boise State for his final season because he wanted to step up and test himself at the FBS level. Of course, his personality came with him.
Boise State coach Bryan Harsin was in the training room recently getting some treatment on his right shoulder when in walked Buffalo, who offered his own brand of emotional support.
“He’s talking to me about ‘Benjamin Button,’ the movie. The backward aging, right?” Harsin said in advance of the Broncos’ game Saturday at BYU (8:15 p.m., ESPN2). “And he’s trying to convince me that, that is exactly what could happen. You can actually go in reverse. And he said he’s trying to help me because I’m older, so he’s trying to give me a little bit of hope.”
“I’m like, ‘That’s enough, I’m not that old,’ ” Harsin, 42, joked. “So, I held him out of practice just a little bit to make a point. After that, he was worried and I let him back in there.”
Buffalo wasn’t in Boise for long before he got a lesson in when to lock in. He was goofing around during a summer weightlifting session and got an earful from Harsin.
“When he got here, it was fun,” Harsin said. “It was fun to be a part of it and fun to be around him, and then sometimes it got to be funny. And at that time, you need to lock back in a little bit because when you go out there and perform, it’s not funny when you don’t do your job.”
Buffalo didn’t just get schooled on Boise State’s culture by Harsin. All the returning starters in the secondary pitched in, but Buffalo said nickel Kekaula Kaniho and safety DeAndre Pierce were the most instrumental in getting him up to speed. He calls Pierce “Coach DP.”
“(Buffalo) is a senior and he’s had himself kind of wired a certain way, right?” Harsin said. “He’s been doing this for a while, and you come in here and you’ve got to get around a really strong group to change some of the habits you took from other places.”
Buffalo has appeared in all six games this season, mostly on special teams, but his experience with the option at The Citadel paid off in the Broncos’ win over Air Force. He replaced Kaniho at nickel — which in Boise State’s system shares some responsibilities with the outside linebackers when it comes to run defense — and posted 11 of the 14 tackles he has accumulated this fall.
He calls himself a plug-and-play guy after having lined up at both safety positions and cornerback at The Citadel.
“He’s a good playmaker, and it’s fun to be around him,” Boise State safety Kekoa Nawahine said. “You like having guys around that are able to make everyone laugh and keep things light while they’re staying focused on the task at hand. It’s good to have people that enjoy life and enjoy football.”
Buffalo’s first interception in a Boise State uniform came in the end zone as time expired in Saturday’s win over Hawaii. It felt a lot better than the one he dropped the week before, and it made for a more pleasant film session.
“Missed opportunity. That’s all I heard all week,” Buffalo said of the days leading up to the Hawaii game. “But it was good to get an interception on the board and help my team. It felt good after the play to see all my teammates run on the field to celebrate with me.”
After that, even Harsin had a little fun.
“He’s a straightforward guy. You can tell he’s disciplined, you can tell he’s got his goals and knows what he wants,” Buffalo said. “But when you see him get goofy, it’s a fun time. When you see somebody serious get goofy, you’re like ‘Dang, he really is human.’ ”
NO. 14 BOISE STATE AT BYU
When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: LaVell Edwards Stadium (63,470, grass), Provo, Utah
TV: ESPN2 (Clay Matvick, Ryan Leaf, Taylor McGregor)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: Boise State is 6-0 overall, 3-0 Mountain West; BYU is 2-4
Series: Boise State leads 7-2 (last meeting: Boise State won 21-16 in 2018 in Boise)
Vegas line: Boise State by 7
Weather: 58 degrees, afternoon showers, 10-20 mph wind