The University of Hawaii football program has picked up a top-tier receiver. Rico Bussey, Jr., a graduate transfer from North Texas, has announced his intention to join the Rainbow Warriors.
Bussey, a 6-2, 193-lb. native of Lawton, Oklahoma, was on the Biletnikoff Watch List. (Named After Hall of Fame legend Fred Biletnikoff, the award is annually given to college football’s most outstanding receiver.) However, he suffered an ACL injury in September and was forced to miss the remainder of the season. He will have one more year of eligibility as a Rainbow Warrior.
Bussey appeared in six games as a true freshman in 2016, snaring 8 receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown. In 2017, he raised his numbers to 47 receptions for 677 yards and 7 scores. In 2018, his junior season, he brought in 68 passes for 1,017 yards and 12 TDs. Bussey left North Texas as the program’s fourth-leading player in career receiving TDs (21) and career 100-yard games (9).
Bussey entered the NCAA Transfer Portal in March and reportedly received some interest from the likes of Miami, Nebraska and Virginia Tech.
On May 6, NFL Draft Diamonds published an article with the headline, “Whatever team lands Rico Bussey as a grad transfer is hitting a home run.” In the article, writer Damond Talbot referred to Bussey as “maybe the best player in the [transfer] database.” Another writer has described Bussey as a “strong, physical receiver that understands how to use his frame and strength to position himself to make contested catches.”
When healthy, Bussey is regarded as an intriguing NFL prospect. Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com wrote, “North Texas receiver Rico Bussey Jr. has been graded as a top-75 choice by several scouts around the league. He’s a lean pass catcher with the size, speed and hands to play on Sunday … Bussey measures in just over 6-feet tall, tips the scales around 200 pounds and plays to his timed speed of 4.45 seconds. He’s a smart, instinctive receiver who separates from defenders with crisp routes while also doing a great job locating the soft spot on the field. [Bussey] shows an immediate burst of speed, which allows him to separate from opponents and, though not a true vertical threat, Bussey effectively makes the deep reception when called on.”
At UH, Bussey will join a receivers group that includes returnees Jared Smart, Lincoln Victor, Kumoku Noa, Nick Mardner and Melquise Stovall, as well as incoming recruits Zion Bowens, Quinshone Bright, Riley Wilson, Kilohana Haasenritter, Calvin Turner and Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala.
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