Super Bowl week activities took a backseat, at least for several hours, to a previously-unknown Illinois State University football recruit who dominated social media for more than a day.
Kansas high school football player Kobe Buffalomeat literally made headlines when his decision to play at ISU was made public during national college signing day, February 1st. His unique handle was highlighted online and otherwise by Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Washington Post, New York Times and other media outlets.
The viral internet coverage set a record for Illinois State University social media mentions, according to Nate Carpenter, director of ISU's Social Media Analytics Command Center.
"Since we've been keeping track, it's blown everything else out of the water," Carpenter said during Sound Ideas. "Even in just the last month, we've had some great activity, first with the men's basketball team defeating Wichita State, and then another win against Evansville. But with this, we're talking multitudes more mentions, thousands more posts," Carpenter added.
"And we're only studying him in relationship to Illinois State University. There are literally millions of tweets and posts talking about Kobe directly. During the Wichita game, we had about 500 tweets an hour. In this case, we were seeing about 5,000 tweets within an hour, and again that's just with 'Illinois State' or 'ISU' mentions with Kobe," said Bryant.
The Lawrence, Kansas high school offensive lineman was among the top national trending topics on Twitter for several hours Wednesday.
"(Buffalomeat) trended for four hours and made it as high as the top seven in the United States," said Carpenter. "The only things really outperforming him that day were #NationalSigningDay and #BeyoncesTwins, not to mention Cabinet committee selections and Senate hearings," Carpenter added. And then there was an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live Thursday.
Redbird football fans may have to wait awhile to see Buffalomeat in a game at Hancock Stadium. Because he only recently began playing high school football, his development will follow a long curve as he sits out this fall taking online classes part time. He'll then enroll fulltime at ISU next January, red-shirt the fall of 2018 and begin playing in 2019.