The runner up for the top spot in this countdown goes to none other than Armon Binns. The Pasadena, California native has done so much for Cincinnati, giving up the warm shores of southern California for the cold weather of Cincinnati among them. It was truly a shame he didn't take a redshirt his freshman year. Can you imagine seeing 'Abizzle' back for his senior season running alongside D.J. Woods, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Isaiah Pead? UC's offense would have put up no less than 50 points a game. But that's in the past now and we can only appreciate Binns for his amazing play at wide receiver. My favorite moment from him (and UC football for that matter) was the infamous game winning touchdown against Pitt to clinch the 2009 Big East title. But I also loved his burning of UConn that same season and the circus catch in the corner of the endzone against South Florida last year.
As far as this play that made #2 on our countdown it was one of the most exciting moments of the football season. With many thanks to Armon Binns and his innate ability to catch any football thrown in his vicinity it both helped retain the Keg of Nails in Clifton and allowed Cincinnati to open up Big East play 1 - 0. Let's take a look:
Armon Binns game winning touchdown vs Louisville (via 513official4)
The game was very much up for grabs with just under ten minutes remaining in the 4th quarter and Cincinnati leading by the smallest of margins 28 - 27. It was 3rd and long just inside the Bearcats' own territory in front of 58,000 rowdy Louisville Cardinals fans screaming for a defensive stop. That's easier said than done as the Bearcats had already put up over 350 yards of total offense with Zach Collaros accounting for all four Cincinnati touchdowns. Needless to say the offense was clicking on all cylinders and continuously putting the Cardinals on its heels. Charlie Strong was defensive mastermind at Florida and is a great overall defensive coach but for the life of me I have no idea why left the cornerback one on one with Binns on that side of the field without rolling a safety over to help. It looked to me like Cover-2 but the Cardinals' safeties were playing to prevent the big play in the slot from D.J. Woods and seemed to ignore the stretch play out of big ol' #80 down the sidelines. It was a gamble as Woods was doing work on that secondary already catching two touchdowns of his own.
Still, the dice rolled in UC's favor as Collaros saw the mismatch and went for the home run. To be honest, he didn't put enough air under the ball and should have lead Binns further down the field to allow him to better catch the ball in stride. But that just allowed Armon to better show off his abilities. In the clips above I showcased his ability to flat out burn cornerbacks with his long legs and tall frame. But here showed his ability to high-point the ball. This is an extremely important trait of a wide receiver when fighting for a ball against smaller defensive backs. The defender is typically smaller but all they have to do is disrupt the catch to make a play whereas the receiver actually has to physically catch the ball, a somewhat more difficult task. In addition, Binns showed of his size. At almost 210 lbs he outweighs most cornerbacks by 15 - 20 lbs. On this play he shows his ability to own his space and use his body to protect the ball as he catches it. It's a skill that goes fairly under-the-radar for wide receivers as it showcases their toughness and willingness to give up their body to make the catch.
The Bearcats are going to miss Armon Binns this season. He was a mainstay in the offense just like Mardy Gilyard was in 2008 and 2009. The past is the past but if he had taken a redshirt his freshman year he would have made the 2011 Cincinnati wide receiving corp among the best in the country. Maybe then we could see more plays like this out of him while wearing red and black.