As we all know the scholarship limit for college football teams is 85. For the 2014 season I have the Bearcats carrying roughly 81 scholarship players. 76* of those come from the 2010 through 2014 recruiting classes, the others came via transfers Jeff Luc (Florida State), Gunner Kiel (Notre Dame), Tyreek Burwell (SUNY Cortland) and Eric Wilson (Northwestern). One of those is Lindsay Crook who sort of fell into their laps from Australia. Former walk on and Senior offensive lineman Dominic Mainello earned a scholarship last year. One would expect that the staff would reward one or two of the longer serving walk ons with a scholarship to get closer to that 85 man limit for this year, maybe Kevin Hyland or Clemente Casseus? Both have been around for a long time and contributed on special teams and in reserve roles for years. Last year the staff awarded Mainello and the departed Adam Dempsey with scholarships before the season. I expect the same thing this year, If not Casseus and Hyland then someone, so figure on at least 82, possibly 83 scholarship players on the 2014 .
*That could be 77, but I have heard from multiple people that one member of the class of 2014 is unlikely to qualify academically
There are 22 scholarship seniors who will be playing their last football in 2014. Using the higher 83 man scholarship estimate that means that UC has room for 24 in the 2015 class, and they have already filled 15 of those slots. But what are they going to do with the remaining 9 spots? To figure that out you have to look at the class as it currently stands
|Quarterback||Running Back||Wide Receiver||Tight End||Offensive Line||Defensive Line||Linebacker||Defensive Back||Athlete|
|Ross Trail||Taylor Boose||Braxton Neal||Doug Bates||Marquise Copeland||Bryce Jenkinson||Malik Clements||Daniel Cobb|
|James Gardner||Garrett Jansen||Joshua Norwood|
|Norman Oglesby||Jhavonte Dean|
It's obvious isn't it, the offensive line has to be the priority from here on out. At the start of the process offensive line wasn't a huge need, merely a moderate one. But at this point all the other major needs have been addressed, and the offensive line becomes a much bigger priority than it was.
Tubs and Co. don't need to go out there and grab six linemen the way they have on the defensive side of the ball, but they need a couple of quality guards and an offensive tackle in this group for it to truly address all of the needs. So, who is out there?
The guy at the top of the board has to be Evan Mallory originally for Brownsburg, Indiana who is spending his final season at the IMG academy in Bradenton, Florida. Mallory has been on campus several times, has a good relationship with the coaching staff, particularly offensive line coach Darren Hiller. But he doesn't seem to be in a rush to decide, and his playing for IMG Academy could very well bring in some bigger names into the contest, which could effectively bar the Bearcats from Mallory.
Christian Strachan is another guy to watch. He attends the same high school as 2014 commit Frank Labady and has a final five of Syracuse, South Florida, East Carolina, Louisville and UC. It will be tough to get him out of Florida, but given the depth of the Bearcats need and how active USF has been with O-Line recruiting the past few classes a playing time case could be made.
A final name to watch is Ben Cooper, another Westerville kid (Central High School) who has held a UC offer since January. Cooper has been relatively quiet in the recruiting process, he has some connections to Kentucky, and an offer, but his crystal ball is split between the Bearcats and Wildcats.
Finding new offensive line targets has to be a must from here on out. UC had a good deal of local offensive line talents that have chosen to go elsewhere. George Asafo-Adjei (Lakota West) is heading to Kentucky, Noah Listerman (Winton Woods) is going to Michigan State, Ross Stepanic (Ross) is going to Indiana.
The staff is extending the net a bit with their offensive line offers, they recently offered Kameron Eloph of Louisiana. There is going to be a healthy quantity of offensive linemen at the Under the Lights camp, some of whom could see offers fly their way. But I also expect Tubs and Co. to be very active looking for offensive line help in the JUCO ranks. its not time to panic on the offensive line front, there is still plenty of time, but that position remains the most glaring need left in this class.
As for the other positions this camp is going to be interesting, its a good mix of players for next year as well as guys hunting offers in this class. One such player is Abu Daramy from Westerville who doesn't currently have an offer, but could be a possible replacement for the departed Antonio Howard. He is a little bigger, but has blazing speed and great ball skills.
There are also a couple of guys who are reported UC leans who could end their recruitment with a good visit. Dior Johnson, a safety from Michigan seems to be the most likely of the bunch. Johnson hails from the same high school as LEVITICUS PAYNE which gives the Bearcats something of an in. Johnson is another big bodied (6'2" 195) defensive back who probably projects to safety more than corner and would see the Bearcats set on safeties for the 2015 class.
This is the last big showcase event for the program in a recruiting sense, and it wouldn't be a total shock to see a commit or two come from the camp.