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Landon Brazile And The Allure Of Upside

The Cincinnati Bearcats are starting over a defensive end in 2015. Jerrell Jordon is gone. So is Brad Harrah. So is Terrell Hartsfield. Two familiar faces return in Silverberry Mouhon and Mark Wilson, but that's it. The primary goal over the summer is to find some other options.

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One of those options is a young defensive end out of Dayton Thurgood Marshall, Landon Brazile. Like the vast majority of the class of 2014 Brazile sat out last season, but he needed that year more than most. You see Brazile's senior season of football in Dayton was his only season of football. For most of his high school career he was a basketball player. He even helped lead Marshall to the state final four as a senior. He needed that year, and he certainly took advantage of it in the weight room. He reported to UC and was listed on last year's roster at 6'6" 230 pounds. The Bearcats have no updated the heights and weights of anyone from last year's roster, and probably won't until this summer. So I don't know what Brazile is weighing in at now, but I will go out on a limb and say it's considerably more than 230 pounds.

That's good, because there is a chance that the Bearcats are going to need to rely on a couple of their young red shirt freshmen defensive ends to give them quality reps behind likely starters Mark Wilson and Silverberry Mouhon. Holding Mouhon and Wilson out of the spring game was absolutely the right move to make on Satutrday. Kevin Mouhon, Kimoni Fritz and Brazile all needed the reps, because they will have to play a little bit this season.

Mouhon the Younger is brand new to the position as he only just got switched to defensive end after the Cats came back from Spring Break. Of the three red shirt freshman Mouhon is probably the most physically prepared. While he doesn't have his brother's height and length he is tough, physical and flys to the football which was the whole point of moving him down a level. Fritz isn't a sensational athlete like his classmates, he is just sensationally productive. He had 10 tackles in the spring game including a sack. If the season started today Mouhon and Fitz would be the two most ready to play.

Brazile is steady lurking. He flashed his potential in his match ups with Parker Ehinger and Justin Murray during the spring game and more than held his own. His stat line wasn't exceptional by any stretch; three tackles with half a TFL. But you can see what he is capable of. He used his speed to great effect and came close to notching a couple of sacks with his speed rush. There was one play where he beat the tackle to the inside gap on a run play and stuffed the heretofore untouchable Mike Boone for no gain. As is usually the case with guys who are new to a position, or the game itself, there are times when he doesn't know what he is doing. When he know's what his role is he is outstanding. Coach Robert Prunty loves his speed, athleticism and potential.

The decision to sit Wilson and Mouhon the Elder will prove to be the right one. Fitz, Mouhon the Younger and especially Brazile needed those starting reps. They would have performed better against the two's, but in playing the one's they get an indication of the level of play they need to reach to help this year. All three of these guys will become good defensive ends for the Bearcats in time, of that I have no doubt. The question at hand, and the one that matters the most, is whether any of them can give the Bearcats meaningful contributions in 2015. For that we will just have to wait and see.