Sophomore Bryce Jenkinson may be young, but like other young defensive players who have already made this list, he showed flashes of potential that not only helped the Bearcats this year, but will also help them in the future. Jenkinson finished with 55 tackles on the year, along with an interception. He made at least five tackles in nine of the 12 games, showing that despite his youth, he made an impact in many games this year.
Without a doubt, his two strongest games came against Houston and Connecticut. On October 24, against Connecticut, he recorded a sack in the second quarter with the Bearcats up 21-10. The sack resulted in a fumble, though it would be recovered by UConn. However, the drive stalled quickly after that, and Connecticut failed to get much going for the rest of the game. Jenkinson would finish with eight tackles in that game.
An even more impressive performance would come against Houston two weeks later, though his biggest play wouldn't be until late in the game. In the fourth quarter, with the Bearcats down by 11, Jenkinson picked off Houston quarterback Greg Ward, Jr., an interception which would eventually be turned into points after a drive by Gunner Kiel. The game would be narrowed to 33-30 as a result of the turnover, though the Bearcats would go on to lose. In that game, Jenkinson finished with a season-high nine tackles.
Prior to attending Cincinnati, Jenkinson posted a playmaking ability and a nose for the football, finishing with 102 tackles during his senior year of high school, and posting six straight games with double-digit tackles.
Despite all of his success, Jenkinson still needs to watch his style of play. He was ejected in a game against Tulsa in the first quarter for targeting. This caused the Bearcats to be shorthanded on defense in that game, especially with the injuries of two of their other defensive players.
This year, however, Jenkinson has shown a knack for making plays and playing at a consistent level. Let's hope he keeps it up in 2016.