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Linden Stephens Season in Review

Stephens started the year well and was one of the better pass defenders for UC but he lost his starting job as the season wore on.

NCAA Football: South Florida at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

  • 36 total tackles
  • 2 interceptions
  • 7 passes broken up
  • 9 passes defended

In his junior season, Linden Stephens was able to replicate a rather solid sophomore campaign as he was a key cog in the secondary rotation all year for the Bearcats. His 36 total tackles was ranked 13th on the team overall and sixth among Cincinnati defensive backs. Stephens’ individual pass defense efforts were better than a lot of players on the team especially at cornerback as he led the team in passes broken up and ranked second behind Mike Tyson in passes defended. His two interceptions also helped the Bearcats to rack up 17 as a team, which tied for 10th nationally during the regular season.

However, with the good came the bad. Stephens started the first four games of the season but eventually lost his job to Alex Thomas, who started eight of the last nine contests. Stephens still played all year, but the demotion was not what you want from a rising junior, especially one who has ball skills and has shown flashes of being an effective corner.

The Best of the Best

Sept. 1 vs. Tennessee-Martin

Not surprisingly, many of UC’s defenders had big games in the 28-7 win over the FCS Skyhawks. Stephens racked up a season-high seven tackles and also snagged his first interception of the season in this one.

For Next Year

Stephens should still compete for a starting job at cornerback next season, although until we know who will be taking over at head coach, its tough to know what type of scheme UC will employ and what that means for the personnel. Stephens is a player that got called for a few too many infractions during the season and losing his starting job to a sophomore means he will need to continue to be able to make plays on the ball to push his way back to the top of the depth chart.