The 2015 Bearcats season had plenty of highs and lows, with both good performances and disappointments. But the the best performances of the 2015 campaign go to left tackle Parker Ehringer, and the quarterback he was protecting, Gunner Kiel.
Ehringer, a senior, has been a fixture on the offensive line for years, and one of the most reliable players on their offense. He has played in 13 games for the past four seasons and been recognized as a top offensive lineman in the conference for two of those seasons. In 2015, he was named first team All-American for the conference and was a team captain and leader throughout the year. Now entering the 2016 NFL draft, Ehringer is seen as a mid-to-late round prospect.
Gunner Kiel may have had some bumps in the road in 2015, but he was a key part of an offense that put up big numbers throughout the season. Kiel finished the year in the top 20 in completion percentage nationally (65.2%), and close to the top 20 in passing efficiency and yards per game.
His accuracy was on display early in the season, completing 18 of 22 passes for 233 yards against Alabama A&M. He had a huge game the next week, throwing the ball 52 times for 427 yards against Temple. After missing time near the middle of the season, Kiel came back and had two big games in late October, leading the way to a 37-13 rout of Connecticut, and then throwing five touchdowns in a win against UCF.
Kiel would help lead the Bearcats on a game-winning drive in the regular season finale against Eastern Carolina, completing several passes on a drive in the final three minutes and setting up Andrew Gantz to kick the game-winning field goal. The win helped secure a bowl berth, a game that unfortunately Kiel would not play, not making the trip to Hawaii due to a personal matter.
With the NFL draft approaching, Ehringer hopes to be drafted by an NFL team, while Kiel looks to build upon the high points of last season for his senior year. Ehringer has put together a very respectable career with the Bearcats and Kiel gets another go with Cincinnati in 2016, but in either case, they both certainly contributed to the successes of the 2015 season.