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Returning Player Refresher: Mark Wilson

A five-game starter in 2015, Wilson is now one of Cincinnati's most experienced defensive ends.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Silverberry Mouhon is no longer lining up on the edge for the Cincinnati Bearcats, Mark Wilson might just be the top defensive end at camp. The 6-3", 246-pound junior has been a fixture in the defensive line rotation during the last two seasons after redshirting in 2013. A former two-star recruit, Wilson has not always flashed the dominant pass-rushing prowess of some of the talented defensive ends that have worn the red and black, but he has been durable and reliable. In 2014, he played in nine games and he played in 12 games while making five starts in 2015.

His presence was felt the most during UC’s tough loss against Houston on Nov. 7. Wilson wrapped up six ball carriers, setting a season-high in tackles. It was a hefty chunk of his total for the season (20), which included 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. Mouhon was the only player with more TFL than Wilson last season, and his sack total, although meager, was ranked third on the team.

His two sacks came in wholly opposite efforts and served as bookmarks for the 2015 campaign. His first came in the first quarter of the season opener against Alabama A&M, when he dropped De'Angelo Ballard for a seven-yard loss late in the first quarter. UC went on to win that game 52-10. Wilson would wait nearly four months before his next sack, bringing down San Diego State quarterback Christ Chapman for a loss of two yards during the Hawaii Bowl. However, we all know that game didn’t end all that well and the Bearcats were already down 21-0 by the time Wilson broke through for the sack.

As fall camp approaches, Wilson should have an even larger role for UC’s defense. Like most of the defensive line, the areas that Wilson needs to improve on are creating pressure and slowing the run. Although the spring game did not turn out to be a platform for him to jump-start his 2016 season, Wilson is a player to keep an eye on in a deep crop of edge rushers looking to prove themselves.