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Returning Player Refresher: Nate Cole

Big things are expected of Cole in 2016.

NCAA Football: Connecticut at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 season will belong to Nate Cole or at least it should. After spending four long years fighting for playing time near the bottom of the depth chart, it is finally time for the senior from Memphis to take on the mantle of No. 1 wide receiver.

With the Cincinnati Bearcats’ top six receivers from last year gone, this is now Cole’s unit. A 6’1”, 210-pound senior, Cole has been with UC since 2012 when he played in one game before redshirting. A three-star recruit for the 2012 class, Cole was ranked the No. 13 player in the state of Tennessee by Rivals and the No. 92 receiver in the class by Scout.

He made his first career catch in the fourth quarter of a 66-9 brutality of Northwestern State in 2013, pulling in a slant pass for no gain from Bennie Coney. Cole only managed to catch three more passes that season and finished with 39 yards on the year.

Cole kicked off the 2014 campaign in style, hauling in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Gunner Kiel during UC’s 58-34 win in the season opener against Toledo. However, that one catch was his only one of the game. During the rest of the season, he had multiple catches in only two games, getting two for six yards against Ohio State and another two for 12 yards against USF. That kind of erratic production was the norm for Cole, who had a total of 145 yards and two touchdowns on 15 receptions despite playing in all 13 games.

He played in all 13 contests once again in 2015 and set career-highs in receptions (19) and receiving yards (262). His 50-yard catch against Houston highlighted the best game of his career, as he finished the contest with three receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown. Cole had six multi-catch games in total and broke past the 30-yard mark three times as well. In 2016, its all but guaranteed he will absolutely smash those marks as well as any of his other personal bests.