A depth chart is a living thing. It looks different in the spring than it does before fall camp, then evolves throughout August and on into the regular season. We have reached the end of fall camp stage of the evolution, as Cincinnati’s depth chart is locked in for Thursday’s opener with the Tennessee-Martin. Below you can see the full depth chart in all its glory.
We found out Hayden Moore would be the starter last week. What is surprising is that Ross Trail, a redshirt freshman, is plugged in as the backup over Gunner Kiel. Trail might be knocking on Moore’s door for the next few years and it appears that Tommy Tuberville is ready to start that process in 2016.
This is tremendously bad news for Kiel, who went from full-time starter to third-stringer in a calendar year.
The best thing about this depth chart is that Mike Boone is listed first among running backs. Boone’s big play ability is unquestioned, as he averaged 7.2 yards per carry last season and 6.4 the year before. Tion Green will undoubtedly get a large share of work as well. You don’t keep somebody with 729 yards and eight touchdowns last season off the field for too long. Still, seeing Boone get the first team reps should lead to even more offensive success.
The first two spots went to Nate Cole and Kahlil Lewis, which isn’t a surprise at all. Cole is the top returning receiver for the largely inexperienced group and Lewis has been riding a groundswell of hype this summer. JUCO transfer Devin Gray’s experience likely helped elevate him to the No. 3 receiver role.
Avery Johnson has a ton of potential and is comfortable at UC after redshirting and its very interesting to see Jerron Rollins be listed as a second-string receiver as well. A true freshman, Rollins’ speed could make him a difference maker.
DJ Dowdy will get the passes and Tyler Cogswell will fill in the gaps as a backup. No surprises here.
The first string of the offensive line rotation features just who we thought it would. Deyshawn Bond will anchor the line at center, Ryan Leahy and Idarius Ray will provide help at the guard spots and Ryan Stout and Korey Cunningham will fill the holes at tackle.
Behind them, things look a little different than anticipated, especially with Reed Armagost, a redshirt freshman, listed as the backup left tackle. Projected as a tight end out of high school, Armagost has clearly worked hard and done enough to show he can make a living in the trenches.
Starters on the other side of the line also were predictable, with Alex Pace and Cortez Broughton lining up inside and Kimoni Fitz and Mark Wilson manning the outside. Kevin Mouhon, who had three sacks in the spring game, is listed behind Fitz and is clearly making a full shift to defensive end after playing linebacker last season.
The Bearcats are fortunate to have several other strong options who will begin the year as reserves with Sione Tongamoa, Marquise Copeland and Landon Brazile. It will be up to that group and the starters above them to reverse UC’s struggles with the pass rush.
Eric Wilson and Bryce Jenkinson were locks as starters. Mike Tyson was not. The senior, who is still listed as a safety on UC’s official roster, will be given a shot closer to the line of scrimmage. He beat out Antonio Kinard and Jaylyin Minor for that starting job, although those two guys are listed as backups to Wilson and Jenkinson, fitting better at weak side linebacker and middle linebacker, respectively.
Zach Edwards, Grant Coleman and Linden Stephens will return to their starting roles, Coleman doing so after missing a large chunk of last season due to injury. Tyrell Gilbert might as well be a returning starter, as he started in eight games last season, producing 50 tackles and an interception along the way.
JUCO transfer Davin Pierce may not have won a starting job, but he already carved out a role for himself on defense and Alex Thomas, who played in nine games in 2015, is a solid backup at corner as well.
Andrew Gantz and Sam Geraci are both doing the kicking and punting. Rinse and repeat.
Figuring out the return game was a more interesting question. For now, the punt returning job belongs to redshirt freshman Brayden Beard, who also will work with Green, Boone and Lewis in returning kickoffs.