- 25 tackles (eight solo, 17 assisted)
- 1 sack
- 2.5 tackles for loss
- 1 forced fumble
As a junior defensive end, Mark Wilson was one of the many players tasked with improving Cincinnati’s sorry pass rush in 2016. In 2015, the team accumulated all of 13 sacks and Wilson was given plenty of chances to help improve on that number, playing in all 12 games and starting in six this past season. Its difficult to say Wilson really had a major impact on the pass rush, since he only finished with one sack and 2.5 tackles for loss, down from two and 5.5 the year before. However, he set a career-high in tackles (25), often chased quarterbacks out of the pocket and also forced and recovered a fumble while recording the rare pass defended from the defensive line.
Wilson’s production may not have boosted up all that much, but he has proven to be a durable contributor to the UC defense, which will be getting a major face lift in 2017 under head coach Luke Fickell, new defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman and new defensive line coach Al Washington. Along with playing 12 games in 2016, Wilson appeared in 12 in 2015 and got into nine games in 2014 after redshirting in 2013.
The former two-star recruit may not be a centerpiece of Fickell and Freeman’s defensive renaissance, but he will certainly be leaned on to consistently work in the trenches.
The Best of the Best
Sept 15 vs. Houston
The 6’3” Virginian recorded a career-high eight tackles, including one for loss, and also forced a fumble in the Bearcats 40-16 loss to the Cougars.
Oct. 8 vs. UConn
Both defenses dominated in this contest, and Wilson helped in a big way for the Bearcats, racking up his only sack of the season.
Oct. 22 vs. East Carolina
Although he did not tally many tackles for loss in this one, he was instrumental in stopping ball carriers near the line, finishing with six total tackles.
For Next Year
In order for Wilson to become more than just a piece in the rotation, he needs to be more successful when it comes to rushing the passer and shedding blocks to stop runners in the backfield. It will be interesting to see if such improvements will be made, nay, demanded under Fickell, Freeman and Washington. At the very worst, Wilson should continue to be a reliable contributor and a masher up front.