After last Wednesday’s eventful National Signing Day, the majority opinion was that Luke Fickell nailed it. In fact, a number of outlets now have the Cincinnati Bearcats with the No. 1 recruiting class in the American Athletic Conference. It has now been a little more than a week since NSD, when 20 players signed National Letters of Intent and three players enrolled, so it seems like a perfect time to take a look at how the new recruits meet needs for the Bearcats. We’ll take a look at the offense today.
Perhaps the biggest name in UC’s recruiting pool comes at this position (as well as wide receiver) as former Ohio State Buckeye and former four-star recruit Torrance Gibson signed last week. Gibson is a dual-threat not just because he could also play receiver but because he can throw and run. That could be a major help for UC’s new offense as Luke Fickell has said he wants to play fast and new offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock has a history working with mobile quarterbacks.
The same can be said of Desmond Ridder. Although the two-star prospect is not as highly valued as Gibson, his dual-threat ability could make him a player to watch in years to come.
UC currently has four quarterbacks on its roster, including another former four-star recruit. However, Ross Trail and Hayden Moore didn’t exactly impress in 2016, and Sam Fette and Jake Sopko have some proving to do, so it is very possible that all of these players will have to fight for the starting job along with the new additions.
With Tion Green leaving, the Bearcats are pretty desperate for some running back depth. Mike Boone is a fine No. 1 back to have, but when the backup is Chad Banschbach, something’s not right. Joshuwa Holloman, Taylor Boose, and redshirt freshmen Gerrid Doaks and Hunter Gillespie are there for depth, of course, but having more backs to work with can’t hurt.
Enter a pair of three-star recruits named Jaelen Greene and Michael Warren. Greene has already enrolled and Warren, who originally committed to Toledo, was Ohio’s Mr. Football. The two bring a lot of talent to a corp of running backs that will need it.
Even though not everyone on the roster is a household name, UC is actually in very good position at this, uh, position. Kahlil Lewis and Devin Gray both enjoyed breakout years in 2016 even as the offense stumbled and the quarterback play wavered week to week. That doesn’t even mention the players who showed flashes of greatness like Thomas Geddis, Tshumbi Johnson, Avery Johnson and Jerron Rollins.
That means that signees Trent Cloud and Javan Hawes, despite both being three-star recruits, may have to wait a bit before they are lining up regularly. However, its good to see that Fickell and his staff didn’t just sit on their laurels and went out and got some playmakers who can catch the ball.
Wil Huber was the only commit in this year’s class at tight end. It is an area UC has not always valued, but that may change under the new regime. Tyler Cogswell is the clear frontrunner to be the starter, while Huber will join in with the current backups, who include Josiah Deguara, Jake Elfers, Bruno Labelle and Doug Bates.
You can never have enough offense lineman. UC will have plenty to choose from next season, even if it did lose some players to graduation. Offensive tackle was the position most helped, with Blake Yager and Cody Lamb, who both enrolled already, as well as Vincent McConnell projecting to play in that spot. In addition, Jakari Robinson will be an addition at center. With 16 offensive lineman already on the roster, there will too many mouths to feed to expect any of these newcomers to make a huge impact right away, but that depth will help forge them and prepare them to contribute in a year or two.
UC’s offense was pretty terrible last season so it was good to see the defensive minded Fickell still get a number of exciting offensive recruits, particularly Gibson and Warren. Gibson especially projects to fill a need, whereas Warren could very well be No. 2 on the depth chart next season. As for the rest of the offensive recruits, it may be a while before they have their numbers are called, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important additions.