Ever since Tommy Tuberville stepped down as head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats, we have spent quite a great deal of time celebrating and heralding the new era under Luke Fickell. Lost in all the confetti and balloons has been the fact that there were still quality players on Tuberville’s squads. It was not the fault of those players that there was shoddy play calling, uninspired recruiting or whatever else you want to point to as a flaw of the Tuberville regime.
So, as we look forward to the first Tuberville-free season since 2013, I thought it would be a worthy endeavor to remember the best players of the Tuberville era.
2013 - Silverberry Mouhon
Although Tuberville was known as an offensive mind, he struck gold in his first season with the breakout of Mouhon. The defensive end from Georgia redshirted in 2011 and played sparingly in 2012 but in 2013 he terrorized opposing backfields, racking up 12.5 tackles for loss, including 9.5 sacks as well as two forced fumbles. He tied for third in the American Athletic Conference in sacks that year and was named to the All-American Athletic Conference first team. Although he never lived up to that type of production again, 2013 was a tremendous year for Mouhon.
Honorable mentions: Ralph Abernathy IV, Eric Lefeld, Anthony McClung, Nick Temple, Greg Blair
2014 - Gunner Kiel
Kiel was one of the biggest recruiting coups of the Tuberville era. Granted, there wasn’t a ton of competition for that honor, but getting Kiel, a former five-star recruit as a transfer from Notre Dame was a big get. His first season on campus was incredible. In executing Tuberville’s pass-heavy offense better than anyone ever would with the Bearcats, Kiel threw for 3,254 yards and 31 touchdowns on 59.7 percent passing. He recorded a passer rating of 149.4 and led the AAC in touchdown passes. Like Mouhon, Kiel kind of sputtered from there, suffering from injuries in 2015 (when he still threw for 2,777 yards) and then taking a winding path away and then back to the team for 2016, when he was relegated to third string duty. Still, that first season at UC was something special.
Honorable mentions: Mike Boone, Chris Moore, Shaq Washington, Mekale McKay, Jeff Luc, Nick Temple, Leviticus Payne, Terrell Hartsfield
2015 - Zach Edwards
After winning nine games in each of Tubervill’e first two seasons, the Bearcats took a pretty big step back in 2015. Sure, going 7-6 and making a bowl game isn’t a failure, but considering the Bearcats were considered the favorites to the win the conference in the preseason, it certainly wasn’t a rousing success. There were some big playmakers on offense, but the load was really shared throughout the team. On defense, Edwards stood out as a playmaker both in terms of pass and run defense. He finished second on the team with 93 tackles and also tallied three interceptions and eight passes defended. He was an All-AAC honorable mention that season and a real leader for a team that needed a few.
Honorable mentions: Shaq Washington, Tion Green, Mike Boone, Hosey Williams, Eric Wilson, Parker Ehinger
2016 - Eric Wilson
Shockingly enough, Tuberville’s best individual players ended up being defensive contributors. Washington, Green and others certainly deserve shoutouts, but they were part of excellent position groups and did not entirely stand out from the pack all by themselves. Washington and Boone both have an argument for the 2015 recognition, but there is no arguing that Wilson was the best player for the Bearcats in Tuberville’s final year. Wilson racked up an AAC-best 129 tackles, including 7.5 for loss and a team-high 3.0 sacks. The Northwestern-transfer was a first-team all-conference honoree during a season in which UC fell flat on its face football-wise. Mike Tyson may have been the only Bearcat taken in the NFL Draft, and he was great as well, but Wilson was the heart and soul of the team and its best individual player.
Honorable mentions: Mike Tyson, Zach Edwards, Devin Gray,, Kahlil Lewis, Nate Cole