One day the NCAA Football video game franchise by EA Sports will return. There is just too much money to be made for there not to eventually be a return, although there will obviously be large legal and financial obstacles to get there. If we hire Bill Connelly as the first ever college football commissioner, it will happen sooner rather than later.
This topic has got me thinking about the 2017 Cincinnati Bearcats and how much I would love to take control of a virtual Luke Fickell-run roster. That then led me to start wondering what current UC players would rank in EA’s player rating system.
For those that do not know, each player is rated on a scale from one to 99 based on a deep dive of factors, such as speed and break tackle for running backs. For each version of the game, and the Madden franchise, you can usually guess at some of the ratings. Tom Brady will be a 99 as the cover athlete this season and you can bet players like Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and J.J. Watt will be in the high 90s as well. But what about the college game?
Lamar Jackson is an easy pick as a 99, but what about the Bearcats? Sure, they definitely don’t have a player rated as high as Jackson would be, but it would still be cool to look at the roster through this digital lens. So let’s take a stab at rating some of the bigger names on the team.
Hayden Moore, QB - 74
Moore has the potential to be much better than this, but his interception issues and lack of elite accuracy would drag him down. Still, I’d expect our fictional game to have Moore rated in the zone reserved for solid, but not exceptional contributors.
Ross Trail, QB - 69
Trail would get excellent marks in arm strength and would help his status with his mobile ability, but his problems with pocket awareness and accuracy would make plant him firmly in a backup role.
Mike Boone, RB - 83
If 2016 was the only season on record, then Boone would probably fall into the low 70s, but his big plays from 2014 and 2015 will give him a boost. High acceleration and break tackle would make for a solid rating for this year’s feature back.
Devin Gray, WR - 78
Fresh off his breakout season, Gray would get big points in the route running and catching categories but his lack of big play ability and the fact that he plays for a 4-8 squad would be what keeps him from a flashier number.
Kahlil Lewis, WR - 75
Like Gray, Lewis had a very good 2016 season, but not an elite one. Lewis probably has the spectacular catch and speed edge on Gray, but he had more drops so he’s probably one of those receivers with a 90 speed, but not exceptional catching ratings.
Ryan Stout, OL - 80
Stout started in 12 games last season and was a stalwart on the offensive line. That solid track record makes him a nice piece for your roster, but not a game-changing lineman.
Korey Cunningham, OL - 80
Cunningham falls into the same area as Stout, as he was also a 12-game starter who didn’t do many things wrong but also didn’t do anything exceptional. Both would probably get better ratings in pass blocking than run blocking.
Cortez Broughton, DT - 72
Broughton was second on the team in sacks last season, but with only 2.5 that’s not saying all that much. He’d probably get a decent rating in power moves and strength but needs better work on awareness and play recognition.
Marquise Copeland, DE - 71
Copeland did not start in any game last season, but showed very brief flashes of devastating ability. Considering his higher ceiling, he may be given the benefit of the doubt and rated a bit more solidly than you’d expect.
Kimoni Fitz, DE - 74
With a career-high 37 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2016, Fitz would get a big jump from his 2015 rating, which would probably have been in the 50s.
Kevin Mouhon, LB - 85
A team-high 9.5 tackles for loss and a sack make Mouhon a player to keep an eye on in 2016. I’d expect high marks in play recognition, block shedding and tackling and a surprisingly high rating.
Jaylyin Minor, LB - 67
Minor needs to be much better than this rating would indicate, but until he proves it, he’s just another fill-in linebacker by video game standards.
Alex Thomas, CB - 78
What Thomas lacked in tackling ability he’ll make up for with catching and zone coverage work. The top returning player in terms of interceptions (four) will be rated nicely for his turnover work alone.
Linden Stephens, CB - 82
Although Stephens may not have created as many miscues, he would get better marks in zone and man coverage, pursuit, agility and overall pass defense, as he led the team in pass deflections (seven) while still snagging two picks in 2016.
Tyrell Gilbert, S - 79
An injury cost Gilbert some time last year and will weigh down his rating a bit. However, there is no arguing with his 40 tackles and three interceptions, which would equate to a solid rating.
Perry Young, NB - 75
Young had a promising freshman campaign but its too early to anoint him a star. So he would fall into the grab bag of mid 70s rated players who could be in the high 80s or low 60s by 2018.
Sam Geraci, P - 71
Geraci averaged 40 yards per punt last season, which is highly average, just like his rating.
Andrew Gantz, K - 77
Gantz has been a very good kicker through his three years with UC. However, an injury kept him out most of last year and will make his rating plummet some.