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Returning Player Refresher: Kimoni Fitz

Fitz played well down the stretch in 2016 and will try to build on that.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Kimoni Fitz has not had to wait to play for the Cincinnati Bearcats. He has been in game action from the beginning of his freshman season and last year developed into a starting level talent. It’s no wonder considering he was a fairly valued prospect for the 2015 class. He was ranked as the No. 41 prospect in all of Virginia and a three-star defensive end.

In his first season, he played in 11 games but was used extremely sparingly, accumulating only 15 total tackles. However, even in that short time he showed that he was adept at getting into the backfield quickly, with 1.5 tackles for loss. Getting the 6’3”, 255-pound defensive end into games early on was a brilliant move, as it gave Fitz a chance to experience play at the collegiate level while seeing what he had to offer. That move will hopefully pay dividends with the new coaching regime. It already started to under Tommy Tuberville, especially last season as Fitz’s role expanded.

A brilliant start to the season boosted Fitz’s standing on the roster, as he accumulated four tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and a sack in the perilous season opener against Tennessee-Martin. He still was kept away from the starting lineup after such a strong showing but as the year progressed, he forced his way toward the top of the depth chart. He ended up playing in all 12 games and made seven starts. When he was given the chance, he produced, with 17 tackles in the team’s last four games and at least four tackles in four games, including a season-high of six against BYU.

When all was said and done, Fitz wound up with 37 total tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. It was obviously not an all-conference kind of stat line, but if you read between the lines, it is a line that hints toward promise.

Fitz will be tasked with making good on that promise as a junior and he should be given every chance to do so, even if the line to play defensive end may be stretching around the block.