We are off and running with the Favorite Cincinnati Bearcat Football Player Since 1997 Tournament, with the matchups of the first round of the Brian Kelly region already out in the wild getting votes. But there are more than just 16 players that are in this tournament, so its time to start voting on the second region, named for Mark Dantonio, who was the head coach of the Bearcats from 2004 to 2006. Here is a look at the the region.
Terrell Hartsfield vs. Terrill Byrd
Its the battle of the similar soundingfirst names. Hartsfield had 9.0 sacks in 2014, which was a breakout year for the defensive lineman. He also had 12.0 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries and he even scored a defensive touchdown. He was named an All-American Athletic Conference first-team member for that work.
Byrd played nearly a decade before Hartsfield and had a long career, finishing sixth in program history in tackles for loss (42.0). He also is eighth in career sacks by a Bearcat (16.5) and was a All-Big East performer twice.
Derek Wolfe vs. Demarco McCleskey
Wolfe, the 2011 co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year, recorded 19.5 sacks in his career, which ranks fourth in program history. He is one of the few Bearcats to still be cashing a check in the NFL, as he has 24.5 career sacks for the Denver Broncos.
Nobody in UC history has scored as many touchdowns as McCleskey (41), who is also second in career rushing yards for the Bearcats (3,487 yards).
Walter Stewart vs. JK Schaffer
This region is clearly filled with some great pass rushers. Stewart is the latest we’re talking about. He is ninth in sacks in program history (17.5) and a former team captain. Stewart played on the same defense as Schaffer from 2008 to 2011, with Schaffer racking up 337 total tackles in his career, which ranks 10th in program history, while being named the team’s best linebacker in 2010 and 2011.
Jordan Stepp vs. Marquise Copeland
I swear I didn’t just pick defensive linemen for this region on purpose. Stepp was a first-team All-AAC member in 2013 after accumulating 6.0 sacks and 8.0 tackles for loss. It was an excellent senior season for him, as he improved in multiple statistical categories.
Copeland still has work to do if he hopes to match Stepp’s career, as he is coming off a fine 2017 campaign (8.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks), but nowhere near as a productive a season as Stepp’s senior one.
Kevin Huber vs. Kenbrell Thompkins
The best punter in school history, Huber was a finalist for the 2008 Ray Guy Award and UC’s 2007 special teams player of the year as wells as a two-time All-American. He has carried that success into the NFL, where he was a Pro Bowler in 2014 for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Thompkins also played in the NFL, earning time with the New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders and New York Jets. He amassed 1,077 yards and four touchdowns on 78 receptions in college.
Dominick Goodman vs. Cortez Broughton
Broughton was a breakout star for the 2016 Bearcats, putting together a nice bit of work at defensive tackle, including an interception. However, he took a step backward last season, but there is still time to end on a high note.
Goodman played for Cincinnati from 2005 to 2008 and was an excellent wideout and kickoff returner. He led the Bearcats in receiving for three-straight seasons (2006-2008) and is sixth in career all-purpose yards for UC.
Chris Moore vs. Gunner Kiel
These guys were teammates. What’s more, Kiel threw passes to Moore. Kiel will always be remembered for his sensational 2014 campaign when he threw for 3,254 yards and 31 touchdowns, but he never found that magic again, even if he was very good in 2015 as well. Moore spent a lot of time as a second (or third and fourth) fiddle to Shaq Washington, but he still had 2,301 yards and 26 touchdowns on 119 career receptions.
Alex Pace vs. Max Morrison
Speaking of second fiddles to Washington, Morrison was another, although like Moore he still carved out a nice little niche for himself, tallying 1,522 yards and 10 scores on 126 career receptions over three years. He is 10th in all-time receptions by a Bearcat.
Pace steadily improved during his career, raising his tackle for loss total in each of his four years. He finished with 13.5, including a career-best 6.0 in 2016.
Now that you’ve gotten a feel for the matchups, its time to vote.