There are four quarterbacks on the roster for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Only one of them has thrown a collegiate pass. His name is Hayden Moore. You might have heard of him. If you haven’t, well then you should know that he is one of the 82 best quarterbacks in college football. After Moore, there is potential, with freshmen Ben Bryant and Desmond Ridder both ready for their first season at UC while Jake Sopko is entering his sophomore year. The Bearcats also had Ross Trail before spring practice, but he was released in April.
So there you have it. A quarterback situation with a bit more clarity now that Trail is not breathing down Moore’s neck for the starting job, but one that is also rather shallow and without a guy that has shown he can be a consistently effective starter. Moore did set career-highs in completions (239), passing yards (2,562) and touchdown passes (20) last season, but he completed a career-low 56.4 percent of his pass attempts, averaged only 6.0 yards per throw and producing a QB rating of 118.4. At best, you could have described him as passable, but he certainly wasn’t the captain of a high-powered passing attack.
But maybe the Bearcats could be getting a new arm to rely on very soon. Joe Burrow, who has been a backup at Ohio State, will be transferring away from Columbus and the Bearcats were one of the first teams given the go-ahead to contact the signal caller. From the moment Burrow said he would be transferring, questions swirled about the idea of him coming to UC. That’s something that’s going to be commonplace with Luke Fickell, the former Buckeye defensive coordinator and now the head coach for the Bearcats. Regardless of his relationship (or lack thereof) with Burrow (or any Buckeye for that matter), the fact that UC is coached by a guy with Columbus roots could be a selling point.
Burrow does not just want to go from backing up J.T. Barrett and competing for a starting gig this spring to filling a similar role. He wants to play. Now. Due to the fact that he would be eligible immediately, that means the team he picks will have to have a spot open for him. Moore isn’t too bad and Bryant and Ridder are both intriguing prospects, but as Fickell looks to build on a 4-8 first season, it couldn’t hurt to bring in a guy with Burrow’s pedigree. A four-star quarterback during his recruiting process, Burrow was ranked the No. 10 prospect out of Ohio in the 2015 class and he flashed some fine skills in limited time with Ohio State. He averaged 7.4 yards per attempt and threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns (zero interceptions), while completing 74.4 percent of his throws. Granted, he only played in 10 games and had 39 pass attempts, including a grand total of 11 last season, but those numbers are a promising foundation.
Just having an OSU connection and a need to upgrade at quarterback does not mean the Bearcats are necessarily front runners for Burrow’s services. However, the fact that UC is going to get a chance to recruit him before most teams and potentially get two seasons from him means this is a pairing that could very well come to fruition. If it does, the Bearcats will have upgraded at quarterback significantly, at the very least from a depth perspective, which is something they’ve needed to do for the last few seasons.
It seems UC is very much in contention. Burrow stated that he wants to make a decision in a matter of weeks. Such a short turnaround would lead you to believe he isn’t going to visit programs he isn’t interested in.