If you were to name the best players on the roster for the Cincinnati Bearcats, you’re list would probably include Perry Young, Jarell White, Kahlil Lewis, Gerrid Doaks and a few others.
Picking the best is easy. They make the most plays, have the best statistics and get the most attention. A more difficult, and sometimes rewarding exercise, is trying to figure out the players who will go from obscurity to stardom, or at least close to it relative to the team they are on. With college sports having constant roster turnover built into them, there will always bee a need for players to step up and fill the shoes of a player who was once a critical contributor but has since graduated or entered the professional ranks. There is also a need for players to step up and fill roles that were poorly serviced in prior years. These are those players.
Michael Warren II
I’m bending the rules a bit here since Warren was actually a pretty important piece of the offensive puzzle last year. Still, he was the third string running back and with Mike Boone gone and Gerrid Doaks coming off an injury, Warren is going to get a lot more playing time. If what he did last year is any indication (324 yards, 6.0 YPC), more playing time is going to equate to a whole lot of production.
In 2016 it was Devin Gray. In 2017 it was Thomas Geddis. A third wide receiver has consistently made his presence felt in the UC offense. (And I’ve hit on picking who it would be twice). Medaris is entering his junior season with UC and to this point he has produced very little. He redshirted in 2016 and appeared in only five games last year, with his campaign ended by an injury. Now fully healthy, Medaris is one of a few wideouts who will be competing for the No. 3 job behind Lewis and Geddis. According to Tom Groeschen of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Medaris has the inside track at the post and that could lead to big things.
As the Bearcats build out their secondary, there is a need for improved play at safety and Forrest could provide just that. The 6’0, 198-pound sophomore was a three-star recruit and has already made an impact on the field, even if it has gone largely unnoticed. He appeared in 12 games for the Bearcats last year, doing most of his work on special teams. He wasn’t just limited to special teams play, accumulating five total tackles while getting playing time against Michigan, Navy and USF.
James Wiggins is another safety that could be on here because its not going to be long before his name is mentioned by more than a few college football insiders.
We still don’t know just how much Vann will play but it appears likely that he is going to get some chances early on. The four-star prospect could help give the Bearcats a boost in the pass rush, which they desperately need and after headlining the best recruiting class for the program in years, it only makes sense that he would be tested right away. Based on his potential, if he gets those chances, then he will excel.
You might be thinking, “How does an offensive lineman break out?” That’s a tough question to answer, but Campbell is a holdover from an offensive line that was rather good last year and lost a number of starters. The 6’5”, 315-pound senior will anchor the line this year and if it remains as effective (or even gets better), than we’ll have Campbell to thank. Those thanks could come with some all-conference honors and that alone would be enough to solidify breakout status for a player who was a backup prior to 2017.