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Cortez Broughton: An Appreciation

So many of the seniors for the 2018 Cincinnati Bearcats saved their greatest season for their last and Cortez Broughton was the best of them all.

Alabama A&M v Cincinnati Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The Final Numbers

  • 155 tackles
  • 27.5 tackles for loss
  • 10.0 sacks
  • 11 passes defended
  • 1 interception

It’s always sad to see a long-time contributor take the next step in their career. That is especially true when said player puts in the type of performance that Cortez Broughton had as a senior. The defensive tackle from Warner Robins, Georgia was an absolute force on the front lines, helping the Bearcats’ defense create pressure like never before, or at least better than they had in many years. Before we dive into that special senior campaign, let’s take a stroll through Broughton’s entire career with UC.

For a guy who was named a first-team all-conference defender in 2018, Broughton wasn’t overly hyped as a recruit. A two-star prospect, Broughton arrived in UC in 2014 overshadowed by three-star guys like Kimoni Fitz, JUCO transfer Hakeem Allonce and Kevin Mouhon. In addition to fellow recruits, Broughton was going to compete with established veterans like Silverberry Mouhon, Alex Pace and Terrell Hartsfield. The competition didn’t last long, as Broughton’s first season was cut short by an injury after the first two games.

With 2014 lost to redshirting, Broughton entered 2015 with a little game experience and his sights set on putting his injury behind him. He accomplished that goal for the most part, providing real depth on the defensive line as a redshirt freshman. In 12 games played, he recorded 28 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and also made some plays on the ball, including a pass defended. Broughton always had a talent for getting his hands up at the line and batting down passes thrown too low, with 11 passes defended in his career. That’s extremely impressive for someone who spent most of his time in the trenches.

After performing fairly well in his actual debut season, Broughton played another dozen games in 2016, but this time he was a full-time starter. That 2016 season was a real breakout for Broughton, who was named a second-team All-American Athletic Conference defender in compiling 42 tackles, including 5.0 for loss and 2.5 sacks as a member of the 4-8 Bearcats. His seeming ascension to the upper echelon of defenders was one of the few bright spots of the final year of the Tommy Tuberville era and provided hope for the first of the Luke Fickell era.

Unfortunately, whether it was getting used to a new scheme or not being put in a position to succeed, Broughton regressed heavily as a junior. He tied for the lowest solo tackle total of his career (12) and fell fall short of his breakout 2016 season in overall tackles (34), tackles for loss (3.5), sacks (1.0) and passes defended (1). Such a performance led to questions about whether or not his 2016 production was for real or just a fluke.

It turned out to be neither.

Broughton didn’t just exceed his previous work in 2018, he became an entirely new player. With one year in Fickell and defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman’s system under his belt, Broughton was a devastating force up front. He started strong, with 2.5 sacks in the season-opening win against UCLA, and just kept on going. He had at least one tackle for loss in 10 of 13 games and finished the season with 17.5 total, which ranked third in the AAC and was the most in a season by a Bearcat since 2011. He also had 6.5 sacks, four quarterback hits and five (!) pass breakups. Needless to say, these were all career-highs and by a wide margin, ultimately earning him first-team all-league honors in the process.

Cincinnati v UCLA Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Best of the Best

Sept. 19, 2015 at Miami (Ohio)

During his best game of his redshirt freshman season, Broughton tallied five total tackles, including one for loss.

Oct. 29, 2016 at Temple

The best way to describe Broughton’s 2016 season is consistent. He had at least four tackles in eight games and never had more than five. Against the Owls, he produced four stops, including his first career solo sack.

Nov. 12, 2016 at UCF

In a nearly mirror image of the Temple game, at least in the final statistics, Broughton had another four tackles and a sack.

Sept. 9, 2017 at Michigan

The Bearcats had a pretty tough time in the Big House, but Broughton at least managed three tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.

Nov. 25, 2017 vs. UConn

Perhaps this was a preview of what to expect in 2018, as Broughton set a then career-high of six tackles, including one for loss, in this regular season finale.

Sept. 1, 2018 at UCLA

In his first three seasons, Broughton combined for 3.5 sacks. He matched that total in this game alone.

Sept. 8, 2018 vs. Miami (Ohio)

He may not have had a sack, but I’m sure the Bearcats were just fine with five tackles, including two more for loss.

Sept. 22, 2018 vs. Ohio University

The Bearcats rallied back for a win and Broughton played a major role, collecting six tackles, including two for loss and a sack.

Oct. 20, 2018 at Temple

This was UC’s first loss of the year but Broughton wasn’t to blame. He had four tackles, two of which went for loss, and also captured a pass breakup.

Nov. 3, 2017 vs. Navy

For the first and only time in his career, Broughton finished with double digit tackles in a single game (10).

A Final Goodbye

Before this season, Broughton’s football career seemed destined to end after graduation, but after the performance he put on as a senior, we may get to see him play on Sundays very soon. When he was playing on Saturdays, especially this last fall, he was one of the best Bearcats on the field. Even if the Bearcats had to wait until 2018 for him to reach his incredible potential, there’s no denying that his career deserves a great deal of appreciation.