One of the most important coaching decisions Luke Fickell made last season for the Cincinnati Bearcats was putting Desmond Ridder under center just a few snaps into the opener against UCLA. Ridder not only went on to lead the Bearcats to a victory in that game, he was the starting signal caller for an 11-win team and collected the American Athletic Conference’s rookie of the year award. After Fickell decided to give Ridder a shot, the soon-to-be redshirt sophomore claimed the job as his own, marking a swift rise from quarterback of the future to quarterback of the now. He will likely retain that role until his UC career ends.
But what do the Bearcats do after Ridder? That question may have just been answered with the commitment of Evan Prater for the 2020 recruiting class.
Prater is a three-star recruit and a Cincinnati native who is considered the No. 12 prospect in the state of Ohio by 247Sports. He made his commitment on Thursday, eschewing the possibility of playing at more than 20 other schools besides UC, including Michigan State, Miami (Florida) and Georgia Tech. As if that wasn’t enough, Prater’s brother Garyn will be joining him with the Bearcats, as the former Ohio State wide receiver announced his commitment on Thursday as well.
These commitments add even more talent to a 2020 class that had already shown tremendous potential, ranking first in the AAC and 40th nationally, according to 247Sports. But it also does more than that. This is once again proof that Fickell and his staff know how to recruit in Ohio and how to ensure that the best players in the region want to play for UC. It also shows that Fickell is thinking beyond next season and the season after that. With Ridder, the Bearcats are already pretty well set at quarterback and Prater’s commitment certainly won’t change that. He won’t be on campus until 2020 after all.
However, this puts into motion the next stage of the Bearcats’ evolution. Prater is a quarterback who can throw and run, just like Ridder. He will likely be asked to do both in UC’s offensive system which we’ve already seen places a heavy emphasis on the ground game, both with running backs and quarterbacks.
We still have a while to wait before Prater will get a chance to line up under center for the Bearcats. In the meantime, the program will be in more than capable hands with Ridder. For a program that struggled for a few years to find the answer at quarterback, this is a nice change of pace.