The Cincinnati Bearcats had a rather talented collection of linebackers last season. This year’s group returns largely intact although that doesn’t mean there aren’t at least a few players to replace. However, there are also plenty of reinforcements to help when the time calls for it. Here’s a look at who the Bearcats have said goodbye to and who they will rely on this season and in the future at linebacker.
Malik Clements wasn’t always a linebacker for the Bearcats but when he made the change it was as if he was always meant to play the position. Clements led UC in tackles as a senior (68), including 7.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. His history in the secondary was on display as well, as he had four pass breakups. A 12-game starter, Clements leaves a lot of playing time for the Bearcats to allocate. In addition, Ty Sponseller might not have had as great an impact as Clements, but he still had 1.5 sacks last season and the Bearcats will be without him now that he has left for Elon.
The list of returning linebackers runs the gamut from certified stars to players just looking for their chance. On the former side of the equation, Perry Young, Jarell White and Bryan Wright are the most productive returning players. Young dealt with some injury issues last season but played so well in eight games that the American Athletic Conference had no choice but to put him on the all-league first team. He may have had only 45 tackles last year, but in 2017 he surpassed the century mark and if he stays healthy this season, he’ll get there again easily.
White (58 tackles) and Wright (55 tackles) were ranked second and third, respectively, on the team in tackles and both will be tasked with maintaining that level of production. Wright has also established himself as one of the most effective pass rushers on the roster. He collected five sacks last season which is the highest total among any returning player. White is entering his junior season and the expectation is that after starting the final five games of the campaign, he is ready to take the step to stardom.
Some other familiar faces on the roster include Joel Dublanko (27 tackles), RJ Potts (11 tackles), Ty Van Fossen (one appearance) and Kyle Bolden (two tackles). They all played sparingly last season but could be in for promotions in 2019. In addition, Ryan Royer enters his sophomore season, Mick Oakes has converted from tight end to linebacker and Nate Lawler and DeMarco Baker are both redshirt freshmen, although Baker wasn’t technically listed on the final 2018 roster but was on the 2017 roster.
The Bearcats have also added plenty of players to help in the immediate future and in the years to follow. Darrian Beavers (UConn) and TInashe Bere (Duke) are both graduate transfer students with experience playing at the collegiate level. Beavers tallied 38 tackles and seven sacks across two seasons with the Huskies while Bere dominated as a freshman in 2015 (58 tackles, 4.5 for loss) but has not gotten much playing time since.
As for brand new players, Dorian Holloway and Brody Ingle are both three-star recruits and Jackson Bruscianelli and Grant Horvath will both be true freshmen as well.