A Very Deep Group
Welcome to round four of Down the Drive’s offensive position previews. We hope you’ve enjoyed our first few episodes and stick around as we start to shift into early look-ins for games.
Today’s edition features a star-studded wide receiver core that returns almost all of its production. The group has been subject to a few bumps and issues under Luke Fickell’s tenure thus far, but improvement remains imminent on the horizon. And while they do have a few problems to clean up on, there’s no shortage of interesting personalities and traits in this bunch.
The best part about this year’s wide receiver core is the overwhelming amount of returning fourth year players. There’s Alec Pierce, Alec Pierce aanndd... uhhh... Alec Pierce.
Okay, so not the best start, but don’t worry. There’s still a silver lining in this all.
Pierce qualifies as a clear cut No. 1 receiver, and bringing him back after injury will be huge for Desmond Ridder and the rest of UC’s offense.
The incoming senior compiled big stats during his sophomore season in 2019-37 receptions for 652 yards and two touchdowns-and captured the job as a starter for the Bearcats. He’s shown to be pretty versatile and possesses the ability to play all aspects of the field in big moments.
It’s seemingly becoming a trend at this point for players and coaches to transfer between Cincinnati and Notre Dame.
First it was Brian Kelly. Then went former defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman.
There’s also the graduate transfer, Michael Young Jr., who took switching schools in the opposite order of Kelly and Freeman. The 5-foot-10, 195 pound explosive receiver first began his career in South Bend with the Irish, totaling three catches for 159 yards in 16 games. However, two seasons of underwhelming playing time and stats saw him transfer to the Buckeye state.
Then in Cincinnati during the 2020 campaign, Young Jr. earned the starting WR job for the Bearcats with 29 receptions for 332 yards and a touchdown. He finished as second all team AAC and is expected to continue his tenure as one of UC’s top receivers in 2021.
Tre Tucker clocks in as the final starter at receiver for the Bearcats. He plays in the slot-and like Michael Young Jr.-is a real speedster on the field.
The 5-foot-10 Buckeye state native compiled 18 receptions for 236 yards and three touchdowns during last year’s performance.
He also totaled a plethora of stats in the kick return game, where he earned Second-Team All-AAC honors and recorded 13 returns for 389 yards and one TD. 2019 saw him do a bit of the same but to a lesser extent, owning the title of Cinci’s main kick returner and reeling in seven receptions for 92 yards.
There are three things that are universally hated among group of five teams: rivals, the college football playoff committee and the SEC.
Sorry ESPN, but Greg Sankey really doesn’t have many fans among the little guys. We speak for just about every non-SEC program when we say that the dominance of the perennial super-conference gets tiring every now and then. We’d rather see Cincinnati or a UCF (Yes, we are this desperate as Bearcat fans) make a run for it all.
That being said, Cincinnati certainly won’t mind taking aboard any of the conference’s former players. Especially when it comes to guys like Jordan Jones.
The graduate transfer out of Arkansas kicked off his college career with the SEC’s beloved Razorbacks, registering 37 catches for 593 yards and four touchdowns across 22 games in three seasons. He then graduated from the university with a Bachelor’s degree in communication.
Wanting to continue his aspirations of playing football, Jones transferred to UC and played with the Bearcats during their 2020 campaign. He made a few big catches and should be good to go for another big showing come 2021.
Jadon Thompson serves as that guy who really hasn’t managed to harness his full potential yet. Don’t get us wrong, he can perform very well. It’s just that he’s not quite at the highest capability possible.
The 6-foot-2, 175 pound talent finished as the fifth highest rated player in the state of Illinois during the 2019 recruiting cycle and qualified as a four star recruit.
He first signed with the Bearcats in early 2020 and now enters his true sophomore season, coming off a freshman year in which he participated in six games and registered six receptions for 58 yards.
Tyler Scott happens to be one of the many guys on Cincinnati’s roster who could fill into just about any position and find some success.
247 sports listed the versatile player as a general athlete due to his ability to participate at multiple positions, including running back, in which he rushed for 1300+ yards as a senior in high school.
He really hasn’t done much at UC thus far, but potential certainly lurks on the horizon for the underclassman receiver.
Other Notable Names: Marquez Bell, Will Pauling and Drew Donley
Congratulations! If you made it this far, it means you’re probably interested in learning a bit about the new guys. There’s plenty of up-and-coming raw talent, with the likes of Marquez Bell, Will Pauling and Drew Donley leading the way. Anyway, here’s the overview:
Marquez Bell signed with Cincinnati in early 2020. The 6-foot-1, 180 pound Florida native finished as a three star prospect and top 110 player in the Sunshine state. He captured offers from multiple notable programs including Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas A&M and UCF.
A 5-foot-10 freshman out of Illinois, Will Pauling committed to the Bearcats in April of 2020. He came out of high school as a three star recruit and is said to have very impressive route-running/awareness for an incoming true freshman.
Let’s just get this straight: Drew Donley is fast. Like, wicked fast. Not just football player fast, but much better than normal star track athlete fast.
The Frisco, Texas, resident has registered multiple 100 meter times in under 11 seconds. He’s received national attention from southeastern programs such as Ole Miss (which he originally committed to) and Georgia.
Oh, and he’s good on the gridiron, too. The speedster received a ranking as a top 200 player in the competitive state of Texas. His biggest season came as a junior when he snagged 45 catches for 641 yards and eight TDs.
With the air now fully covered, fans of Down the Drive can look forward to a preview of the offensive line, followed by the start of early looks at games.