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Cincinnati Bearcats Football Position Preview: Secondary

Houston v Cincinnati Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Yes. The Cincinnati Bearcats lost a pair of starters from last year’s secondary.

Yes. They still have the best secondary in the country.

Yes. They have the best pair of corners in college football. Ahmad Gardner is the best cover-man in the college game and Coby Bryant, who earned All-AAC honors last season, would be the best defensive back in most other conferences.

In 2020, Gardner was named to virtually every All-American team in college football. Virtually every opponent the Bearcats faced chose to throw the ball the other way.

Cornerback Coby Bryant is an elite defender and tackler despite his small stature. Several weeks ago, he was named this week to the 2021 Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy watchlist. Bryant, who exemplifies the Bearcat ethos of success both on and off the field, was selected for the watchlist because of these attributes. The Lott IMPACT award honors played who excel on the field and are also superstars in their community.

Yes. The back end of Cincinnati’s secondary is going to look a little bit different. But not that different.

Both new starters will be seniors and both starters are veterans of many big games.

Ja’Von Hicks was a full-time starter at safety in 2019, demonstrating legitimate skills as a ball hawk. He picked off an AAC-leading five passes that season but fell behind the remarkable James Wiggins in 2020 on the Bearcats’ depth chart.

Cincinnati’s other starting safety for 2021, Bryan Cook, got significant action in both 2017 and 2018 at Howard before transferring to Cincinnati. He started two games for the Bearcats last season and demonstrated himself to be a solid tackler.