Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner has declared for the NFL Draft, per twitter.
Gardner — a 6’3”, 200 lb cornerback — served as a vital factor in Cincinnati’s secondary with 40 total tackles (28 solo), three sacks, three interceptions and one forced fumble in 2021. The Detroit native raked in multiple accolades on both the local and national stage, but his most profound honor is allowing zero touchdowns in over 1,000 snaps of play.
“Bearcat nation, thank you to for your support these last three years,” Gardner said via twitter. “You are the best fans in the world and I will always cherish the memories of going undefeated at Nippert Stadium and playing on the biggest stages with you cheering me on.”
As a member of the Cincinnati Bearcats, Gardner’s recognitions include All-American first team honors, unanimous AAC Defensive Player of the Year, FWAA All-America honors (twice) and a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist. The junior at UC is expected to be picked by a team in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He sports an average allowed passer rating of 26.1 — the best for a defensive player in the country — along with career totals of 99 tackles and nine interceptions.
“I want to say thank you to Ahmad and his family for everything he has poured into the University of Cincinnati and our football program,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. “He will go down as one of the greatest Bearcats ever to play here and certainly one of the most talented, accomplished and competitive players I have ever coached. ... Ahmad was an integral part of taking this program to the next level and I look forward to watching him do the same for whatever NFL team selects him this spring. Ahmad will forever be a Bearcat and I’m grateful to be his coach.”
Gardner joins a cornerback class highlighted by LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr., Clemson’s Andrew Booth Jr. and Florida’s Kaiir Elam. Coby Bryant, who assisted the projected top-20 pick in forming the nation’s top cornerback tandem, has yet to announce his official declaration for the draft.