It might have been the biggest catch in the history of UC football. At Heinz Field early last December, Armon Binns hauled in a Tony Pike pass that pretty much wrapped up UC's Big East championship and a trip to the Sugar Bowl. (Of course, it was the extra point by Jake Rogers that put the Bearcats up 44-43, but conversions aren't nearly as exciting as diving grabs in the endzone!)
On the receiving end of that pass was #80, Armon Binns. Flash forward to the beginning of spring practice under new coach Butch Jones and you see the difference between the low-key Binns and the high energy of Mardy Gilyard. Gilyard would probably give you a five-minute description of that highly emotional catch. Binns pretty much shrugs it off.
"Believe it or not, I've forgot about that catch altogether," said Binns.
I'll play along. Focus forward.
Now, Binns takes the place of Gilyard as the elder statesman of the receiving group. He went from a role player in the background to a guy that benefited from double coverages on Gilyard. He excelled so much, that defenses later in the year were doubling him.
With Gilyard off to the pros, Binns could see more double coverage again. Armed with lessons from Gilyard though, Binns is ready for whatever the opposition has.
"It showed me how to work and how to be confident," said Binns of his past time with Mardy. "It showed me how to put yourself in position to be a draft pick and someone who plays at the next level."
Don't look for Binns to grow the reggae hair with beads. That was Gilyard, Binns is a completely different person.
"That's not really my style," said Binns. "I'm going to joke around here and there, but Mardy's a flamboyant guy and that's why we love him."
Exit Gilyard and it's Binns and D.J. Woods back hauling down footballs at a rapid pace. Plus, there's the USC transfer that some may have forgotten in Vidal Hazelton. After sitting out his mandatory year, some believe Hazelton could be as productive as Gilyard. Binns, like Hazelton is from California.
"Vidal's been really anxious and he's been working really hard this winter," said Binns. "He's got that hunger that we all need to have to be the best we can be. We just talk about being the best receiving corps in the country. We talk about all three of us making plays, scoring touchdowns and being guys that DBs worry about."
Three Amigos. Tres Hombres. Whatever you want to call them, it should be a triple-threat much like last season's threesome. You double one, the other two get you. You double more than one and look out for Isaiah Pead or Zach Collaros coming right up the gut in the open field.
Butch Jones really has more weapons than the hunting section at Dick's.
"Definitely," said Binns. "We feel that we should improve. We've got a good quarterback in Zach. He's got experience and he's going to distribute the ball all around--should be a lot of catches."
That's the plan at least.
The only thing that may stop Binns and the Bearcats from lighting up the scoreboard at Nippert at this point is burnt-out bulbs.