Apparently, the West Coast offense has arrived at UC.
That's what it looked like Tuesday. Starting with the sun and the accommodating temperatures to the new wide receiver that last played in Compton at El Camino Community College.
He was even wearing a jersey colored sun-drenched yellow!
OK, he's not exactly from California, but he played there and it makes for a better "hook" as they say "in the biz". Kenbrell Thompkins is the highest-rated junior college receiver who played in California, but initially chose to play DI ball at Tennessee.
Then, Lane Kiffin
bolted Rocky Top for USC and Thompkins opted to take the Knoxville
bypass to Cincinnati. Now, Thompkins is on the field with a guy that
played at USC (Vidal Hazelton) and another guy from Pasadena (Armon
"Very, very excited about KT," said Butch Jones in his first post-practice comments on his latest weapon. "It's beginning stages, but you look at Day One and he comes out and I thought mental curve in terms of the functional intelligence, in terms of translating what he just learned in the classroom and taking it to the field, I thought he did a great job."
For the first day on the field, I was shocked at how often Thompkins was an active participant. Others noticed, and some didn't.
"I think he's pretty good," said Armon Binns. "He's a little raw but he's got some good speed. He's got some pretty good hands, I think he'll do good in the offense."
"Who's that?", asked Ben Guidugli when I quizzed him.
To be fair though, Guidugli knew who he was when I described him and he acknowledged the speed and talent of Thompkins. Ditto for Zach Collaros in a brief chat after practice.
Players are a little more low-key. Coaches sometimes are a little more exuberant over their hard work.
"I think he's going to add another dimension," said Jones.
I'm not sure what dimension it is, but Rod Serling worked in Cincinnati, so if it's not the "West Coast Offense" for the Bearcats, perhaps it's "The Twilight Zone".
"Submitted for your approval"....
The man responsible for perhaps the most famous catch in Bearcat history (Binns) along with one of the more physically-gifted receivers ever to be a Bearcat (Hazelton); add in a reliable threat who just makes plays (Woods) and "the nearly forgotten one" who seeks to make you remember (Barnett). Now add on a player sought after my most so-called "big name schools" (Thompkins). Wow!
Just don't let Butch Jones hear you wondering why a player would forsake "Rocky Top" for "The Nipp"....
"I view us as one of the biggest programs in the country as well," shoots back Jones. "That's what we're working toward--to be on the same stage as the others. That's our mentality. We're going to continue to recruit that way. We've got some great things to sell here in Cincinnati, it's a great city, it's got great people and great players in our program. We've been to two BCS bowl games. That's what we're selling and that's what we have to offer."
They also have a receiving corps that takes a backseat to none when you add the new additions to TE Ben Guidugli and a seemingly healthy John Goebel who could add that threat out of the backfield with Isaiah Pead. Playing time good be at a premium, but it should lead to premium scoring.
"Yeah, everybody's not going to get to play," acknowledged Binns. "But, we do a lot of four and five receiver sets, so I think everybody will get a chance to catch some balls and get some touchdowns. We'll be able to get fresh legs on the field and the 'Cats are going to know what they're doing--should be good for us."
With Binns, Hazelton and Thompkins, "California Dreamin'" right now could turn into nightmares for 12 teams on the Bearcat schedule.