Senior conversation: TE Ben Guidugli

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When Ben Guidugli arrived at the University of Cincinnati, everybody knew his name. His last name, at least. His older brother, Gino, was the starting quarterback for four years and carved out quite a following among the fan base. His act was tough to follow.


Few can deny the younger brother certainly followed. Guidugli was a three-year starter at tight end and played in two BCS Bowl games.


He has 23 passes for 194 yards and 2 touchdowns this season. Much like the team, this year has been a disappointment for Guidugli, but it doesn't mask his strong career.


Guidugli notched 7 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns last season against Illinois in one of the best games by a tight end the school has seen. He finished last season with 27 receptions for 364 yards and 3 TDs.'s Will Frasure caught up with Guidugli this week to talk about becoming a father, the NFL and his final game with the Bearcats.


Q: With this being your guys definite last week, has it been a bit surreal going out for practice on your last week?


BG: I don't think it's really hit us yet. Once that clock says 00:00 on Saturday afternoon at about 3 or 4 o'clock, then reality will set in for us. We're trying not to think about it right now. It almost feels like we'll just be back out there practicing next week like we always have. Maybe after the game and then Monday or Tuesday the next week, it'll probably start sinking it that it's actually over.


Q: So you'd say it hasn't hit you too much yet?

BG: No because we're still game-planning, watching film. We're still getting ready for the game. All those things, that's the routine we've been doing for the last four or five years. Right now, it's just the same process we go through every week going into a game.


Q: The last four years, you've gone on to play in a bowl. This year, it's obviously been tough not working toward one. What's that like not working toward one?


BG: It's definitely tough. We're the class that snapped the streak. I mean, we came in '06 and went to the International Bowl. It wasn't a great bowl, but the seniors that year, they didn't go to a bowl the year before and they were so proud to go to it. We didn't know about any BCS games when we came in. We thought the International Bowl was great. It just hurts knowing we're the class that stops that streak of going to bowls. It definitely hurts a lot.


Q: Speaking of bowls, what was it like to be a part of the program during the trips to the two BCS bowls?


BG: Definitely amazing, especially for myself since I got to play key roles in both '08 and '09. I feel like I was a part of that, along with the seniors of those years. Connor (Barwin) and them in '08 and then Tony (Pike), Mardy (Gilyard) and them last year. To be out there with those guys and help to get to those games, I think we're really proud. I can always look back and be proud of what we did those years.


Q: Obviously you haven't gotten time to reflect on it now, but when you look back in the future, you may look back and see you were a part of the rise of the UC program. How do you think you'll look back on being a part of the team during this span?


BG: The future will reveal what goes on here. Right now, I've played during the pinnacle of this program, the highest of the highs, so I'm proud of that fact, definitely.


Q: What would you say is different about yourself from the person you are now and the person that first stepped foot on campus here as a freshman?


BG: My blocking, definitely blocking in terms of what's different on the field. I came in here as a receiver and coach Dantonio moved me to fullback in his offense, so just blocking in general is what I've improved on.


Q: What about off-the-field? What's different with you personally?


BG: I have a family now, so obviously I can't be acting like the 18-year-old kid that came in here with my eyes wide-open as you begin living in the dorms and stuff. I went through all that. Now, I have my son, and that's my life right now. There's a different mindset and a different perspective right now as a fifth-year senior. I'm about to close the book on my chapter here at Cincinnati. It's the end of one part of my life and hopefully a move into another great part of my life.


Q: With Dantonio, you played fullback, and then you switched to coach Kelly. Now, you switched to coach Jones system. How have you dealt with the changing of coaches and systems?


BG: Obviously, it's never easy. The transition and change takes time. I feel like we've adapted well. This senior class that I'm going out with, we've obviously been through a lot together. We've leaned on each other for support and that's what we'll remember the most. The friendship we had with each other, the times we had together, the things like that. How we stuck together through so much change and so much stuff going on in our lives. That's what we'll reflect on the most.


Q: This year's definitely been an adverse one for you guys, how would you say you've guys have dealt with the year not going how you wanted it to go?


BG: Individually, too. I've never been hurt. I got hurt this year for the first time when I sprained my ankle pretty bad. The rehab process, watching the game from the sideline, all that was new for me. More than anything, this year has taught us perseverance and character because when things are going good, you can kick some of the bad under the rug and into a corner and hide stuff, but when things aren't all dandy, real character is revealed. I think that more than anything has come out this year, that we really do have some high character guys on this team. I love the guys I've gone through this process with. I'll never forget them


Q: Going into Saturday, with it being senior day and your last home game, how do you think you'll deal with it emotionally?


BG: Running out of that tunnel, I'm just gonna be ready to play the game to be honest with you. Obviously, we're not going to a bowl game, but for me personally and a team, we want to go out with pride and with a victory. Keep the River City Rivalry trophy here. We've got our other two rivalry trophies here with the Victory Bell and the Keg of Nails, so we want to keep this one in the case too. As a senior, we want to say we kept them all. Individually too. It's another opportunity to impress people from the NFL. Scouts turn on the film and watch this. They have some of the best defensive ends in the country, so I'm going to be getting my 1-on-1 matchups with those guys. There's a lot still at stake with this game. I'll be ready to play to be honest with you. Then maybe after I might get sad or shed a tear or something, but up until the clock says 0:00, I'm ready to beat Pitt. 

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