The Bearcats recruiting class comprised more players from
Winning recruiting wars inside the 300-mile radius of
The unique element to the 2011 Bearcats recruiting class was the willingness to ditch the safety net. Not only did they ditch the safety net, they tossed aside one of their top recruiting tools and ventured into the midst of the SEC recruiting jungle of
The Bearcats have never succeeded in
Yet, here they were not only entering SEC territory as the Big East outsider with no recent track record in the state, but coming away with four recruits from
The Bearcats grabbed 10 players from
"It was a priority," Butch Jones said. "They have great high school football down there, great coaching as well. We wanted to make that an area of emphasis."
For the 2010 season, Florida and Georgia both ranked in the top five for most players from their state in the NFL, along with Texas, California and Ohio.
Establishing a foothold in those prominent areas means throwing punches with the big boys of the sport. The Bearcats aren't in a position where top RB Isaiah Crowell would be on ESPNU pulling a bearcat cub onto his podium instead of a bulldog puppy representing his
The days of living and dying by the depth of
"We got a great product here," recruiting coordinator and co-defensive coordinator Jon Jancek said. "When they have an opportunity to get up here and show them the opportunity and them meeting with people they are going to be surrounded by creates a lot of excitement in their minds."
Jancek deserves credit for facilitating the excitement. Many of the connections were made as a result of his time as an assistant at the
Chisum spearheaded the northern migration last summer as the first to commit and the other four seemed to feed off of his move, according to Jones.
"We got such great reception when we brought the kids up on our campus," Jancek said. "Every time we went down to a school down there we were very well received. It was a great situation."
Jones also credited running backs coach Jahmile Addae, who grew up in the area of Tampa, Fla., for establishing connections with recruits like WR Chris Moore, QB Stephen Weatherford and DL Chad Hannah, all from the area.
"You go where you trust the coaches," Jones said. He was also referring OL Parker Ehringer from Rockford HS in
Considering the track record of the southern states, the percentages of finding schools that provide Rockford-type production only go up. That means the Bearcats program will also, or so Jones and his staff hope.
"Our base will always be the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, basically a 300-mile radius," Jones said. "We really made some inroads in the state of