Dinner with the Bearcats 1.31.12

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By Chris Gundrum

Special to GoBearcats.com

Although the last of the college football games have been played, awards have been presented and the BCS Champions have been crowned, there is still one day that has fans waiting with bated breath--Signing Day.

Tomorrow UC Head Coach Butch Jones will announce the 2012 signing class and leave Bearcat football enthusiasts debating over who the future stars of the gridiron will be.

To some, the list of commits will be no surprise. Those fans have been keeping a watchful eye on message boards and recruiting websites, maybe even probing an inside source for info on a local player or two.

For them, Signing Day will only be confirmation of their "insider knowledge."                                                     

Others, however, will be viewing the list of signees for the first time.

Regardless of how long you've been following a recruit or how much information you may think you know, the one question fans will consistently as is--how many stars is he rated?

Yet, one thing fans need to keep in mind is that those rating systems mean squat when it comes to projecting a player's future.

For example, consider these former Bearcats who received low ratings or no ratings at all coming out of high school and are currently playing in the NFL:

Punter Kevin Huber, class of 2004- Not rated by any scouting website. Led college football in net punting average in both 2007 and '08 and won the national punting title in 2007. Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Offensive Lineman Jeff Linkenbach, class of 2005- Not rated by any scouting website. Signed with the Indianapolis Colts in 2010 as an undrafted free agent. He is currently listed as their starting right tackle.

Linebacker Connor Barwin, class of 2005- Rated an average of two stars by most scouting websites. Drafted by the Houston Texans in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He is currently listed as the starting weak side linebacker.

Safety Haruki Nakamura, class of 2005- Rated an average of two stars by most scouting websites. Drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He is currently listed as second on the depth chart at free safety behind Ed Reed.

While there may be some validity to what the scouts have to say, take their analyses with a grain of salt.

There may or may not be some diamonds in the rough. But if I were you, I'd wait to judge these players for myself.

The start of the 2012 season is only eight months away. 

-- I took the time to watch some videos of some former Bearcats. One of my favorite players to watch back in the day was Haruki Nakamura. Check out some of his highlights from 2007:

-- Alex Callos of bleacherreport.com with a breakdown of the Bearcats' recruiting needs here. According to Callos, this year's class has the potential to be the best since Butch Jones has been at Cincinnati.

-- Tomorrow's Signing Day press conference will be broadcast live online at 3 p.m. here: http://www.gobearcats.com/allaccess/

Don't forget to check back in with the blog for more news and notes after the press conference. 

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