Bearcats Breakfast 5.11.12

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Wanted to keep the focus today on the early enrollment concept. This story by USA Today documents that UC leads the country in early enrollee football players with nine. The next closest is Ohio State and Miami (Fla.) with seven.

Here's the USA Today piece with quotes from Butch Jones.

And here's the list of UC players enrolled early:

DB Kevin Brown, RB Deionte Buckley, OL Jonathan Burt, LB Errol Clark, QB Bennie Coney, TE DeShawn Dowdy, DB Marcus Foster, QB Trenton Norvell, DL Josh Posley.

While all receive benefits of enrolling early such as adapting to college life out of season, extra reps, transition to strenuous conditioning program, jumpstart on graduation and chemistry with teammates, for no position is it more important than at the quarterback spot.

The extra time and reps enjoyed while working with coaches allows them to really start understanding the playbook earlier to the point that by the time they arrive at training camp, they can take the reins with relative ease for a freshman.

Two early enrollees in college football last year played a major role in shaping college football and in one case, the Big East.

Ohio State's Braxton Miller enrolled early at Ohio State and down at Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater enrolled early for the Cards.

Tim Tebow, Matt Stafford, Christian Ponder, Matt Barkley and Aaron Murray are all also from the early-entry school of thought. Of the last seven mentioned, only Murray and Ponder didn't play their freshmen years.

What was the early impact for the other five?

Tim Tebow: Threw five TDs, ran for eight, combined for 827 yards and was able to contribute to a national championship along with Chris Leak. Went on to become first sophomore to win the Heisman.

Matt Stafford: Started as a freshman at the first snap. Was far from great his first year throwing seven TDs to 13 picks, but capable to leading the offense and became the No. 1 overall pick in three years.

Matt Barkley: Completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,735 yards starting from Day 1 with the Trojans.

Teddy Bridgewater:
Came on as QB early in the year and revitalized the Louisville attack, proving to be more ready than most anticipated. By the time the season concluded he led U of L to five wins in the last seven games and threw for 2,129 yards.

Braxton Miller: Took over midseason and became the lone spark in a stagnant Buckeyes offense. Combined for nearly 1,900 yards of offense.

Most of these were highly touted recruits and the connection doesn't always mean immediate impact, but certainly a proven track record exists of being more capable of contributing with the extra time in the spring.

--- At UC last year,
S Malcolm Murray, WR Shaq Washington, LB Dwight Jackson and LB Nick Temple were the only four early enrollees. The contributions could be seenat the linebacker position, specifically with Temple.

He impressed coaches last spring to the point that he filled into a reserve role at a position of need early in the season. He went on to start eight of 13 games at linebacker, by midyear he was playing a prominent role.

No freshman started more games. That's partly by situation and also partly because Temple was prepared mentally and physically.

Would he have been able to start eight games and play the major role he was by the end of the season without showing up early to Clifton? In his eyes, not necessarily.

"With the conditioning back home I wasn't sitting down or watching TV, I was running and lifting weights with my trainer," he said. "Playbook-wise it's not that hard, but I don't think I would have been as ready as I was before the season started."

He finished with 35 tackles, 2.5 for loss, one forced fumble and an interception. By the end of the season, his practice reps dictated he was a sophomore and he clearly played at that advanced level.

"Being here more playing with them and the speed of the game," he said, "I was reacting more instead of thinking."

More than anything, Temple references his overall comfort level entering the season. And feeling comfortable goes a long way to playing instinctively on the field.

"I thought I was a veteran here (in the fall)," Temple said. "I was showing them things, I was showing them how to do stuff -- how to read the playbook, how to watch film and all that stuff. I thought I had a more upper step of them when the rest of my class came in."

--- As is seen across college football, this program in no way guarantees success, but it sure creates a more conducive situation for it. That's what Jones describes in his USA Today piece:

"We want to make sure they can handle the great change in their lives. Your home is now the four walls of a dorm room. The surroundings have changed, the culture has changed, your friends have changed.

"You're dealing with 17- and 18-year olds, and the maturation process can be different for different kids at that age. But they're putting themselves in position to play earlier, and the kids who came in this year are doing well in school and on the field. And they're also getting a jump on graduating in four years, which we want to happen."

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