This year, members of the UC football family will
wear wristbands that feature the words "Sign Your Name."
"That's a thing that we've adopted going into 2012," said head coach Butch Jones. "What does your name stand for? Every time that we have a workout, they sign their name to it. It's about all of our names coming together as one. The kids have really adopted that and bought into signing their name to excellence on a day-to-day basis."
Coach Jones is always looking for unique ways to motivate his players. The "Sign Your Name" theme is a simple reminder that every member of the team is accountable for his actions on-and-off the field.
"Every team is different and forms a new identity," Coach Jones told me. "We have a lot of players that are going to be in roles that they've never had before and everyone is accountable for their day-to-day progress. All you have is your name, and what does your name stand for? At the end of the day, you are judged by that in your productivity and your life."
Last year's theme was "Be A Champion" as Coach Jones
constantly reminded the players that in order to win a championship, they had
to had to be champions on the practice field, in the classroom, and in the
community. The season ended with a share
of the Big East title and a victory in the Liberty Bowl. As a result, the phrase "Be A Champion" is
inscribed on one side of their championship rings.
"Before we could dream about being a championship football team, our team had to be comprised of individual champions," said Jones. "The way we conducted ourselves, the way we won in the classroom, our practice habits, our personal habits - everything. Our players really bought into that and I think it speaks volumes that that team was a championship football team."
With the school year ending and graduation ceremonies set for this weekend, the Bearcats will get a short break from training before returning to campus for summer workouts. The coaching staff, on the other hand, started The Butch Jones Football Camps this week which are a critical part of the recruiting process.
"We'll probably bring about 5,000 prospective student-athletes to Cincinnati and to our campus over the next couple of weeks," said Coach Jones. "It can go anywhere from three to five thousand. From unofficial visits to one-day campers to three-day campers to quarterback camp to specialist camp...it will be non-stop.
"Out of all of (last year's) signees, all of them had visited our campus prior to their official visit. The next couple of weeks through the month of June will be critical for evaluating prospective student-athletes and getting them here on campus and selling them on the many things we have to offer."
The coaches will finally get a brief break in July before gearing up for the start of training camp at Camp Higher Ground in West Harrison, Indiana on August 7th. The season begins with a Big East home game against Pittsburgh on Thursday, September 6th.
"We have to be able to start fast," said Jones. "That's why the sense of urgency was at an all-time high in spring football. When we go to Camp Higher Ground, we have to have a great foundation and a great base of what we were able to do in the summer. Our players understand what's at stake. As a coach, I'm already worried about the little nuances of playing your first game. When you look at starting the season off with a talented Big East opponent in Pittsburgh and then Virginia Tech (in week three), we have to have a great level of consistency day-in and day-out, starting in the summer."
The Bearcats have signed up for the challenge.
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