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Five biggest reasons for excitement with Bearcats football

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On Monday we took a look at the five questions the Bearcats must answer by the time they leave Higher Ground. Today, we flip the script and look at the five biggest reasons they should be excited as Day 1 of camp begins.

1. Wide receivers. Every year the recruiting needle pushes to red in the wide receiver category. With the recent history of players like Mardy Gilyard and Armon Binns thriving and moving on to the NFL the best high school wideouts have been drawn to UC. Those recruiting boons are beginning to show.

The top trio of Anthony McClung, Kenbrell Thompkins and Alex Chisum are among the most exciting in the Big East. McClung led the team in receiving last year with 49 receptions for 683 yards and six touchdowns. He's established a quick connection with QB Munchie Legaux, as evidenced in the final game of the regular season against UConn when he racked up a UC season-high 142 yards in the air.
 
ChisumPitt.jpgThompkins didn't break onto the scene as many expected of the former Tennessee commit, but was solid with 44 receptions for 536 yards. Approaching his senior year and second in the system, the expectations are high Thompkins will deliver on his incredible talent.

Funny we mention Binns earlier as Chisum looked like a second version of Armon last year. He may have as much upside as any receiver in the program and with a full offseason working with the offense will only make him better. Bold prediction: Chisum will lead UC in receiving.

The list of talent runs on and on behind those three with Chris Moore, Braxton Lane, Damon Julian, physical freak Dyjuan Lewis and many more waiting in the wings.

2. Walter Stewart.
This year's Derek Wolfe? Those are large, angry shoes to fill, but Stewart strides down the same path. He took ownership of team leadership this offseason and holds as focused as in any time during his career.

On the field, he surged as last season drew on and played like an unstoppable force during the second half of the season. He recorded at least one TFL six of the last seven games of the regular season and finished the year with 11. He also racked up five sacks over the final five games of the year. That includes the amazing sack, strip, score against UConn.

Only two players in all of FBS averaged better than one sack per game last year as Stewart did over the final five. A year of that effort and Stewart could be among the top pass rushers in the nation.

3. Defensive backfield. Experience covers each corner spot as players who have proven themselves fill both positions. Cam Cheatham and Deven Drane both played well last season and return to hold down the starting spots. Remarkably, Dominique Battle will still be around as he attempts to shake his injury-riddled past in his senior year.

Drew Frey brings experience in his final year at UC and will be the undeniable leader in the back end. The spot next to him will have a new starter with Wesley Richardson moving on, but with so much experience a newcomer will have plenty of qualified teachers.

4. Mike Bajakian. The offense coordinator returns for his third season at UC. The right-hand offensive man of Butch Jones developed a rhythm as last season progressed and successfully worked both veterans, youth and the perfect amount of Isaiah Pead in to create a potent attack.

With so many young pieces, he'll need to do some of his best work, but he hasn't let Jones down yet and that's why he brought him over from Central Michigan with him. With Bajakian at the helm, the UC offense will be in good hands. 

5. Team Chemistry. Jones has become a master of this concept. His players battle through adversity and grind to the final seconds as well as any in the country. Spy their string of fourth-quarter comebacks last year for proof. He's cultivated a family atmosphere conducive to extracting the best out of each player. Combine that with a team now filled with a majority of players he personally recruited and his vision comes into clearer focus. This is not more his team than any in history and that is great news for UC football.

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