The opening of the Tommy Tuberville era is less than three months away when the Bearcats host Purdue on Aug. 31. An influx of recruits and return of familiar stars leave an excitement of what UC can accomplish in The American.
With mass change in coaching staff comes unknown quantities up and down the roster. After holding a long conversation with Tommy Tuberville I churned out a list of the 10 players whose development will be most crucial to crossing the 10-win mark for the sixth time in seven years.
This won't be about pointing out the top players on the roster, though some stars will make the list, this will be about pointing out those who must take a step forward and spike production in order for this team to be successful. We'll run one player a day every day for the next two work weeks, counting down to No. 1.
Today at No. 5:
Position: Wide receiver
Weight: 172 pounds
2012 Stats: 34 receptions, 539 yards, two touchdowns; 16 punt returns, 158 yards (9.9 average).
The Opportunity: Last year Anthony McClung finished behind Travis Kelce in yards per game receiving, but with Kelce and other top wideout Kenbrell Thompkins gone, the onus falls on McClung to lead this deep receiving group. In the spring, he appeared destined to cash in on the opportunity looking far and away like the standout offensive player. McClung dominated nearly every scrimmage and saw a connection blossom with Brendon Kay.
Why development is crucial: Every offense needs a player that keeps the opponent's defensive coordinator up at night. McClung could be that player for the Bearcats. Actually, he needs to be that player for the Bearcats. Without it, Tommy Tuberville will need an unknown quantity like Chris Moore, Alex Chisum or JuCo transfer Johnny Holton to take a giant leap forward. McClung and Ralph David Abernathy IV will open the season as the two primary weapons in Eddie Gran's holster. They'll be counted on to spike production significantly.
Tommy T's Take: "He's going to be an inside guy, but he can play anywhere. We've got a lot of young guys that can run and stretching the field means getting deep with outside receivers. That makes him stronger inside because they have to run different coverage where he can run gaps and alleys and all that. Him and Ralph are kind of a 1-2 punch to get the ball to in certain situations. Screens, reverses, draw plays, middle screens, things you can do with guys who can make you miss."
I want to hear from you! Agree, disagree, befuddled? Shoot me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or hit me up on Twitter (@pauldehnerjr) with your thoughts on this list or anything else Bearcats football.