Congratulations. Football has finally arrived. We can stop speculating on speculation and report on the media reporting on the media reporting on the media reporting on the NCAA. What a fantastic day. Let's talk UC football.
So, today marks the first camp practice of the Tommy Tuberville era and with an influx of new players and last year's holdovers, battles begin everywhere today. While most everyone will be fighting for playing time, these are three of the most important battles to watch as UC barrels toward Aug. 31 against Purdue.
How should you keep up with those battles? Well, of course, keep it locked to GoBearcats.com for updates from myself, Dan Hoard and video from Tommy G and the crew about all the happenings in Clifton and Higher Ground.
Battle 1: Wide Receiver
Possible Starters: Anthony McClung (Sr.), Chris Moore (Soph.), Alex Chisum (Jr.)
In the mix: Pretty much everyone else, Jeremy Graves (Soph.), Max Morrison (Soph.), Shakim Alonso (RS Fr.), Johnny Holton (JC transfer), among many others.
Analysis: The position generally is stacked but Tommy Tuberville loves to rotate deep at every position. A cast will be auditioning every day for the right to play outside starter Anthony McClung in the slot. He's only definitive starter at this point and will be counted on to help carry the offense. But he needs help. Bearcats fans caught a glimpse of what Chisum could do in 2011 but he endured a sophomore slump last season. If he can take the next step he adds a dangerous element because of his size and body control. Coaches love the blazing speed of Johnny Holton. Chris Moore impressed in the spring and enjoyed pockets of success last. The list goes on and coaches will be evaluating every snap. Anybody listed as a WR in camp has a shot to line up outside on the first play against Purdue.
Battle 2: Cornerback
Possible starters: Deven Drane (Sr.), Trenier Orr (Jr.)
In the mix: Howard Wilder (JC transfer), Leviticus Payne (Soph.), among a host of young players.
Analysis: Drane will be the starting corner and the senior already has received love from NFL scouts, a big year gives him next level potential. Beyond him, an open contest should be fun to observe. Orr always was a Butch Jones favorite and showed well in the spring. Tuberville eyes depth at the position and plucked the junior college ranks to provide it, Howard Wilder, a transfer from Pierce College will attempt to show his game translates to FBS. Sophomore Leviticus Payne played sparingly as a freshman but reported increased comfort and confidence during spring ball. In all, six other freshmen are listed as either CBs or DBs. It will be a wild chase to see who can show enough to enter the rotation.
3) Running Back
Possible Starter: Ralph David Abernathy IV
In the mix: Tion Green (Soph.), Hosey Williams (JC transfer), Rodriguez Moore (JC transfer), Deionte Buckley (Soph.), Anthony King (Sr.)
Analysis: The plan to utilize Abernathy IV will go a long way to deciding the efficiency of this offense. Expect multiple facets but don't expect 20 carries in the I-formation. Green, Moore, Buckley and Williams will share carries and see who proves most effective. Often hitting is limited in training camp but Tuberville won't shy away because he must find out who to play thunder to RDAIV lightning. He's been a big believer in rotating the backs since his days at Auburn most notably rotating Kenny Irons, Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown. Backs take a pounding, especially in his pro style system, and he'd love to find two to match with RDA.