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Though players disappear from the radar of UC basketball fans upon graduating, the coaching of those who continue their basketball careers overseas only begins for Mick Cronin. 

CINCINNATI -- Yancy Gates laughs and rolls his eyes simultaneously. All at the mere mention of the multitude of important decisions he needed to make in the months following the conclusion of his UC career and beginning of his professional journey. 

The moment Ohio State put the finishing touches on his final NCAA tournament run in March of 2012, Gates faced an uncertain future. 

Where should he play? Should the NBA be an option? Is riding the bench worth being in the league? What International leagues present the best opportunities? Do any offer health insurance? Who should be his agent? What will he do with an influx of income? When will he see his daughter and family? How must he alter his game for the next level? 

Gates spent his life on the streets of hometown Cincinnati, as recognized as comfortable and caretaken. Eventually last year, he landed in Lithuania, only recognized by teammates and his work Visa. Decisions needed to be made and executed while processing a language out of the Rosetta Stone post-graduate program and culture adjustment only a sitcom writer could love.  
Enduring the process alone would come as easy as personally calculating the currency conversion from American dollars to Lithuanian litas. 

"You try to talk to a lot of different people," said Gates, who spent this summer in the Puerto Rico league. "It's a lot different than being in college where your house and room is paid for, all that stuff so, you got to be more responsible. Just because you're are overseas, I have a daughter. That doesn't take away from the responsibilities you have at home. You just try to stay focused and be able to budget all of it on an even level. You try to use all your sources." 

That's where Mick Cronin enters the equation. He developed Gates in order to win 89 games during four years for UC. In Cronin's mind, though, with Gates and every other product of the Bearcats program, after the final game his coaching just begins. 

"We got a lot of things to do with those guys," Cronin said. "Stuff we do with guys all the time. There are things people don't realize with these guys, they are graduated, their health insurance is gone. If you are getting it through the university or with your parents. There are things we talk about with these guys all the time are important. A lot of young people don't understand how important that is." 

Little time exists for lag. Upon leaving school, Cronin immediately helps them find agents they can trust - as much as that is attainable. If the NBA doesn't come calling, which will be the case for 99 percent of college basketball players, a trusted guide through often rocky overseas waters stands essential. 

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Just ask John Williamson. He's played in eight different countries since graduating from UC in 2008. Williamson averaged 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds during his two seasons as a JuCo transfer early in Cronin's rebuilding process. 

Taking on a career overseas he endured a medical staff in Venezuela that incorrectly diagnosed what turned out to be a broken collarbone, nearly forcing career-threatening damage had he not decided to bolt the league after one game. 

Every offseason he's forced to weigh options between leagues covering the globe, all while being discounted as  as series of injuries stunted his progress. Cronin set Williamson up with an agent he could trust and even a financial planner to properly save his money. He sent out word to international coaches assisting Williamson finding teams.

Williamson leaned on both his biological family and UC family to make it through. 

"You have to look at it as I am going to live abroad, going overseas for this x-amount of months and I am not going to see my family and stuff like that," Williamson said. "There's more of a mental state. You got to have that passion and have good people around you like Mick Cronin."

This past season he averaged 15.4 points and 5.6 rebounds playing in France. He's currently undecided if he will rejoin that team or move elsewhere as one of the top American free agents in the league. 

He's not surprised by all the assistance Cronin and his staff offered once he couldn't help them win games anymore, that generosity drew him to UC in the first place. 

"It's not a surprise because of how Mick is," Williamson said. "Even former players before us, I'd see how he treated them when I was here. If they needed anything as far as tickets or jobs or anything, he'll help you as much as he can. That's why I have no doubt if I needed anything as far as playing ball, a phone call to Mick and I'm sure he'd do the best he can to help me out. It's always good to have the relationship and the people I met over the years in Cincinnati is all good people, so it's a blessing." 

Williamson thrives as a veteran of the European game and still hoping to work out for NBA scouts when given the opportunity. He hears from coaches, teammates and scouts repeatedly than his game can translate to the league. If that opportunity comes, he'll be grateful. If not, well, playing in Europe has been a different dream come true in itself. 

Meanwhile, Gates still chases his dreams. He could have taken a camp tryout with the Boston Celtics last year, but passed so he could spend time playing instead of sitting. He hopes a few years in Europe will lead to a shot in the NBA. Where his path forks next remains to be determined. He only knows when the decisions pile up again, he knows what number to call. 

"Anything I'd asked (the UC coaching staff) before they were willing to help me with," he said. "I could call any guy on the coaching staff, any trainer, anyone would help me even now still. I keep in contact with all of them." 

I want to hear from you! Shoot me any comments, questions or suggestions about anything surrounding UC athletics to pauldehnerjr@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. 


Another week of dead period in the books, but fear not the first practice is around the corner. This becomes a bit of the silly season in college football as the scribes scratch and claw to manufacture storylines. Watch lists that can alter dramatically as the season unfolds, pre-rankings assured to look foolish by Week 2 and the best are the media talking about the media (I'm looking at you SEC Media Days). 

I will do my best to avoid those standard pitfalls, and maybe spend some time disproving a few of them. Of course, for UC the first practice will be Aug. 5 and we are 47 days away from the Aug. 31 opener against Purdue. So, soon we can start discussing real storylines. 

This brings me to the blog question of the day: What storyline perks your interest the most this season? 

Here's a few choices, place your vote. 

What's the most intriguing 2013 UC football storyline for you?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

If you see more important storylines not listed here, shoot me an email to pauldehnerjr@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr and I'll discuss them here on the blog. 

OK, Let's eat ...

--- I'll start by discussing Sean Kilpatrick and the World University Games team. By all accounts, the team's success will go down as a disappointment. They'll play in the ninth-place game Tuesday -- not what anybody had in mind not what they expect of Team USA men's basketball at any level. 

Thumbnail image for SKUSA.jpegAfter their 92-70 victory Monday against Germany coach Bob McKillop talked about wishing his team could restart the tournament now as they begin to finally gel together. Admittedly, throwing a group of players together and expecting them to mesh quickly enough to take on many international teams that have been playing together longer can be a tough task, but with expectations this high, that's part of the deal. 

Back-to-back losses to Australia (93-84) when they held a five-point lead entering the final quarter and Canada (94-85) where they never recovered from a poor second quarter left them out of the medal round. 

The latest win did appear to be their best game of the tournament with four players reaching double figures. SK continues to play his role on the team. Occassionally contributing pockets of points while bringing energy off the bench. Monday, he rolled off five quick ones when Germany cut the lead to nine in the third quarter for a crucial stretch that helped put the game away. 

Some stats thus far for SK through seven games: 

He's averaging 17.4 minutes (7th on the team), and scoring 7.6 points and 2.0 rebounds. He's struggled from  behind the 3-point line hitting 29.7 percent (11 of 37). 

U.S. closes out the games against Finland Tuesday at 7 a.m. 

--- Popped up to the City Gear league yesterday to speak with Yancy Gates for another story I'll have coming soon, but he spoke about SK at the WUG and brought his perspective to Kilpatrick's international experience. 

"That's a good thing for him. SK loves to play ball. He could play all day, every day, every night." 

Not a bad image, expectation to be set by the leader of your program. 

--- For those who want to catch a glimpse of the our city's version of the And1 Tour (Oh, baby!), the tournament begins this week. Gates will be playing with Clovernook. The Slats team includes a number of young UC players, while Cashmere Wright and Shaq Thomas play for Jackson. (Shaq, noticeably bigger) with game-high 22 points yesterday, FWIW. 

Next game -- Slats, Wednesday 10:30 p.m., Jackson on Thursday at 9:30 p.m., followed by Clovernook Thursday at 10:30 p.m. 

--- Bill Koch did a nice job talking to all sides in the conversation about moving UC basketball downtown. A must-read for any UC hoops fan. 

The piece includes this assessment from Whit Babcock: 

"It's being talked about but it's just really early in the process. I want us to play in the best basketball facility possible. I'm hopeful that's on campus. If you make the decision to move off campus, that's a big deal. But I'm open to any proposal. For us, I don't think it hurts to listen. I don't have the answers yet on how to renovate Fifth Third Arena."

--- Tom Groeschen with an interesting read last week talking with new Australian football player Lindsay Crook, in case you missed it. Quite a story and Tommy Tuberville -- the good bloke he is -- never shy to think outside the box in recruiting. 

--- I won't delve too deeply into Watch Lists, but Greg Blair ranks among the most discussed Bearcats players. The MLB landed on two different lists, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik award. 

The Nagurski list is the grand prize, as it's given to the defensive player of the year by the FWAA. 

--- Randomness ... 

--- I know Bill Cosby is getting up there, but I will watch Comedy Central when they air his first comedy special in 30 years. 

--- With all the news I've heard recently, It's apparent I should never go to Brazil. 

--- You've all seen and heard of this by now, but should be repeated: So far beyond unfathomable

--- Even Mark Mallory is laughing at this first pitch by Carly Rae Jepsen. For all the pain Call Me Maybe put us all through, it serves her right. 

--- Reason number 4,584,855 to love the Internet, here's a two-hour Pearl Jam concert from Brazil this year (Enjoy the concert, without the chance of being murdered!). Have a great day everybody.



Hope everyone enjoyed their July 4 holiday weekend. Yes, I know my readership, and I'm positive you all took off Friday and probably sneaking in an off day today to maximize laziness potential. Congrats. 

Now, let's eat ...

--- Sean Kilpatrick and the USA WUG team not exactly challenged by basketball power United Arab Emirates. The USA team slaughtered the oil mavens, winning, 140-46. 

Even more impressive, SK led all US scorers with 18 points in his 24 minutes. He hit four triples along with four boards and three assists. 

He had this to say about his first official game:

"Everyone on this team can score, and that's an advantage," Kilpatrick said. "We have the best players in the USA as of right now, and it was good to come down here with these guys and play this game. Everyone on this team plays the game the right way. When you've got guys that share the ball this well, then it's very special."
 
--- Monday morning the US squad hit the floor again, this time trouncing the Czech Republic, 96-53. 

SK chipped in with seven. 

Here is a replay of the game on ESPN3, if you want to take it in. Kilpatrick not starting at this point, but coaches have repeatedly discussed his energy off the bench as the major asset he's brought to the team, both with his defensive pressure and shooting from 3. 

--- As for the rest of the live schedule, you can also catch games on ESPNU tape delays: 

Wednesday, 1 p.m. EDT: Live on ESPN3 here
Thursday, 10:30 a.m. EDT Live on ESPN3 here
Friday, 5 a.m. EDT, Live on ESPN3 here

--- Sadly, we mourn the death of the ESPN BIG EASTblog, which has apparently gone away as they restructured to add a Stanford only blog (wait, what?). Loved the work Andrea Adelson and Matt Fortuna did to cover the conference and they'll definitely be missed. No matter, you know you can always keep it locked here at GoBearcats.com for all you need to know about UC football in season. 

--- Randomness ...

--- Have loved this show on Funny or Die and pumped its coming to Comedy Central, here's a history of the history

--- I will sign up to watch the documentary on AAU basketball. Found the topic constantly one of the most interesting I write about every year. 

--- One of the best parts of often working from home is being able to often work from the road. I'll be doing that this week following the Reds in Milwaukee. Which prompts this lovely tune for today's drive. 

Have a great day. 


Good morning my fellow Americans. That's right, welcome to Day 1 of The American Athletic Conference. The transition from Big East to American officially occurred today. So, as a Civics lesson of sorts, which apparently they're still working on at UConn, I will rundown for everyone the 10 teams that will be participating this season in the American conference. 

Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU, South Florida, Temple, UCF. 

In 2014, Louisville and Rutgers will move out while East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa will hop in. In 2015, Navy joins the fold in football only. 


Got it? Got it. 

Let's eat ...

--- Hope everyone enjoyed the countdown of the top 10 crucial developments for 2013. Wasn't the catchiest of titles, but an interesting look inside the storylines we'll be following when Higher Ground opens in about five weeks. 

In case you missed it all, here's a link to No. 1 with links to all of the profiles at the bottom. 

Maybe some surprise with Tion Green at the top spot, but the clear consensus from Tommy Tuberville in discussing his concern position group was the backfield needs to be solidified. Whether it be figuring out a plan for Ralph David Abernathy, seeking maturity from Green or Deionte Buckley or finding a gem among junior college transfers, a balance of carries needs to be established. 

You never know how the rotation will play out, remember this time last year we were discussing the likelihood of a three-headed monster in the backfield -- then George Winn carried 243 times with nobody else lugging it more than 70. 

--- The big news from last week came with the announcement of the renovation of Nippert Stadium. Here's the video and update from Whit Babcock. 



Agreed. For me, the most impressive element was the amount of suites and boxes already sold. The 18 Founders suites, which run at $100k a year with a minimum 10-year commitment were already sold out. Wow. That's serious financial support before any public sale even begins. It solidifies the reality this was the right decision to make. There is too much money in expansive premium seating to pass on the opportunity to add these types of facilities that can flip the financial model of the department. 

Without a dime taken from the general university fund this renovation will pay for itself. Plus, I believe most importantly, new press box for the us media heathens! 

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When talking to SK before he left, it was apparent how seriously he was taking this opportunity. He wanted to play for Team USA, this was not some offseason camp for fun. That was apparent as by all reports he played extremely well and making the 12-man team considering the talent comprised in the 30 players that showed up in Colorado Springs speaks for itself. 

SK becomes the fourth UC player to play in the WUG for Team USA. The previous three: Pete Mickeal, Kenyon Martin and Eric Hicks. 

First off, nice company. Second, take a look at the improvement of those three players between their junior and senior seasons when they played for the USA team. 

                                                                                   

WUG impact?

     
PlayerJr. Year Stats Sr. Year Stats
Pete Mickeal13.5 pts, 6.5 rebs., 50.4% shot 14.9 pts, 7.2 rebs., 58.3% shot
Kenyon Martin10.1 pts, 6.9 rebs., 2.4 blcks 18.9 pts, 9.7 rebs., 3.5 blcks
Eric Hicks13.7 pts, 9,0 rebs., 2.3 blcks 15.0 pts, 9.7 rebs., 3.3 blcks

Kenyon's rise still goes down as one of the greatest jumps in production by any player in program history. To expect that of anybody else would be unfair, but clearly coming back from this experience didn't hurt either of these three. There's a confidence and osmosis improvement that comes from being around the best the world has to offer in collegiate athletics. Nobody should be surprised SK thrived in that competitive environment, they also shouldn't be surprised if he takes full advantage of it. 

--- Was asked this question on Twitter, and according to this story (which focuses on the swimming aspect) most hours of the games will be available in the US. 

Here are the times when the USA team will play (I even converted it to EDT for you people. That's right, math. You're welcome):

Sunday, July 7, 10:30 AM: USA vs. United Arab Emirates
Monday, July 8, 3 AM: USA vs. Czech Republic
Wednesday, July 10, 1 PM: USA vs Sweden
Thursday, July 11, 10:30 AM: USA vs. Australia
Friday, July 12, 3 AM: USA vs. Canada
Playoffs run July 14-16

Mark your calendars. 

--- SK wearing No. 9, not a bad number in USA basketball. Worn by Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. 

Vince Carter famously did this to Frederic Weis while wearing No. 9: 


--- Look at all these underclassmen who had decisions on declaring for the NBA Draft very similar to those of Kilpatrick, but chose to go. They are trying to figure out a summer NBAteam to end up on and researching the NBDL. SK will be playing for Team USA. You be the judge. 


--- UC finished last basketball season ranked No. 30 in average TV rating (fifth among those in old Big East). That may seem insignificant to you, but in the world of college basketball TV draw will get you everywhere. Nothing wrong with being a top 30 program in eyes of the national viewer. 

Randomness ...

--- The Deveroes League is happening. As always, defense is not. It's taking a brief hiatus after games last night and will resume Wednesday, July 10 at Woodward if you'd like to attend. Schedule. 

--- I'm always on board with Larry David, so I'll be giving this new movie he stars in a shot. Here's the trailer for Clear History. 

--- Happy Canada Day everyone. It's raining poo there. 

--- I just don't understand how in 2013 in America a woman can not know they are pregnant and pop out kids on their front lawn. Not one friend was strong enough to whisper to her, you know, you should probably take a pregnancy test or maybe investigate an aqua aerobics program. 

--- People may say the Tour de France is boring. And they'd be right. However, it is prone to moments of impromptu hilarity. Such as this bus getting stuck under the finishing line and sending the cyclists into a wreck. Or this dog narrowly avoiding causing one of the most massive dog-related crashes in history

--- As always, shoot any questions, comments or dog-related crash videos to pauldehnerjr@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. Have a great day and here's this in honor of Canada on their day.  



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 yet again. 

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 ran one player a day every day for two work weeks counting down to today. 

Today at No. 1:

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Tion Green
Position: Running Back
Year: Sophomore
Height: 6-0
Weight: 211 pounds
2012 Stats: 16 rushes for 70 yards and a touchdown (long of 23).  

The Opportunity: Ralph David Abernathy IV will not be taking all the snaps at running back. Tommy Tuberville made that clear. Somebody needs to absorb the rest of the carries and attempt to replace the repetitive consistency of George Winn for this running attack to live to the potential. Green will compete with a duet of junior college transfers and there should be a number of carries to go around with opportunity for dominating success behind an offensive line returning all five starters. Tuberville desires to be more physical and the running game could be the calling card of the initiative. That is, assuming somebody takes over the role of punishing back to complement the quickness of RDAIV.

Why development is crucial: In high school and flashes last season Green showed a game-changing playmaking ability. A penchant to slash and break tackles are what made him a top 50 athlete in the 2012 class, according to rivals.com. The emergence of Green would solidify a position group of primary concern to Tuberville, who believes in a deep rotation of starters, particularly at a position that endures the pounding of a RB in pro style. Green's shown the potential, but he'll never own a better opportunity than now to cash in.    

Tommy T's Take: "I think every position we've got, we've got a mixture of youth and experience. If there is one that's probably on offense that is a big question mark is running back. Tion Green, hadn't been there done that. That's a hard position to play in college because you get the hell knocked out of you. I'd say that's a position the biggest question mark. In two-a-days we'll see what the two new guys can do, see how far Tion has come, and get a good solid plan for Ralph. (For Tion), it's just maturity. Can he carry the ball 15 times a game? Is he going to be able to hold up?" 
 

Previous profiles: 

No. 10 DE Silverberry Mouhon


I want to hear from you! Agree, disagree, befuddled? Shoot me an email (pauldehnerjr@gmail.com) or hit me up on Twitter (@pauldehnerjr) with your thoughts on this list or anything else Bearcats football. 

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. 2:

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Jeff Luc
Position: Linebacker
Year: Junior (FSU transfer)
Height: 6-1
Weight: 248 pounds
2012 Stats: Sat out after transferring from Florida State . 

The Opportunity: Rarely does the No. 1 recruit at his position fall into the lap of a program, but that's exactly what happened for UC and Tommy Tuberville. Such is not to say luring Jeff Luc from FSU to UC didn't take recruiting, but he's now set to play for the Bearcats after sitting out last year to transfer. He owns as much potential as any player to line up at the position in red and black. His hits sound different and his speed rare for a player his size. Yet, he's never consistently played Division I football before. He's definitely never started. How quick will his instincts transfer to the speed of the game? Can he immediately become a leader of the defense? Can avoid a history of injury issues? None of these questions can be answered until Purdue arrives Aug. 31. Luc doesn't know, nor does any member of the coaching staff. 

Why development is crucial: A defense fighting depth in the secondary and inserting new pieces on the defensive line is expected to be anchored by one of the top linebacking groups in The American. Held down by Greg Blair in the middle and emerging OLB Nick Temple on the outside, Luc will need to be an impact player to represent the hammer of this physical unit. If Luc turns out to be the player he was as a five-star recruit out of Treasure Coast Florida the UC defense takes on a championship feel.   

Luc's Take: "The main part is actually getting the scheme, actually know what I am doing and increasing my football IQ while knowing what the offense does. I really haven't had experience. If you actually look at my history and my career I've been out three years. That comes with time and getting in the playbook and learning, that's going to make me feel a lot more comfortable." 

 

 Previous profiles: 



I want to hear from you! Agree, disagree, befuddled? Shoot me an email (pauldehnerjr@gmail.com) or hit me up on Twitter (@pauldehnerjr) with your thoughts on this list or anything else Bearcats football. 

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. 3:

KBrown.jpeg
Kevin Brown/Safety
Position: Safety
Year: Sophomore 
Height: 6-1
Weight: 207 pounds
2012 Stats: Played in nine games as a freshman last year. 

The Opportunity: The safety position sprawls wide open next to starter Arryn Chenault. Any number of players will be asked to fill the gap and assert themselves. This spot in the countdown should like read "safety" instead of Kevin Brown, but he tops the list of those with experience at the position. Tommy Tuberville recruited junior college transfers Darren Doston, Mike Tyson and Howard Wilder to help provide depth, but there is no proven Division I experience back there. 

Why development is crucial: Kevin Brown was surprisingly thrust into action as a plethora of injuries befell the secondary last year. Brown performed adequately in his limited time, playing in nine games. That experience could help Brown in seizing the open spot and securing the back end of the secondary. Without it, this will be one of the biggest questions on the defense entering the season.  

Tommy T's Take: "We need DBs, we got Mike Tyson coming in. Howard Wilder coming in. One (more) safety and one corner is the perfect scenario for us to have more experience."

 

 Previous profiles: 



I want to hear from you! Agree, disagree, befuddled? Shoot me an email (pauldehnerjr@gmail.com) or hit me up on Twitter (@pauldehnerjr) with your thoughts on this list or anything else Bearcats football. 

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. 4:

Holton.jpg
Johnny Holton
Position: Wide receiver
Year: Junior (JuCo transfer) 
Height: 6-3
Weight: 190 pounds
2012 Stats: 23 receptions for 548 yards (23.8 yards per catch) and eight touchdowns (at College of DuPage JC in Chicago). 

The Opportunity: The Bearcats need someone to step up as a home-run hitter to work the outside receiver spots. With Anthony McClung and RDAIV working the slots and underneath routes, keeping the safeties deep will be a key. Who will take over that spot? Any number of players could be listed here: Alex Chisum, Chris Moore, Braxton Lane, Jeremy Graves, etc. Holton holds this spot because his rare speed provides an unique opportunity few on this list possess. He runs sub-4.4 and is as raw a project as you'll see at the receiver position. He was plucked out of a flag football game during his freshman year at DuPage. He flipped that into 23.8 (!) yards per catch as the top deep threat in JC.  . 

Why development is crucial: Anybody who saw Brendon Kay last year knows his ability with the deep ball lives at the top of his list of strengths. If Holton can use his track star speed to consistently work behind defenses it could create a deadly combo. Add in RDA and McClung doing damage underneath and defenses much pick their poison. Adjusting to Division I college football doesn't typically happen overnight for transfers, but speed translates. At least, that's what Tommy Tuberville hopes. .  

Tommy T's Take: "He can really fly. He played well in junior college. It's not like he's going to be behind, he's only 15 days behind. I think Johnny is going to give us an opportunity to get it deep."

 

 Previous profiles: 



I want to hear from you! Agree, disagree, befuddled? Shoot me an email (pauldehnerjr@gmail.com) or hit me up on Twitter (@pauldehnerjr) with your thoughts on this list or anything else Bearcats football. 

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:

McClung TD (440x305).jpg
Anthony McClung
Position: Wide receiver
Year: Senior 
Height: 6-0
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."

 

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I want to hear from you! Agree, disagree, befuddled? Shoot me an email (pauldehnerjr@gmail.com) or hit me up on Twitter (@pauldehnerjr) with your thoughts on this list or anything else Bearcats football. 

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. 6:

RDA.jpg
Ralph David Abernathy IV
Position: Running back
Year: Junior 
Height: 5-7
Weight: 161 pounds
2012 Stats: 69 rushes, 366 yards rushing, 28 receptions for 341 yards, 7 total touchdowns. 

The Opportunity: Wait, are you trying to tell me RDAIV -- the most electric player on the field for UC -- needs to develop? I know, sounds crazy, but it's true, kind of. RDAIV doesn't need to be a different player. He really doesn't need to change much about what he does on the field. Yet, he needs to prove he can handle more touches per game because his team will need it. George Winn sucking up the barrage of hits moved on to the New England Patriots. Abernathy won't be asked to take the load as a bellcow back, but will be asked to do more as a runner, receiver and anywhere else on the field Eddie Gran can place him. 

Why development is crucial: Last year RDAIV averaged 5.6 yards per touch but touched the ball less than 10 times per game (9.8). As a diminutive scat back finding creative ways to involve his skill set will be a challenge, but increasing his versatility and, more importantly, durability will be a key to the offseason. He must be built to endure an extra 50-100 hits next season, because they are coming. 

Tommy T's Take: "I don't think there's any doubt he could carry the ball 25 times in a game. But he's not going to do it 25 for 12, he's not big enough. He can't physically handle that. We are going to have to pick and choose what we want him to do. When we want him to do it. What his strengths are to help the team, he's fast, he's quick, he's an excellent football player. We don't want to overuse him but we don't want to underuse him. We got to pick a happy medium."

 

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I want to hear from you! Agree, disagree, befuddled? Shoot me an email (pauldehnerjr@gmail.com) or hit me up on Twitter (@pauldehnerjr) with your thoughts on this list or anything else Bearcats football.